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A Solution in Search of Some Data…

[ 87 ] January 31, 2013 |

This is an odd idea:

Should Colleges Ban Double Majors?

Tucked in a list of suggested reforms issued last week for how U.S. colleges could increase graduation rates is a recommendation that schools “narrow student choice” in order to promote completion. It’s an interesting idea — one that seems to go against the notion of college as a place to explore options and experiment with courses in divergent fields — that is all the more curious since it is included in an open letter from the nation’s six leading higher-education organizations.

“Sometimes we create a culture of dancing for more years than you have to, rather than getting out the door,” said Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State University and chairman of the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment, which issued the Jan. 24 letter. ”I think institutions have a responsibility to reset that balance.”

Do double majors improve a student’s marketability?

Whether a second major actually makes a student more attractive to an employer is unclear — little data exists on the subject.

Do double majors slow degree progress, or prevent graduation?

At the same time, however, Tepper says his research does not suggest that students who double-major are more likely to drop out of college. He also found that having an additional major increases the time it takes to earn a degree only slightly, if at all.

And so…

So why, then, are prominent figures in the higher-education community promoting the idea of narrowing student choice?

“I’m not sure that the word ‘narrow’ is quite the right word, it’s clarity that we’re really trying to achieve,” said Gee after embarking on a media tour to promote the letter. “I believe very strongly in the liberal arts education. We don’t want to take away those options. We want to provide clarity to students for how they can get through the system much faster — that would be the way that I would put it.”

Well, that clears things up. Without data to indicate that double majors actually slow progress, seems to me a touch premature to suggest that they ought to be banned. Also seems that “banned” here effectively means just that a student cannot be granted a credential for taking a sufficient number of courses in a second major. I don’t understand why denying a student a credential (even if it doesn’t seem to add much to job market/grad school attractiveness), should be an institutional priority.

If I had to guess, I’d say one problem is that double majors create messy statistical and accounting issues that administrators find unpleasant.  I’d also guess that administrators are desperate for any means of pushing students through faster, as graduation rate affects ranking, and that they’re willing to try just about any kooky scheme for making that happen.  Student intellectual curiosity is an inconvenience.

Comments (87)

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  1. Bitter Scribe says:

    If they want students to graduate faster, maybe they should consider keeping a lid on tuition so the kids don’t have to take a year or more off to work and save money.

  2. Erik Loomis says:

    I don’t know if administrators were ever interested in students’ intellectual curiosity, but they aren’t even interested in students’ intellectual ability in 2013.

  3. Rob says:

    The idea that it is double majors and not understaffed required courses that are the bottleneck is absurd.

    • sparks says:

      Same as it ever was. Required courses were understaffed in my day.

      • greylocks says:

        Back in the 70s, when I was there, it was almost impossible to graduate from Michigan State in less than five years unless you took summer courses or got super lucky at the registration desk or tested out of some of your courses.

        The required courses were the problem, not double majors. The worst of the lot by far was Psychology 152 (not 100% sure of the course number), which was required for all 50,000+ students and was an absolutely moronic piece of rubbish with restricted class sizes. IIRC, you couldn’t opt to test out of it, either. I knew upperclassmen who were still trying to get into a Psych 152 class that fit into the rest of their schedule, and they had seniority at registration.

    • Brautigan says:

      I was a double major – Econ & PolSci, precisely because of this. Started as an Econ major, but could never get into a required micro class until I was a senior & able to bump underclassmen. At that point, PolSci had become my “fallback” major.

    • mpowell says:

      I have never understood understaffed mandatory courses. Because you can always hire a fucking adjunct for dirt cheap to increase class size, or just split up the class into two lecture sessions if it comes down to it. And it’s not as if the same classes are not impacted every year.

      I can only imagine two possible explanations. 1) Administrations are totally and maddeningly incompetent (probably the correct explanation) or 2) They want students to take extra time to graduate to collect extra tuition.

  4. Anyone know what the figure is on colleges that require students to pay more for double majors? I remember my university advertised it as a particular selling point, and this “solution” seems on especially thin ground if it’s a source of revenue.

    • Just Dropping By says:

      I’ve never heard of a school specifically charging more for double majors and I’m not even sure how that would work. What happens if you take all the requirements for a second major but only declare it in your final semester? Do they send you a bill for the difference in tuition for the previous three and a-half years?

