So, you want to double major. As a Foreign Language and English major, I can certainly tell you that it’s not for the unmotivated. It isn’t easy…ever. Even so, it’s one of the most mind opening, rewarding and imaginative things a person can do in terms of their college career. In order to become a successful double major, here are a few things you may want to consider:
For some of us, the decision to take up our first major might not have necessarily been our own. Pressure from parents, high school teachers and friends might have convinced you to choose a major you don’t necessarily like, but will “be the most practical” or will “bring in the most money” once you start advertising yourself for jobs. Although thinking towards the future with financial success in mind is definitely a wise thing, it might not necessarily lead to the emotional satisfaction you are looking for.
If that’s the case, double majoring may be for you for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re a Biology major but your true passion lies in photography, or you might be an Education major but love music. If that’s the case, I really recommend making this other thing that you fill your leisure time with your second major if possible. Doing so can help cultivate and develop your skill set in terms of the hobbies you really enjoy, in addition to giving you a less stressful outlet with which to combat the more undesirable major. It can help you become more confident in an area of interest to you as you learn about a subject in more detail. You also become more marketable and versatile to possible employers and interning companies when your résumé shows that you know both how to buckle down academically, but also how to express yourself honestly through other things that you are good at.
A double major might also be able to increase your desirability if they support you well on another financial scope. Some degree combinations yield more successful job searches than others, as some majors when paired together may seem almost too incongruent or too impractical to pull off. Part of deciding to double major is considering whether you value the content bases themselves just as much as you value the future they promise you, versus a prosperous future and a very miserable collegiate learning experience having one or two majors you can’t stand.
If you have a first major that you already love, but you have other interests you can pursue in an academic setting, maybe you should add on that second major. Instead of focusing your future on one thing you love, for me it’s language learning and social interaction with others, increase that tenfold by tacking on something that will be a positive supplement to your current course load. It is way easier to be engaged in class and do well on assignments when you love what you’re doing. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
In considering that, sometimes choosing a second major that coincides with your current track is helpful. If your first major is very rigorous, maybe consider a second that helps you along in doing the work for the first. As a French and English major, I read works inspired by French literary theorists in both French and English. This is helpful to me as I get a more global view of language learning and literacy. It can also be confusing when I am learning the same exact text in two different languages and am in two different sections of the book I’m reading. Inversely, sometimes things going parallel to one another in terms of class work makes a person lose their place in their studies and feel disoriented. As much as I love my majors, they can become overwhelming at times, especially considering that both are reading and writing heavy.
On the flip side, it’s impossible to confuse two strikingly different majors and easy to keep track of what needs to be done for which classes. It can become difficult changing your frame of mind from a more technical to creative thought process; some people work in both ways and thrive off of those differences. Having a double major is all about what works for you, even if your first major might not have been.
As a double major, whether it’s a cohesive set of subjects or two totally different class sets, it takes time and dedication. The course load will not be lighter for either major just because your transcripts will show that you have two. Professors will expect high quality work that engages with texts and concepts from both ends. They don’t really care about what else you’ve got going on. We, just like them, are adults left to make our own best judgments. You will have to do twice the in-depth research as to master your major, you will have two senior seminars, you will bounce back and forth from departments and advisors and you will hear conflicting opinions from mentors. Nothing will stop just because you added more to your plate. For some, this is a challenge worth taking, and for others it is not a task worth stressing about.
I can say that for me, I made the right choice. But for you, it’s important to weigh your options. Ask a professor if they know somebody else in your current major that doubled up on the one you’re looking into and if you can talk to them. Ask your friends who’s a double major, what they double major in and how they deal with it. Ask yourself if it’s something that you’re ready to commit to fully. It’s hard enough to switch one major and make sure your credits are still in check to graduate on time, but if you have to switch up on more than one it could really put you behind. Really put some time into it and think about if a double major is really what you want to do. If it is, it could be the best choice you make in college. I know it’s mine.
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