If you’re planning your college major, you may want to know if it’s possible to add value with a minor. The answer is that it depends on your major, and some combinations of major and minor compliment each other while others don’t increase the value of your degree.
The Pros and Cons of a College Minor
In general, a minor doesn’t make a degree more attractive to employers, but some majors benefit from a carefully selected minor. For example, a degree in law or social work with a minor in Spanish shows that you’re particularly suited to work in Hispanic communities. Similarly, a degree in business or management information systems with a minor in computer science may help you get a job as an information systems manager or IT project leader.
Minors don’t usually make a difference in getting hired, though, and if you choose to declare a minor, you should research your field to find out if a minor will benefit you before declaring it. If the subjects of your major and minor are unrelated, spending the extra time and money on courses isn’t likely to make a difference. However, minoring in a field that interests you is a good backup plan in case your first choice isn’t as good as you thought it would be.
When you choose a minor, you typically have to complete about 20 hours of coursework towards a subject that usually doesn’t shorten the time it takes to finish your major. It takes a substantial investment of time and money to add a minor to your degree, and if you simply want to learn more about a subject, you might be better off learning about it online from the many free courses offered by universities like MIT and Yale. If you declare a minor, it should be to further your career or hedge your choice of major. Otherwise, you will be spending thousands of dollars on extra classes that won’t really benefit you enough to justify the cost.
Before free courses were offered on the Internet, declaring a minor was a good way to learn more about a side interest that you might be curious about pursuing professionally. Many students have minored in subjects simply because they enjoyed them and wanted to study them in college in addition to a major. This isn’t a bad reason, but it doesn’t make economic sense as the cost of tuition increases and fewer jobs are available without a master’s degree.
If these reasons don’t discourage you from minoring in a subject you enjoy, then there’s nothing wrong with declaring a minor simply because you want to. Alternatively, you might just enroll in the classes of your side interest for your elective credits and see if you can find free supplemental material online. If you decide to choose a minor as a backup plan in case your major doesn’t work out, you will be about halfway towards a second major. A much better investment would be to enroll in graduate school instead of getting a second bachelor’s degree.
College is an important investment to make, and since paying off your student loans can take 10 years, it makes sense to choose your courses carefully. You may not always be able to add value with a minor, but that shouldn’t discourage you from learning about a subject that interests you.