      • My guess is that if you declare more than one major you might pay a one-time fee or something along those lines. Can’t think of many other workable methods for such a structure, though it certainly puts a dent in how much money the university could get out of students.

        I think it was one of the undergrads that worked with admissions who brought it up to me. Maybe he misheard someone.

  5. arguingwithsignposts says:

    The more I read about Gordon Gee, the less impressed I am with the man.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      How is Gee still president of Ohio St. after the genuflecting to Jim Tressel?

    • LosGatosCA says:

      Public facts seem to indicate he’s a pompous moron.

      “Boise State president Bob Kustra, in an interview with the Idaho Statesman, returned fire.

      “The BCS has finally found someone to stand up and defend the indefensible and Gordon Gee proved it — he not just proved that it’s indefensible but he did so with facts that are simply wrong,” Kustra told the newspaper.”

      Looks like a definite pattern of malicious ignorance.

    • snarkout says:

      We ran him out of Brown after a year. (Or, if you prefer, he scented more money to be made shaking down Vandy and dropped us like a hot potato.) He’s awful.

  6. elm says:

    Wow, Gordon Gee talking gobbledy-gook and contradicting himself? Maybe it’s the Michigan graduate in me talking, but I am hardly surprised!

    On the other hand, I don’t understand Rob’s suggestion for the ulterior motive: how does double-majoring create bookkeeping headaches severe enough to ban (or restrict) them? Certainly the UT proposal would still lead to many double majors. At least where I work, most students who double (or triple) major seem to be able to do so because they come in with so many AP credits that their essentially 4th semester sophomores when they register for their first class and, as long as they put in a reasonable amount of work, don’t seem to struggle to graduate in 4 years.

    I suspect this is a well-meaning but fundamentally misguided (or, at least, unsupported) reform attempt.

    • Fake Irishman says:

      Go Blue! Although I have got to say that in my time here at UM as a grad student, I have grown really cynical about some of our own admins salaries. For a newspaper column a few years back when we hired a new provost, I pulled the salary records for top admins to estimate how much the raise was going to be. I estimated that it was going to cost us about a $45,000 increase on a $380,000 salary to get some one new. People said I was being outrageous. It turned out I was — I undershot by $50,000. We once gave our Hospital CEO a $500,000 bonus to stay on for one extra year. I calculated that would have been enough to cover the health insurance premia of all low-fraction grad student instructors (about 300 or so, and to be fair we did get that in the union contract later)

      At least we don’t pay our presidents more than $1 million like OSU…. yet.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        There’s just no reason. None at all. Running a uni is a demanding job, but so what. Lots of jobs are demanding.

        I really wish some corporation or university would have the courage to just offer really low administration salaries. They couldn’t fill the post? Pshaw!

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          Well this is hopeful!

          Trustees at the University of Connecticut are reviewing administrative salaries at the school’s main campus in Storrs, following a controversy over the compensation of the school’s former police chief, who received $256,000 annually—more than New York City’s police commissioner.

          Indeed. Having 34,500 uniformed officers and an annual budget of $3.9 billion is NOTHING compared to running a campas police force protecting and serving <40k people!

          Sheesh.

      • elm says:

        The hospital CEO getting tons of money makes some sense: my understanding is that the hospital is actually a profit-center for Michigan and the CEO is usually the highest paid person in the university.

        But, yes, my love for Michigan does not blind me to the fact that we are part of the problem of overpaid adminstrators. However, at least our presidents haven’t been as buffoonish as Gee.

        • mpowell says:

          It’s inevitable for hospital positions. You are effectively managing doctors, who average around 200K in salary. There’s just no way your top level manager is going to make less than 2x your highest paid line level employee.

          • Fake Irishman says:

            Just to be clear, this wasn’t the ANNUAL salary, this was a one-time payment of $500,000 to keep him in the position for one year on top of his $600,000 salary (this was five years ago).

  7. So why, then, are prominent figures in the higher-education community promoting the idea of narrowing student choice?

    Because Europe has a three-year first degree.

    • Bijan Parsia says:

      But they aren’t proposing that. I’d support that. You still have to do 4 years to gain enough credits, but you can’t do/get a double major.

      I didn’t double major, but I liked the option. I wanted more diversity…other people wanted more depth in their diversity. As long as it’s 4 years, who cares?

