Stretching Yourself with a Double Major

By: Rachel

Last semester I separately touched on why you might want to consider a degree in Organizational Management or Writing Studies, but I never talked about why I decided to study both. Here’s a bit of my story and a few tips I have for those of you thinking about or are working towards multiple majors.

I have always had a passion for writing, and taking composition classes in high school made it clear to me this was something I really loved learning about. However, I wasn’t sure writing was a career I wanted to go into. Writing books didn’t really appeal to me, and I knew enough about myself to know I wanted a more predictable occupation.

Image: field of flowers with a single orange poppy flower bloomed. 
Text: Stretching yourself with a double degree.

As I talked to people, a field that kept coming up was grant writing. Oftentimes school districts, non-profits, or even larger corporations will hire grant writers, and I heard there was quite a demand for them. This is more of the structured, professional area of writing that appeals to me.  

I realized grant writing rarely makes up 100% of a person’s job duties — it’s often tied in with other tasks — so I figured it would be wise to gain some additional knowledge in another area. For me this area was business; it was a field I developed an interest in while I was in high school, and I knew the kind of role I would likely find myself in would involve aspects of business administration, human resources, or management. In short, I realized the kind of writing I really want to do is for a business, so rather than specialize in one or the other, I decided to pursue an education in both.  

What I hope you’ll glean from my story is that you hold the power when it comes to your education. Double majoring in two very different fields has allowed me to customize my education in a way no single program ever could. Yes, it has certainly brought challenges, and I’ve realized how critical it is to be your own advocate, but in the end, you are the one who has to take your education to the workplace. Do yourself a favor and make sure it’s one that will help you get where you want to go in life.

If you’re considering doubling up on majors, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way and tips I’ll pass on to you:

  • Prepare to be stretched. Taking on another degree means an additional course load, which obviously presents challenges. If your majors are in very different disciplines (like mine are), it can feel like your brain is being stretched in too many different directions. This isn’t always easy, but it’s important to remember that growth only comes through being stretched. The ability to think in different ways is a skill you will use no matter where you find yourself.
  • Stay organized. The last thing you want to hear is that you aren’t able to graduate because you forgot to fill out some form. Another major means more things to keep track of, especially if you are enrolled in two different schools. Know what the requirements are, and work with advisors to plan out how your programs can work together.
  • Be patient. Along with staying organized, I can bet you’ll run into more than a few snags. I know I have! You might be assigned two different advisors, you might have to run from one department to the other since no one specializes in both your majors together, you might spend weeks trying to submit the correct paperwork to declare your second major, and it might feel like you’re all alone trying to figure this out. To a certain extent, you are. There might not be anyone else trying to do what you are. But, there are people who can help, and with a little patience, things will fall into place. Stay grounded in why you’re doing what you are, and don’t allow little inconveniences to prevent you from building the education you’re really after.

Best, Rachel

Of Possible Interest:
Double Majoring, The Pros & Cons
My Path to a Double Degree
Choosing a Major – all our blog posts on the topic

Read Rachel’s other posts

Photo Source: Unsplash | Raquel Raclette

Double Majoring: The Pros & Cons

By: David

I see that you’ve decided to tune back in with the topic of double majoring. In the last blog post I had mentioned that I’ll be talking about the pros and cons of double majoring. As you may already know I am currently a double major in Communication and Psychology and it’s been quite the journey. To start off, I’ll be talking about the cons first and then I’ll transition into the pros from there.

The Cons

The biggest concern students have when they think about double majoring is the workload and time commitment. One major itself already requires a lot of work and time commitment, but having to double that may seem a bit overwhelming. My suggestion would be to balance out your workload and time for both subject evenly. For me personally, I try my best to balance out my coursework for both majors throughout my semesters. This semester I am currently taking two Communication courses and one Psychology course and for next semester I plan to switch it around by taking two Psychology courses and one Communication course.

