Two majors and three minors, but at what cost?
It’s 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. You hear a familiar whisper in your ear.
“It’s only a few more classes …”
“It’ll look great on your résumé …”
“Really, your major is worthless on its own anyway …”
You look down and see the cursor on your laptop hovering over the word “submit.” You hear a click.
You’ve given in. You just declared another minor.
Due to the competitive state of literally everything in the world right now, students feel more pressured than ever before to make their college years “worth it.” But the real question is, “worth what?” Worth tens of thousands of dollars of crippling debt and years of going to sleep instead of eating dinner because there’s no more ramen?
Students are told from day one that their degree isn’t enough — that they have to do more. This should be viewed more so as one of the many shortcomings of the American education system, rather than being glamorized as an element of academic competition.
So, students often add a second major to make themselves more marketable, followed by a minor — and then another minor. And then, finally, a third one because this one will clearly make them stand out, if only for the fact that their email signature is 10 lines long.
That’s what I did.
I told myself that it was strategic. I had to take all of those breadth courses anyway, so I might as well make them work to my advantage by choosing minors related to my intended field of study to get me those coveted Group D credits without taking biology or chemistry. I felt like I had just hacked academia. “Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” I shouted triumphantly in my empty dorm room (the moment you declare your third minor, all illusions of friendship dissipate).
The answer was that someone had — everyone had — and those who did it were curled up on the floor of Morris bawling their eyes out. Fun fact: all of those floods are caused by the tears of overworked students. I couldn’t hear them when they yelled in unison, “Don’t do it!”
The university enabled this behavior when they changed the credit cap from 17 to 18: a change that allowed people taking only three credit courses to now take up to six classes a semester for the same tuition price as when they had previously been taking five. There was a shift in the collective student mentality toward, “I’ll just take 18 credits until I die, I’m already paying for them anyway.” Suddenly, a lot more could be accomplished in four years, and the race was on to see who could cram in the most minors and still graduate on time. I’m currently winning among my friends, with two majors, three minors, 10 mental breakdowns per week and no time.
The cost, as it turns out, is high; but no one with more than two majors will tell you that. They want to be champions: the success stories and that extra percentage in the university’s freshman orientation powerpoint. They want to maintain the façade that academic success means staring at a pile of unfinished assignments with no joy left in their eyes, rather than partaking in Thirsty Thursday festivities or finishing the new season of Netflix’s “the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” even if no one ends up caring about their minor in comparative literature.
Many enter the Double-Major+ lifestyle with good intentions and genuine academic interest in their areas of study, but they slowly grow increasingly tired, still feeling like they should be doing more.
Maybe while I’m at it, I’ll get a second job too.