      • Pinko Punko says:

        They want it to be a widget factory, and they want a narrow range of widgets. What they do down in this Perry-ian hellscape- if you carry over x credits, you pay out of state tuition, even if in state. You know who carries extra credits? Students that struggle through, and have to work and go to class. Students that come in with a ton of AP credits and actually want to learn something by taking 4 years of classes, or double major in unrelated fields that don’t have overlap in pre-reqs (let’s not have any special or extra-talented widgets), or the lowest of the low, students that change their mind about their area of study halfway through college. Gee is a cobag and a disgrace.

          • Pinko Punko says:

            They want more people in the system. They think this is like selling more product. They don’t realize that more students in means the average student quality goes down. While many schools are somewhat selective, many that are not selected are also not prepared. If you go down the list the probability of students not being prepared will increase.

            Please enjoy this jaw dropping trainwreck from a Board of Regents member at a 50,000 student Big State U.

            http://youtu.be/P7aqYLAHpZU

            It is 4.5 minutes long and I don’t know where to excerpt it because it is the entire ideological mindset that is driving this movement.

            These comments were in follow up to another regent that said [shorter] “I’m so happy that Big State U has just set all these record benchmarks for productivity and what not. If any of these numbers drop in the future, people should get fired. Graduation rates changes in the negative direction should result in firings. Also, the student pool should be increased by 10,000 students with no effect on graduate rates, why would they?”

      • But they aren’t proposing that.

        They’re nosing around it and plenty of institutions are headed in that direction. The narrowing of options will eventually see the liberal arts degree destroyed; Europeans are coming to North American grad schools with their degrees, so why should Americans do more?

        • Bijan Parsia says:

          If they were proposing that, I think it arguably is a good idea. Nothing has shaken my faith in the US 4-year liberal arts model is my experience in the UK. It’s really unclear what the value add is for the typical person.

          I enjoyed breath, but I’m an outlier. Given the expense, I would like people to consider what’s actually helpful.

          • Bill Murray says:

            helpful to what and for what?

            • Exactly. I appreciate that everything else in the world has gone insane and the extra year is harder to justify in that sense, but North America had a pretty good century going there and I like to delude myself into thinking that educational breadth had something to do with it.

              • Bijan Parsia says:

                The question is whether that is a delusion. What’s the marginal gain of the non-focused classes? What’s the loss? What’s the loss to people who don’t want to take those extra classes?

                I’m really not convinced that a liberal arts education makes people more rounded, at least at the university level. I remember stuff from my long ago classes, and they have some influence of me, but I went to grad school and specialized. Most people do. Giving opportunities over a lifetime to branch out and transition to new things seems more important than doing so once for young people. (Breath requirements can suck hard for non-trad students.)

                Again, I was really skeptical about other models, but the point of fact is that there’s no evidence, afaict, that UK BA/Ss, MScs, or PhDs are worse off for completing in 3, 1, or 3/4 years. (I feel there probably is a bit of missed stuff for PhDs not having course work and we recently shifted to a 4 year program wherein the first year there’s some choice and coursework…but most people have made up their minds before hand!)

            • Bijan Parsia says:

              Helpful to students in living their lives as well as to society in being just, prosperous, and enjoyable.

    • They also have HS graduation standards that would make most US college admissions officers cry.

      Strip out most of the distribution requirements, force students to declare a major on entry, and then fund them so they don’t have to work 30+ hours a week at minimum-wage jobs while “studying”….

      Sure, three years works.

  8. Charles says:

    My experience is that double (or triple) majors graduate within four years the same as everyone else, but their schedules must be much more rigidly structured, without as much room for exploring courses outside the major requirements.

    • Charles says:

      Also, maybe it’s just at my institution, but there does seem to be a kind of major inflation among students who are high-achievers and crave that extra credential to satisfy their need to stand out. It’s not necessarily that these kids have rationally assessed the value of having an extra degree, but that they’ve been trained to accumulate as many merit badges as possible in life.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        But so? Hardly the worst thing.

        I mean, I like the option of exploring…but what is wrong with the option of doing two things in more depth? Double majors come *after* requirements (usually) so they’ve had a lot of breath.

    • wengler says:

      I double-majored history and poli sci in 3 years, though I had almost a year’s worth of AP credits coming in. It wasn’t any more time. It cost the same amount of money. I took courses outside of those departments.

      Gee has succeeded in his first test as overpaid administrator in making up bullshit instead of favoring facts.

