In today’s rapidly changing society, new degrees are popping up seemingly every semester. What was once just a “Marketing” degree is now split into degrees in things like Digital Marketing, Social Media Management, and Content Curation. Employers are looking for more versatile employees than in the past, so they can save money on payroll costs. Many college students are picking up Minors to supplement their majors and make them more appealing in the job market. There is one catch to this otherwise sound strategy. It is important to choose your minor carefully, as it may be what gets you a job over your equally qualified peer.
Some Tips Regarding Minors
The most important tip regarding Minors don’t commit to one too early. Most Freshmen end up changing their major at least once before Junior year. If you are one of those Freshmen who know what they want to do from the start, then focus on exploring your other areas of interest with your general education requirements. You should also fill your elective requirements with something you’re truly interested in. If you still want to graduate on the four-year schedule, then you want to make sure you pick classes that apply to your minor. Look out for classes where you can use it to meet both a general education and minor requirement.
Your class selection strategy is key to graduating on time. Picking up a minor adds between 18 and 24 credits to your total. This means you can’t waste your electives on classes just because they are easy. You will often have to choose an earlier time or harder professor to get the classes you need. It is easy to make your schedule by searching the easiest professors on Ratemyprofessor.com, but that can be a risky strategy when pursuing a minor. Your best option is to make your schedule each semester with your academic advisor. They will keep you on task and keep your schedule realistic to manage.
Most students go through a good chunk of their college lives without regularly meeting with their academic advisor. Hundreds of students, each semester find out they have to delay graduation to take one class they missed next semester. It is virtually impossible to handle hitting all of your major and minor requirements without the guidance of a professional.
Here is a checklist of things to do before declaring your Minor:
Check the comprehensive list of minors offered by your school and make a list of those that interest you. Make sure they don’t require you to be a specific major (unless it is your major).
Familiarize yourself with the course requirements of each minor. Check the requirements against your major requirements. If your minor is in the same discipline as your major, then there is a good chance a couple lower-division classes may be able to count twice.
Map out your course load for each semester. Start taking upper-division classes as soon as you have the prerequisites. This will prevent you from having a nightmare semester of all upper-division classes for your last two semesters.
Make sure you are realistic when looking at your prospective workload for each semester. Most students severely underestimate the amount of time they have to put in outside of class to be successful. You want a healthy balance between your academic and social life.
So Should I Get a Minor or Not?
The short answer is that it depends. As mentioned previously, a minor is between 18 and 24 extra credits. A student is considered full-time at 12 credits, so a minor would take an extra two semesters complete at that pace. This means a minor takes an extra commitment to a tougher schedule to graduate on time. You don’t want to put in all this extra time for the sole fact of having a minor. It only makes sense if you are sure of the value it will add when it comes time to enter the job market.
Here are four instances where you should consider picking up a minor:
- Liberal arts majors. For example, an English major who has no plans on teaching would make themselves more marketable by picking up a minor. A good option would be something like Professional writing, as most businesses seek employees with great written communication skills.
- Students in other disciplines with broad majors. Getting a general Business Management degree doesn’t cut it in today’s job market. Fields like Business and Finance are favoring specialization, and that is why minors exist.
- Students entering a competitive field. Think outside the box if you are entering a highly competitive profession. A good example would be an accountant who minors in professional writing. Most Accountants are geniuses with numbers, but that genius rarely translates over to the pen.
- You might find that, around the second semester of your Junior year, you selected classes that put you only one or two classes from completing a minor. Revisit the list of minors available to your major when you have three semesters remaining, and you could pick up an easy minor.
For anyone that doesn’t fall into one of those above categories, picking up a minor is not worth the sacrifice of your time. Your time in college is precious. Why sacrifice your social life to be holed up in the library doing work for a minor that won’t even help you get a job? Don’t fall into the trap of “more is better” when it comes to extra degrees. This advice also applies to pursuing graduate degrees. Make sure you know the return on your educational investment before you commit thousands of dollars on a Masters or Doctorate.