To be honest, double majoring requires a lot of work and effort. Now that I am in my upper divisions for both majors I have to read and work harder than ever! If you are contemplating if you should double major or not just keep in mind of the work that you’ll have to put in. In addition, it also really depends on what you’re going for as well. Some majors require more credit hours than others, therefore it may be quite difficult to add a second major.

The amount of time that you’ll have to put in for two different degrees will be quite mind boggling. Considering that you have a part-time job, clubs, sports, a social life,  you will have A LOT to balance by adding a second major. This is my first semester having to juggle all of that and so far it’s been quite rough, but I’m getting by. Balancing your time between two different degrees may prove to be difficult, but possible. Some students choose to cram all their credits into their entire four years while others tend to spread their classes more evenly and stay an extra semester or two. I myself already plan on staying for an extra year to finish my two degrees. I figure, what’s the rush? Might as well enjoy college while you can, right?

Anyways, the main thing that you’ll have to worry about when it comes to double majoring is the time commitment and hard work that you’ll have to put in for two degrees, but as we transition into the next section you’ll realize that it actually becomes quite beneficial after graduation.

The Pros

Despite the work and time that you’ll have to put in, you’ll soon realize that having two degrees can actually be quite beneficial and has its perks. By having two degrees on your resume, that itself already makes you much more marketable. Also, it shows that you were dedicated to take the extra step to complete two degrees versus completing one major and one minor. Lastly, it gives you the chance of going into several different fields after graduation.

After graduation, you’ll want to market yourself as best you can and having two degrees can really help with that in various ways. As I had mention in the previous paragraph it really shows that you are dedicated and determined to put in that extra work for the second degree. Just listing two degrees in your resume can be very beneficial in the sense that it demonstrates your work ethic.  I know I had mention in the previous section that the work required for two degrees might be overwhelming, but like the good ol’ saying goes, “the price of success is hard work”.

Along the lines of being more marketable, you’ll always have the chance of going into several fields with two degrees. Within one degree, the subfields that come along with it are numerous and having two degrees only doubles your opportunities for success. For example, within my Communication degree I can go into business, mass media communication, higher education, and various different fields. With my Psychology degree I can go into counseling, social work, education, and many various fields as well. In the end, if you don’t like a certain occupation or field you always have the chance to go into different fields within your degrees.

To conclude, double majoring is a tough process to get through, but definitely worth it in the end. Do consider the work, time, and effort that you’ll be required to put in, but also consider the benefits, perks, and pros to double majoring as well. Whether you’re considering or contemplating you should double major or not, I hope this blog post has helped you just a bit in your thought and planning process. In the end, double majoring isn’t for everybody and that’s totally fine! Do and stick with what you’re most comfortable with even it means just sticking with one major. Farewell and safe travels to you all fellow readers. Stay gold and keep it classy!

Read David’s other posts

My Path to a Double Degree

By: David

Now if you are or were like me, you’re probably wondering what majors suit you best. Maybe you are even considering whether to double major or not because you just want to do everything! It took me awhile before I finally decided to commit to the whole idea of “double-majoring” because I was stuck in the middle of the crossroads of double majoring and having a major/minor. The entire process was a bit of a journey, and I now feel very confident and satisfied about my decision. In today’s blog post, I’ll be talking about the process that I personally went through when deciding to double major. So sit back, relax, read on, and hopefully you’ll find some information helpful for your own decision making process!

The Thought Process

I spent a lot of time thinking about my major and academic path for a long time during my sophomore year. I had no idea what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. What I did know was what I enjoyed doing most and that was helping and interacting with people.

As I took my general courses, I soon realized that I was highly intrigued by my Communication and Psychology courses. So from there, I decided that I would go into these two fields eventually. As time went on I began wondering whether or not if I should double major. From there I began generating a pros & cons list which took quite some time. But even with the list and options, I was still indecisive and stuck in the middle of the crossroads.

By spring semester, I took a class which really helped me through the entire process, it was CNED 2535: Major and Career Exploration. By the end of the semester, the class made me realize that with two degrees I would have more opportunities after college and a broader field of knowledge to display to make me more marketable as a fresh graduate.