    • joe ro says:

      My impression is exactly the same. I admit this is just a personal impression, which may not hold up to scrutiny; however, I saw students desperate for the credential and it seems to stifle truly exploring new and interesting courses. I gently discouraged it. Having said that, I don’t see the purpose (without a lot more evidence) of banning them.

      • joe ro says:

        Also while it is probably true that most double majors are in related fields (I see a lot of pol sic — my field — and history or economics) I have also seen some fascinating combinations. I had an advisee who was an art major and political science major. He wasn’t the best student in political science, but he certainly brought a fascinating and different perspective to the subject.

  9. Bijan Parsia says:

    Hmm. Prima facie, while a double major needn’t make you more attractive to any particular employer, at least, in principle it could make you attractive to *more* employers. If I double major is computer science and psychology, I presumably can apply for jobs that require either. Now if I major in philosophy and psychology, I probably haven’t expanded my pool over psychology. (A CS/psych double major could have a leg up as a usability person.)

    • ploeg says:

      Prima facie, double majors tend to be in related fields (for example, math/physics), and if so, the pool of potential employers isn’t expanded very much.

      If the double majors were in unrelated fields, my first thought would be that you started out in one, found that it sucked, but decided to go ahead and pick up the major anyway while going for a major in your true field of interest. Or, if one major has substantially less job potential than the other, that the one major is your true choice but the other major is your fallback or the major to make your parents happy (see Darkrose below).

      Now, if you truly had a specific type of job where the two majors would be useful if not necessary, that would constrict the number of jobs that you want, even though it expands the number of jobs that you could do.

      • greylocks says:

        A double major in comp sci and electrical engineering from a school respected for both won’t expand your job market — if anything it will shrink it because of the perception you are overqualified for most entry-level comp-sci positions — but it will make you hugely more competitive in the EE field and get you a higher starting salary. This is well-known.

        I can’t offhand think of any other double that has such high guaranteed utility.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        a facie, double majors tend to be in related fields (for example, math/physics), and if so, the pool of potential employers isn’t expanded very much.

        Right, thus if those sorts dominate the pool then it won’t do any good in practice even if it could help in theory.

  10. Mike L. says:

    Shoot, under my college’s once course at a time plan (aka OCAAT) it wasn’t even difficult to work in a double major. I was talented (but not especially hard-working or organized) student and picked up a double-major in 4 years, and almost picked up a minor too (sheerly by accident). More to the point, most double-majors are at least pretty good students, perfectly capable of managing the modest additional workload. If they want to go for it, there’s little (defensible) reason to stop them.

  11. Sean McKeever says:

    I’d put most of my money on, as has been said, stupidity and indifference. But I’d put a little money on conspiratorial and sinister. Many students who double major do so to supplement a major they perceive to be less practical/marketable with one that is more so. Hence the music/econ double major. If the double is not an option, which major will such students predominantly stick with. And as the numbers add up we will get justifications for re-directing yet more resources to the practical/marketable. To remain strong, departments and programs need to justify themselves not simply by enrollments but by majors…

    • Darkrose says:

      Ding. I majored in Drama and Communication. Drama was what I wanted to do; Communication was to keep my mother from completely blowing a gasket about my not learning something practical. I graduated in four years, too.

      And of course, now I’m doing something that involves neither. Go figure.

      • BigHank53 says:

        Snort. Like most degrees, then. One of the best techs I knew at NASA had a music BA.

      • JohnMcC says:

        Thank you my friend Mr/Ms Rose for giving me a good entry into this thread. I too ended up with a double-major (History/Psych) but pretty much by accident. I’d gotten out of the military in ’68 after being in VietNam for a year (’66-’67). I was on fire to discover how the country of my birth — that I had been taught all the usual Eisenhower-era ‘America the Beautiful’ stuff about and that I had believed utterly — turned out to be total lies. How was that possible? I had a huge need to find a tree-filled place of learned gentlemen and old brick buildings and vast libraries so I could figure out what kind of country and world I lived in.

        Spent five years taking full course loads, going without interruption, all four quarters. Haunted the libraries. Took graduate level courses for undergrad credit because I loved the profs or ‘needed’ to know the material covered.

        Finally graduated because I was married and we’d decided to have a kid. The lady in the registrar’s office who totalled up all my hours (I had no idea how many I had) said she’d never seen so many on one undergrad transcript. I could have taken a couple more courses and then done student-teaching and added Anthropology & a Teacher’s Certificate.

