By Kate Stringer, Staff Writer
From THE BEACON
With two majors and a 23 credit hour course load, junior Kristin Wishon is lucky if she gets four hours of sleep at night.
“I don’t have time to do things that are just for fun,” said Wishon, who is double majoring in biochemistry and music. “But I enjoy what I’m doing anyways so I don’t really care.”
Wishon is part of a growing trend at college campuses across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of college students who double major has increased over the past 10 years by 70 percent. While some students choose two majors because they believe it will make them more employable, many are simply passionate about multiple fields of study.
Similar to national statistics, the number of students who graduate with double majors at UP has increased over the past ten years from five to 14 percent, according to UP’s Office of Institutional Research.
While Director of Career Services Amy Cavanaugh is unsure of the exact cause of the increase, she believes students get the sense that two majors do increase their odds of getting a job. However, Cavanaugh said this isn’t necessarily true for employers.
“Employers are looking for skills and experiential learning opportunities,” Cavanaugh said. “Whether that’s an internship, research experience, clubs and activities – they’re looking for evidence of skills.”
The College Employment Research Institute (CERI) agrees that the type of major also isn’t necessarily what employers want in a college graduate. Instead, employers look for three main attributes in their employees: basic skills, professionalism and maturity, and interpersonal skills.
While the workload might be greater, 96 percent of students who graduated from UP last year with a double major did so in four years. Of the remaining students who graduated with one major, only 89 percent graduated in four years.
Though Cavanaugh believes the wisdom of double majoring depends on the individual student, she advises students to analyze their reasons before making a decision.
“You can’t blanket say you should or you shouldn’t,” Cavanaugh said. “What are their reasons? It’s really a matter of assessing interests, skills and values.”
According to UP’s Office of Institutional Research, Spanish is the most popular second major among currently enrolled students. Spanish professor and student advisor Kathleen Regan estimates that roughly 66 to 75 percent of Spanish majors also major in another discipline.
When it comes to double-majoring in a language, Regan says the International Languages Department encourages interdisciplinary work.
“The department is very supportive of interdisciplinary work, values, and encourages it with students,” Regan said. “All of us believe the 21st century is about being a global citizen.”
Regan believes that the increase in double majoring is a testimony to the creativity and dedication of students.
“Interdisciplinary engagement is indicative of hardworking and engaged students,” Regan said.
For fifth-year undergraduate Lupita Ruiz, triple majoring in psychology, French and Spanish was never her intent.
“The things I wanted to do and all the classes I wanted to take in my college experience just happened to give me three majors,” Ruiz said. “I’m only doing it because I’m really passionate about all the fields that I’m studying. I think that’s what keeps me motivated.”
Senior Frank Deryck planned on solely being a psychology major until he took his first sociology class. After one class, he decided to double major.
“I remember sitting there in the first course – it was probably one of the best lectures I had,” Deryck said. “The moment I left, I decided I want to be a [sociology] major as well.”
Deryck believes students double major to get the full experience in multiple areas of interest.
“Students have a lot of interests, different subjects they really enjoy,” Deryck said. “They don’t want to just minor in them, [because] they’d feel like they’re dabbling in it and not really getting involved.”
Even though some students believe double majoring is necessary for a career, junior Hannah Robinson says this was not an influential factor when choosing to major in English and Spanish.
“I saw my double major as a chance to explore the things that I loved doing without necessarily worrying about [getting a job],” Robinson said. “I’ve always loved English and languages, and taking Spanish I really found something else that I loved and didn’t want to give up.”
Some double major pairings are easier than others. While some classes required for psychology and sociology majors will cross count for Deryck, biochemistry and music major Kristin Wishon finds the workload more challenging.
“I could not decide which one I wanted to do because I love music and it’s my passion but biochemistry – I’m just fascinated by it,” Wishon said. “I’ve been taking 21 plus credits every semester since second semester freshman year. I’m very priority oriented, goal oriented – I don’t have time to just go out and mess around.”
Ruiz finds the work load for her triple major heavy as well, especially while working full time.
“I have a clinical internship 25 hours a week, I’m the co-coordinator for the Nicaragua immersion at the Moreau Center, and then I work at the Office of Career Services and I’m also a Spanish tutor,” Ruiz said. “I’m working full time and doing school full time so it’s really heavy and I have to stay self-disciplined so that means catching up on the weekends.”
Choosing a language as a second major is a more manageable workload, according to Robinson.
“Departments, especially for languages, make the programs really complimentary,” Robinson said. “They want you to be able to take a language and your main field of study without overloading.”
If given the choice, Deryck, Ruiz, Robinson and Wishon all agree they’d choose to double major again.
“I would major in everything if I could,” Wishon said. “If there were more hours in the day, I would do it.”
Top Five most popular secondary majors
1. Spanish: 92 students enrolled
2. Finance: 31 students enrolled
3.English, German: 22 students enrolled
4. Psychology, Sociology: 20 students enrolled
5. French studies: 19 students enrolled