The Planning Process

Once I finally made the decision to double major the next thing I knew I had to do was plan for graduation. Initially, I had already declared my first major as Communication by spring semester of freshman year. So all I really had to worry about was my Psychology major.

Even though I had officially declared both as Communication and Psychology, I was still hesitant about my decision. I was really insecure about my decision and wasn’t sure if this was the right choice for me. So I talked to several of the career counselors in our office, professors from previous courses, and academic advisers. After talking to the professionals, I finally felt secure with my decision.

Once I felt confident enough about my decision I played around with APAS and Graduation Planner for quite some time. I checked the requirements and planned out my classes according to the courses offered. In the end, I figured out that I would be able to graduate within four years, but it would require me to take 16+ credits per semester and a couple summer sessions. Upon realizing this, I came to accept the fact that it was best to graduate in five years. Overall, I was totally okay with this decision because I enjoy college already and figured that I would have more time to maximize my skills before setting off into the real world.

To summarize, if you are considering double majoring I hope this post helps you. There are tons of reasons to double major and I personally believe that people should do it if they have the time. My final piece of advice would be to start planning early and take your time in school. Just take your time to maximize your skills and knowledge before setting off into the real world. There are so many benefits and advantages to having a double degree and reasons why people should double major. Stay tune as I will talk about the reasons, benefits, and pros/cons of having a double degree in my next blog post. Until then, stay gold folks!

Of Possible Interest:

Read David’s other posts

To Double or Not To Double

By: Meg

Double majoring (known as a dual major if your majors cross colleges) is something that many students think about. There are pros and cons, of course. I just decided to get a dual major in Psychology and Anthropology. This will mean more work, but also so many more opportunities.

Here’s how my thought process went:

I love Psychology, but Anthropology is cool too. They both have really interesting classes, and both apply to what I want to do. I have Anthropology declared as a minor right now, but I did a Grad Planner with the major and found out it wouldn’t take too many more credits for a major. I can do both and still graduate in 4 years, which is really important to me.

Why is doubling a good idea? It can look really good to future employers. It shows a lot of determination, and that you have interests and skills in different fields. It can help you develop specialties that may not be possible with one major, or expand your knowledge base for what you’re planning on going into after school (Marketing and Psychology are a classic example).

So why not just minor? Some majors have seats and classes reserved for majors only. This may mean there are classes you can’t get into as a minor, limiting your options for specialization. Additionally, these classes that are “for majors only” can really help your understanding of the material. Research Methods classes can really expand your learning base and help you learn what is important in your field, but they’re often reserved for people majoring in that area. You also get a new advisor in your new major! They can help with classes, career ideas, and even more. You have a lot more resources to take advantage of.

Double Major. Questions to ask. Things to consider. Yellow and white wall with teal wood window.

Now for the downsides:

It may get difficult to schedule all your classes. When you have prerequisites and electives to fill for not one, but 2 majors, it may be hard to fit it all in. You may have to compromise on some classes or stay an extra semester.

Depending on the majors, it may mean a lot more credits or overlapping harder classes, because both have to be taken. This means more stress. If you’re already stressing out about school, work, and extra-curricular activities, adding another major may not be for you.

Some majors have research or internship requirements. Fitting those in might get difficult when you add not only more classes, but requirements for another major. You might be able to get some requirements waived, or have them count for both, but you might not. Talk to advisors in both majors before you decide.

Additionally, with your attention split, you might not put as much effort into either, as you might for just one major. You have to ask yourself if you can manage your time to do as well in all your classes, or if your grades are going to take a dip. If so, is it worth it?

If you’re thinking about doubling:

Check out the requirements for your new major in the major catalog or Grad Planner.

Talk to your current advisor, make an appointment with a career counselor, or set up an appointment with someone in your potential major’s advising center.

Visit the Choosing a Major page on the UMD Career & Internship Services website for more resources on deciding on a major, what you can do with majors at UMD, and more.

Of Possible Interest:

Read Meg’s other posts.

Photo Source: Unsplash | Gareth Harper