        And like you, I ended up working a 35yr career in a totally unrelated field that I ‘acquired’ by going to Community College.

        But those five years were the foundation for a wonderful life. Probably saved my life.

    • JL says:

      Along similar lines, I knew people who double majored because their parents were dead set on them majoring in something, to the point of pulling their tuition if they didn’t, but it wasn’t what they actually wanted to study.

    • thefax says:

      I think there’s something to this. It’s similar in spirit to Rick Scott’s plan to charge students more for non-STEM courses.

  12. pine says:

    My dbl major narrowed my academic pursuits to a large degree. Almost all my courses beyond the reqs were in one of the majors
    Wish I had taken a couple of fun classes now but at the time I was happy because those were the two fields i was interested in.

  13. cpinva says:

    sounds like mr. gee could well be the 2016 republican candidate for president.

    i majored in accounting, minored in econ. (don’t ask). oddly enough, the two fit very nicely together. another couple of econ classes, and i could have had a double major. i could have taken those classes and worked at the same time. however, i was freakin tired of school by that point, and needed a break. being ADD has its drawbacks.

  14. greylocks says:

    IME, which is outdated (early 70s), 95% of the people I knew who didn’t graduate either (a) got drafted (b) ran out of money, (c) got job offers they felt they couldn’t pass up, and decided to finish their degree later, (d) were more interested in partying than studying, or (e) were in over their heads, either because they just weren’t that bright or because they didn’t have the necessary literacy and math skills.

    • JoyfulA says:

      I don’t understand the huge emphasis on graduating “on time.” It’s like factories with production quotas. I worked out of high school because I didn’t want to become a teacher, the only major female job option to require college at the time. Then I was bored and sought intellectual stimulation, so I went to college. Then I missed the real world and worked full-time. Rinse and repeat. I realize I didn’t fit the structure of colleges or the structure of corporate hiring, and no doubt I missed money or titles or advancement along the way, but eventually I earned a master’s, and I’ve been making a (modest) living mixing real world and academia for decades.

      I apologize for messing up the college bureaucracy’s numbers, but I’ve been happy and productive.

      • Bijan Parsia says:

        I don’t understand the huge emphasis on graduating “on time.”

        If we believe we have a 4 year program, then it should be the norm that people can graduate in 4 years. If people are not finishing in 4 years normally, then there is some problem in our pedagogy, at least potentially.

        Now it might be because people want to do more, which is fine, but it’s a really expensive move. So we have a pretty high duty to make sure that it is a real and rational choice rather than an educational failure.

    • DrDick says:

      Same here and I date to the same era. I would say that is mostly true for the students I see today as well. A lot take longer because they cannot go full-time as they have to work to pay for it and others take a while to “find themselves” and drift between majors before settling in.

      • anecdotes says:

        The students I deal with (large state school) are having difficulty graduating in four years because of:

        1)they are working over 25+ hours a week and living at home
        so there are additional family demands on their time

        2)they can not get into courses necessary to advance in their major often only offered once per year

        3)they are doing poorly in engineering or hard sciences so they need to change majors or retake some of the classes in which they did not get credit (C or better)

        73) they are attempting to double major

  15. Marc says:

    Double majors do create logistical challenges in graduating because of the way that most major programs are structured. Closely related departments frequently don’t co-ordinate required classes, and there is a lot of administrative overhead related to checking things like whether this anthropology class counts for some category of history majors. It’s also true that double majors usually come at the expense of electives.

    Banning them is silly, but emphasizing major + minor programs, which are typically more flexible, is a good idea.

  16. DrDick says:

    I thought solving nonexistent problems (or even inventing them) while ignoring actual problems was the core responsibility of college administrators.

  17. Leigh says:

    I got to the near-end of my major, which did require a lot of math, discovered at the time I was about to graduate that the job market was not so great, went back and spent another couple years in Computer Science, and graduated into the dotcom 1990s boom. I expect a lot of people realize that how much money you end up making in later life is directly dependent on what year you graduate. If this bonehead had any compassion for what a job market looks like for normal people, he would know this.

  18. Helmut Monotreme says:

    I double majored in Fine Arts with a theater emphasis and Industrial Technology Management with a minor in Plastics processing technology. It took me six years plus two summer internships. It took six years, because it took me two years it took me two years to figure out engineering wasn’t for me. Also, because I had a lot of growing up to do.

