According to the U.S Department of Education, the number of college students double-majoring increased by 96 percent between the years 2000 and 2008. While that number only accounted for 5.5 percent of undergraduate students in 2008, some individual colleges had 40 percent of undergraduates pursuing double majors at the time.
Since then, the numbers have risen, with more and more students coming into college with multiple interests or wanting to have an edge in a job market that is becoming increasingly interdisciplinary.
However, keeping up with such an endeavor as having two majors can be taxing on your health, your funds and your time. In fact, without the proper actions, such a large feat can backfire badly. Despite that, double majoring is not impossible.
With the job market becoming progressively integrative, having multiple degrees gives you an advantage. Employers might see the work and dedication needed to graduate with two degrees and will put you in higher standing as opposed to applicants with only one degree. Employers might see it as you taking the initiative to broaden your depth and understanding of a particular field by having majors in similar fields, like biology and chemistry, or overlapping two fields to gain crucial skill sets needed in a particular position. Either way, you’re benefiting from having two degrees in your hand when you graduate.
Having two majors means taking on extra responsibility and disciplining yourself. You first have to plan. Plan today, plan tomorrow, plan for next semester, even. Plan every second of the day if you can.
Time management is not just for planning when you study and when you do homework or an essay, but for planning your collegiate schedule as well. Double majors, unlike single majors, will have three or four capstone classes, meaning, depending on your major, you can have two four-credit classes and two reading/writing-intensive classes that you have to take at the same time in order to graduate. Start planning your semesters so that you don’t have more than one of these classes per semester. This way, you can avoid extra stress and focus on understanding the material for future application rather than just learning it for homework, exams and essays.
You will also want to plan your semesters so that you can know exactly how many and exactly what classes to take each term in order to graduate in four years, if that is what you want to do.
However, double majors thinking about graduating in four years should start early. If you are thinking of becoming a double major, start now. In the beginning, you will want to get your general education courses out of the way. Having these courses down the road gets in the way of scheduling and, thus, you can wind up taking your major classes later on in your time at the university. In turn, you can potentially tack on a semester or a year to your schedule, which will prevent you from graduating on time.
In addition, double majors need to keep in constant contact with their academic advisors. By doing so for both of your majors, you ensure that you will be taking all your classes and finding ways to fit them in. Your advisor will be able to tell you which classes can be used as electives for which majors, allowing you to double-dip and not worry about taking an excessive amount of electives.
As with most decisions, you need to consider the pros and cons and double majoring has some risky cons. When you double major, you are splitting your focus between two academic requirements and, as a result, run the risk of your grades being low in both areas. You are also using time that could be used toward an internship for classes for one of your majors or the major that you want to focus on more. In turn, you are deprived of a chance at getting in-field experience that other students with a single major may have the opportunity to complete.
Another drawback is having two majors that aren’t well planned-out or started early enough can run the risk of tacking on additional semesters to your graduation date, adding extra costs and time before you can enter the work force.
However, as daunting as that all may seem, it is not at all impossible to be a double major and succeed. Just continue to plan, keep tabs on your classes and consistently talk to your advisors.