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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Are Two Majors Better Than One?

Some prevailing beliefs today seem to be that two majors are better than one, that a major and a minor are better than having one major, and that two concentrations rather than one would be a very desirable combination for the career oriented student. These beliefs seem to be rooted in the assumption that this kind of “flexibility” will enhance marketability with employers. At first glance this seems to be a reasonable proposition, and its practicality has some merit. Also, it is easy to see the learning treasures that come from each academic department at UMass Boston. However this type of approach to choosing a major does not really illuminate the complete reality of a successful process.

Rather than take the approach that focuses on the outcome over the process—and the “more is better” strategy—it might be good to consider reversing the process. When reversed, the process looks at your own skills, interests, aptitudes, personality and experiences as starting points, as well as actuating forces. For example it does not assume that biomedical careers are best for everyone, or that the relative security of an accounting career makes it a good choice for a majority of students, or that a short- term, lucrative high tech position will always lead to lifelong fulfillment.

So, what are the simple questions to ask yourself, if you are making “major” decisions? There are really three basic questions to consider. Do I enjoy studying the material in a particular major? Is there evidence that I can do well academically in a particular major? Can I make a connection to the world of work with a particular major in mind? Answering “yes” to these three questions will ensure a greater likelihood of success in a major, whether it is in the liberal arts, science and mathematics, management or any other major on the UMass Boston menu.

To determine whether or not you enjoy a major simply take courses in that area and evaluate your experience. Your academic performance in those courses will be a guide as to how well it matches with your strengths—helping to answer question two. And finally, meeting with a career counselor in our office and taking Pinpoint (our career assessment tool) will help you answer question three, as well as all of the three critical questions.

Once a major choice is wisely made, you may begin to enhance your academic foundation by adding a major, a minor, or a group of relevant courses. Always keep in mind, that in enhancing your program, you must maintain a solid GPA. This decision-making approach will do much to build success, inspire confidence, and increase career satisfaction. As a particularly useful benefit, it will help you answer the inevitable questions that arise at family gatherings: “what are you majoring in?” and “what are you going to do with your ________ major?”