In today's competitive society, students know that their college major can make a big difference in their futures. Though you generally don't need to finalize your major choice when you first begin college, you'll probably invest considerable thought to selecting the classes that best suit your goals and interests. After you pick the best major degree plan, you should start considering the pros and cons of various minors.
Certainly, selecting a solid minor can also help enhance job prospects and admissions to graduate schools. It gives you a chance to broaden your horizons, develop new skills, and add to your credentials. In other words, deciding upon a college minor might prove to be a major decision. Take a moment to consider the importance of college minors and if you should pursue one.
What is a Minor in College?
Basically, a college minor gives students a chance to gain a solid introduction to another course of study outside of their major. Sometimes, people chose a minor that's closely related to their major; however, in other cases, they may not even come from the same department.
Naturally, schools will impose fewer requirements to earn a minor than a major. For example, University of the Cumberlands requires 21 hours of advisor-approved art credits for a minor while a major needs 24 hours of core classes and six art electives.
These requirements vary from university to university and, sometimes, even by departments. Still, adding a minor to a degree program may take some planning because you will need to satisfy prerequisites and coursework for two different areas of study.
Do You Have to Have a Minor in College?
While you must declare a major to earn a bachelor's degree, you usually do not need to have a minor. Some colleges or degree programs require minors, but others do not. While a few programs may only accept specific minors, most let students decide.
A minor can be a great way to add more value to your degree and make you more marketable as a job candidate. Declaring a minor is a big decision, so here are three factors to consider before making your choice:
- First, think about what you’re interested in and what you want to study. A minor can give you an opportunity to explore a subject that you’re passionate about or dive deeper into something that you’re already studying.
- Second, weigh the benefits of declaring a minor against the extra time and effort it will take. Will pursuing a minor help you get the job you want after graduation? Will it make you more competitive for graduate school?
- Finally, talk to your academic advisor about your options and make sure that the minor you choose won’t conflict with your major or other courses required for your degree. Once you’ve considered these factors, declaring a minor should be easy!
How Many Minors Can You Have in College?
You may have heard of people having a double major. Similarly, students can choose a double minor. If the courses of study closely relate to each other, some class requirements and prerequisites could overlap, so it's easier to do.
Colleges may limit or strongly encourage students to choose no more than two minors. College Prep Partners suggests undertaking no more than three minors because it can make academic credentials look unfocused. If you have multiple minors in mind, it's a good idea to start working with your college advisor as early as possible to develop a plan.
Pros and Cons of Minors in College
If you don't have to declare and complete a minor to complete your degree program, you might wonder if it's a good idea. To help you make an informed choice, consider some pros and cons of a college minor.
Advantages of a College Minor
- Complements your degree program: Very often, students choose a college minor to help make their resume more appealing to hiring managers or graduate schools. For instance, a student might choose English as a major and then pick a related minor, like technical writing, education, or business communication. These specialties can help them stand out to potential employers.
- Broadens knowledge and outlook: U.S. News reported that public affairs ranked as one of the most popular minors at one tech- and science-focused engineering school. This might surprise some people. Still, a spokesman for the university surveyed in the article said that they wanted to produce future leaders with hard skills and a good understanding of the ethical, environmental, and social impacts of decisions.
- Offers options: Seriously, not every 19- or 20-year-old college sophomore really knows what sort of career they might eventually land in. The right minor can offer career options. For instance, a student may study computer science with an eye to getting a job right out of college. At the same time, they might minor in graphic design because they have an idea for a video game they'd like to design in their spare time.
- Improves your graduate school application: Tackling a minor can provide several advantages when applying to competitive graduate schools. In particular, it can shore up weaknesses in the major. For instance, engineering students may want to take a more writing-intensive minor to develop their communication skills. In contrast, education majors may want to complete STEM classes to show that they can handle upper-level math or technology.
- Satisfies your personal goals: Since students know that college requires a considerable investment, they may pursue a major that offers immediate inroads to a career field. At the same time, they may want to pursue and satisfy more esoteric goals. Classes in subjects like art, philosophy, and history can help round out an education, helping students develop creative and analytical skills in a broader way than only taking technical classes.
Drawbacks of a College Minor
Of course, earning a college minor means taking on more responsibility. Thus, it's not without some potential drawbacks. The importance of these issues can also depend upon the student and the kind of minor chosen. Consider some potential downsides of college minors:
- Distraction from the major field: Particularly when the minor and major cover entirely different subjects, some students may struggle to focus on their studies.
- Time-consuming classes: Similarly, minor classes can take time away from concentrating on major classes, homework, and projects.
- Additional investment: Students usually plan to complete their major and minor degrees with the amount of college course hours they need to graduate. In particular, if the minor requires different prerequisites for some classes, it can take more credits and add up to higher tuition expenses.
What Are the Best College Minors to Choose?
According to the U.S. News report cited above, lots of students gravitate towards minors in subjects that will help improve career prospects or land them a job in a specific niche or industry within their overall field. The best college minor for you really depends upon your major and educational goals. Maybe the following examples will help you better determine your best degree-seeking path:
U.S. News mentioned the popularity of computer science as a minor. Even though students may want to study other fields for their major, they often want to pick a minor that will improve their chances of landing a job. Computer classes, for example, can help broaden the opportunities available to accounting majors.
Similarly, a marketing minor could enhance the resume of a graphic design or general business major. In contrast, people in technical or medical fields could benefit from taking business classes in case their future career takes them into management opportunities—or even the founding of their own startup company.
There is anecdotal evidence aplenty. One computer science major minored in the theater. Adding the minor to his resume did not help him land a job, he explains; however, the experience served to polish his communication and public speaking skills with added confidence, helping him develop into a more rounded adult.