    Mostly I work in IT. I have worked at help desks, at universities and bicycle factories, as a system administrator at a glass factory and as a cabling installer at McMurdo Station in Antarctica and as a computer operations/SQL/IT generalist at a company that makes air filters.

    If I had to do it over, I would have doubled down, studied harder and graduate with degrees in engineering or computer science. Still everyone has to find the path through life that works for them. Some of us don’t fit very well into narrow one major in four year boxes.

  19. When I was at Brown, the double major issue was handled by charging the student extra to get both degrees. (It was several thousand dollars at the time – about 20% of one year’s tuition, IIRC.) If you didn;t pay, you got your diploma and the major you’d chosen, and a note that you had “completed the requirements” for a degree in ____.

    I remember wondering how they got anyone to pony up the extra $$ for an extra piece of paper, but there were a lot of people with disposable income running around, so it did happen.

    • kerFuFFler says:

      How awful that they deny a student a double degree if they have completed all the coursework but cannot afford such a whopping fee! I’m glad my youngest just graduated with his double major from U of M. It took five years but we were happy to pay the extra tuition to allow him to study music while simultaneously getting a fall-back stats degree.

      College is not just about developing careers. Our society is richer and more interesting when young people feel free to develop skills and mastery in fields even if they do not expect to earn a living from them.

  20. Hank says:

    I doubled in electrical engineering and computer science. It took 5 years because they limited the number of classes I could count for both majors.

    The best double major I knew was a friend who did math and dance.

  21. Andrew Burday says:

    Wow, a little googling reveals that Gordon Gee is an interesting fellow. I don’t have more time to spend looking it up, so let me ask: does anybody know what the “National Commission on Higher Education Attainment” actually is? Is this a group we should take seriously? I mean, beyond the fact that they managed to get themselves written up on Time’s website, do they actually represent anybody who matters? Pending an answer, I’d like to urge caution on assuming that they represent the views of “administrators”. No question there are crappy, cynical administrators out there, but is this commission actually speaking for anyone except itself and its financial backers (and I’d be interested in knowing who they are)?

  22. arthur says:

    I double majored in economics and philosophy. Each major convinced me not to seek graduate study or a career in the other one.

  23. E Gordon Gee says:

    Those memorial laboratories don’t justify themselves!

  24. Aaron says:

    I’m sorry – I thought I heard Gordon Gee et al. say the problem was students dilly-dallying around and having to stay (and pay) for a fifth (or sixth!) year.

    And here I thought even the most cursory look at the data suggested that dropping out – due to academic unpreparedness or, what’s it called, oh yes, lack of money – during or immediately after the first year and/or being enrolled in an oversubscribed school/program where it’s not possible to register for the required courses in four years were the primary causes of low four-year graduation rates.

    Imagine my relief to learn that it’s that guy playing hackysack who wants to major in philosophy *and* business who’s causing all the trouble. I have an idea: let’s not only ban double majors, let’s ban non-academic activities, particularly those of the hippie variety. You know, hackysack, acoustic guitar, bongs, listening to Grateful Dead/Phish bootlegs, etc.

  25. cj says:

    I don’t know if I speak for the majority (or even anyone else) but my double major was simply a product of degree prerequisite rigidity. Going into a fall semester, the final class I needed to acquire my original major was only available in spring semester. So I just turned my history minor into a major because, hey, that scholarship money wasn’t going to spend itself.

    • LA says:

      at many unis govt/poli sci and history seem built for double majoring. Students add a few extra classes and a senior seminar in one field and voilà they are now double majors.

  26. shah8 says:

    I tried for a double major in engineering (materials science) and biology–a liberal arts education with that biology, and then lots and lots of engineering classes at an polytechnic. Didn’t make it on the Materials Science part. Not least because I kept adding biology courses to my already heavy engineering courses–one severe disadvantage is that you really really needed those easy noncore classes to fill up your schedule. So on my second semester there, I had 16 hours of top to bottom hard core classes and killed myself–especially given that I was a terrible student in terms of needed reliable math and writing skills (and focus).

    I did a double major mostly because I had visions of being a mad scientist. Not particularly rational, I know. However, lack of jobs aside, I understand the world profoundly better than if I had taken an easier road and gotten a business degree on time with As. And who can say that I would have been any more successful financial-wise?

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