July 22, 2016
College Majors and Minors
Advantages and Disadvantages to a Double Major in College
Whether you are just starting your freshman year of college or approaching the declaration deadline, your major is probably on your mind. At most four-year universities, you must select your major by the end of your sophomore year. If you’re torn between two different areas of study or you want to supplement one subject with a similar one, you may even be thinking about a double major.
If you’ve read “What is a Double Major?” you’ll already have a sense of what a double major is and know that it can be a great way of expanding your skill set and ensuring that you have access to lots of job prospects once you graduate. But it’s important to stop and think about the potential drawbacks as well, like the fact that majoring in two subjects may be too time-consuming to allow for things like internships.
Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding if a double major is for you.
Advantages of a Double Major
Learning as much as possible
If you’re interested in psychology but also fascinated by English literature, it may feel impossible to just pick one. If you want to make the most of your undergraduate career, studying two subjects at once is a great way to take full advantage of your time at school.
Getting an edge on the competition
Studying two subjects can not only help you see each one from a new perspective, it can also transform you into a more desirable candidate down the road, giving you an edge on the competition by providing you with more insight and experience than other candidates. When employers review your background, they are likely to be impressed by your strong work ethic.
Exposure to new things
Tackling more than one subject at once will give you exposure to different industries and opportunities, making it easier to decide what you want to do down the line. This is valuable both in terms of gaining hands-on experience in your chosen field, but also in terms of narrowing down your choices by eliminating industries that aren’t a good fit.
Studying two different subjects also means having additional networking opportunities. You are likely to develop more personal relationships with your professors (since students normally get close to those who teach classes for their major) and will be able to connect with students from both subjects. This means that your social and professional networks will be larger than those of your peers and your chances of finding an entry-level job after graduation will also be higher.
Disadvantages of a Double Major
Additional time spent studying
If you are considering a double major, prepare to factor in the additional time that will take to complete. Not only will you have to complete all your general education requirements, you will also need to take all the classes required for each of your majors. If you want to graduate on time, that may mean taking on an intense course load (with more tests and papers) and if not, you will potentially need an additional semester or two to fulfill all your requirements.
Missing out on extracurriculars
With all the extra time you spend studying, you might have less time to pursue other interests. When deciding whether to take on a double major, don’t forget to consider other aspects of your college life, like extracurriculars and internships, which can be negatively impacted by the demands of your rigorous program.
Increased cost of tuition
Depending on the school you attend and the situation you’re in, adding a second major can potentially also increase the cost of your tuition. If you stay on for another semester or more, you will need to pay additional tuition and other fees during that time. While graduating with a double major can look impressive on your resume and potentially score you a better paying gig, it can also be a financial burden.
Pro Tip: If you love the idea of studying two subjects but find the prospect of a double major overwhelming, consider doing a minor instead. This is a great way to get in-depth knowledge of a second subject without taking a full course load of classes. In fact, the number of required classes for a minor is often half the number required for a major.
Choosing a major is one of the most significant decisions you will ever make during your college career. While it can feel overwhelming at times, just remember: there is no set right or wrong answer. Make sure to weigh the benefits against the time and money involved and ask yourself why you want to do it. If the answer is that you want to take on a second major for career advantages, or you are just really passionate about that area of study, then go for it! Consider your own unique reasons for pursuing a double major and make the choice that suits you best.