College can be an exciting time of growth and learning. In fact, for some, the idea of studying one field just isn’t enough. So, they go for it all and become a double major instead.
Double majoring certainly has its perks.
It allows students the freedom to study more than one subject, become well-rounded during their time in college, and could afford them the opportunity to study both a career path and a passion project at the same time.
However, deciding to become a double major is a big decision, as going after two majors could mean double the work.
Before heading down this path, here are few things students need to consider about becoming a double major and if it can really work for them.
What Is a Double Major?
Though the term “double major” can vary from school to school, it typically refers to a student pursuing two different disciplines under one degree.
While in school, the student works to obtain enough credits for majors in those two disciplines. Usually, this means studying two fields based in the same school, which will earn the student the same type of degree, such as a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).
Classes, including general education classes, might overlap within the two majors, making it easier to complete both courses of study throughout a student’s education.
It’s important to note there is a distinction between a double major and a dual degree.
A dual degree can mean a student is pursuing two separate degrees. This could mean going after two degrees in two different fields (for example, getting a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Finance), or it could mean studying for a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree at the same time.
Some schools may require students to apply for and gain acceptance to both degree programs and will likely require the student to finish all requirements (including general education classes) under both degrees.
Again, it’s important for students to check with their college or university to see how they define a “double major” or a “dual degree” to ensure they are going after the right program.
How Many People Pursue a Double Major?
Many students choose to go down this path while studying at college or university.
Though the exact number can vary from school to school it typically ranges somewhere between 10-25% of the enrolled student body.
Before diving in and deciding to declare a double major here are a few pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Declaring a Double Major
Getting to study two areas at once
Students going after a double major can gain a broader learning experience than others as they expand their classes and curriculum. This means they can leave school with a deep understanding of two totally different topics.
It could also allow some students to study something they believe is a direct career path for them while also exploring an area they are passionate about.
And hopefully, in their future careers, can meld the two skill sets together.
Widening potential job opportunities
By studying in two different areas, students may broaden their future career path.
After all, having two majors under a student’s belt means they are skilled at more than just one thing.
But, beyond this, employers may also look favorably on double majors because it shows they have a broad interest in many topics, can handle the pressures of an increased workload, and are ready and willing to take on new, larger tasks with ease.
Staying on track for graduating in four years
Because most double majors are completed under the same school within a college or university, students can typically still graduate within the standard four-year timeframe.
That’s because students will likely only have to take one set of general education requirements rather than with a dual degree program where they may need to take two.
Completing all of the coursework on time may take some strategic planning, if you have questions, consider speaking with your academic advisor, who may be able to provide helpful insight.
Cons of Declaring a Double Major
Because students may need to add on more credit hours to earn a double major they might have to spend more time in classrooms and more time studying than their peers who are in pursuit of a single major.
This can also mean students need to be highly organized and driven to go after a double major, and it might not be right for those who are not self-starters.
Less time for outside interests
Because students will likely be in the classroom or library more often studying that means those going after a double major may have less time for outside interests and extracurricular activities.
And sure, one goes to college to study. However, it can also serve as an important developmental moment in one’s life.
Taking part in sports, clubs, or activities can help students learn and grow in different ways. It can help them connect with others and serve as a wonderful networking opportunity for future job interests.
It’s critical for students to weigh their options and make sure they know what they will have to give up to go after a double major.
Potential increased tuition
Because students may exceed baseline credit hours, they could end up paying more in tuition.
Each credit hour can be costly and going after a double could be a significant investment.
Consider mapping out your coursework to determine exactly how many credits you’ll be required to complete, and how much extra this may cost.
Weigh the potential additional cost against the value having two majors could provide before declaring.
When It Makes the Most Sense to Double Major
In the end, this is a highly personal decision that students must make for themselves or with the guidance of a parent or counselor.
However, it may make sense for anyone who has more than one interest, who wants to broaden the scope of their schooling, or who feels as though a second major will help their future career prospects.
For example, students studying international business may find it helpful to their careers to get a double major in a language.
If someone believes that the return on investment—both in their time and their money—will be high then a double major may be right for them.
One Alternative to Double Majoring
There is one more way for a student to broaden his or her horizons and go after their passions throughout their education, and that’s with a minor.
While a major is a student’s main area of study, a minor can be a secondary area of study for students that requires fewer credit hours to complete than a second major.
It can help students broaden their educational scope, allow them to further study areas they are passionate about, and help them walk away with more skills upon graduation.
Students can still list this minor on their resumes as well, which could potentially help them impress recruiters during their post-graduation job search.
Being Financially Prepared to Go After Any Degree You Want
Whether you decide to go after one major, two majors, two degrees, a minor, or some combination of the above, it’s important to be financially prepared for what’s ahead.
Being financially prepared can help students leave the door open for exploring more of their academic pursuits while in college without having to feel the pain in their pocket when paying for the extra credits.
Before entering school, many students will look into their student loan options. That could mean working out a loan agreement with a family member or friend.
It could also mean filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSAⓇ) to see if they are eligible for a student loan from the federal government.
Some students may also consider a private student loan via a bank or private lender while searching for the right financial option.
To apply for a private student loan, students generally fill out a loan application either alone or with a co-signer.
Unlike federal student loans, the amount a person qualifies for, along with what interest rate, is usually dependent on the applicant’s credit score and income and other factors.
While qualifying borrowers could secure a competitive interest rate when applying for a private student loan, it’s important to note that federal student loans offer borrower protections that private student loans do not.
These include deferment and forbearance, income-driven repayment plans, and some loan forgiveness programs. Benefits like these mean that students should generally exhaust their federal loan options before considering private student loans.
While on the hunt for a private student loan, consider adding SoFi Private Student Loans to your college financial search.
Students and their parents or guardians can apply for a private student loan with SoFi in minutes.
SoFi Private Student Loans come with no origination fees, no late fees, and no insufficient fund fees. Then, once they graduate, students can utilize SoFi’s flexible repayment options because a loan should work for you, not the other way around.
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