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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Multiple majors = massive mistake

    Picking a major used to be about focusing on a particular field of study in preparation for graduate school or the job market.

    Aspiring business students were advised to major in economics while future physicians were steered towards the life sciences. Yet, as we all know, college advisors now emphasize the fundamental role of our interests, skills and values in major selection. Since every major teaches valuable career-related skills, it’s passé to choose a major based solely on guaranteeing a job at graduation.

    These days it’s not just about picking a major, but a unique recipe of majors and minors. Ask a handful of students what they are studying and you are bound to get a random assortment of combinations – economics and political science with a minor in French or sociology and psychology. Last year, around 10 percent of UA graduates completed a double major, but as many as 40 percent of students have multiple majors at schools like Washington University in St. Louis. What accounts for the growing college fad of double, triple or even quadruple majoring?

    For one, more students are getting a head start on college during high school thanks to Advanced Placement credits. By testing out of general requirements, students can start concentrating on their major studies and have more time to pursue a secondary degree.

    The competitiveness of the job market or the difficulties of getting into post-baccalaureate programs also seem to push many students to multi-major. A tougher and more diverse course load may make you more marketable in the future, but that doesn’t mean you have to triple major to demonstrate your academic strengths.

    You can easily pursue a well-rounded and diverse undergraduate education with one major; most departments give you a rich, interdisciplinary background no matter what subject you choose. And universities implement required general education and language courses to ensure that you merit a university degree. To graduate with a degree in economics, students have to take business as well as statistics, history, ethics and math courses in addition to gen eds. That’s already a broad curriculum.

    Since our curricula already provide students with a diverse academic background in a broad range of subjects, double or triple majoring ultimately seems to limit, more than extend, the ability to explore various disciplines. Triple majors have to cram their schedules with required courses rather than exploring auxiliary interests; their entire college plan is filled with major requirements rather than a diverse mix of courses which can enhance a student’s creativity and intellectual curiosity. Take it from me: I’ve regretted my multiple majors ever since the required courses started stacking up and crowding out other interests. Now, it’s too late to turn back.

    Tackling too many courses with too many majors seems to be the mark of an over-achieving geek more than a desirable candidate for graduate school or employment. Professional schools and employers want applicants who can think critically and creatively, not students who track their success by how many majors they can rack up.

    Besides, employers and professional schools alike welcome students from a broad range of disciplines, no matter the specialty. Medical schools routinely enroll political science majors and investment firms do hire physics majors. Majors ultimately have little effect on your future career prospects and any major can equip you with skills that will be valuable in one arena or another.

    Granted, double majoring can be beneficial at times. A student desiring a career in art restoration might choose a double major in art history and chemistry while a student seeking to work in electronic commerce would be wise to study computer science and marketing. Yet, for the most part, double, triple or quadruple majoring is not only unnecessary but indicates a student more concerned with looking academically impressive rather than intellectually capable. Slow down, drop a major or two, and enjoy your discipline while you still can.

    Christina Jelly is a senior majoring in biochemsitry and philosophy. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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