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These smaller programs can do a lot to round you out as a student.

Getting a minor can be the edge you need to land your dream job (Image via Quinnipiac University)

Choosing what to study during your college career can be a daunting decision. What you decide to learn about has the ability to impact your future career paths, income, and honestly, your overall satisfaction with life as well. It’s no wonder, then, why so many students are reluctant to pick a major and subsequently switch majors (as many as 50 to 75 percent of students change majors at least once before getting their degree!).

Lots of students may also feel pressured into studying a particular field because it may lead to potentially lucrative careers, or the students’ parents strongly advised them to do so. With all of this stress weighing on a student, what’s one to do when they feel academically stuck in their major? Well, that’s where minors come in.

Adding minors to your college degree can be a major decision. For those who’ve always heard of, but have never really known what a minor is, it’s a secondary discipline that students can add to their degree that can be completed with fewer classes than the typical major. Generally, minors can be completed with about five or six college courses. Nifty, huh? There are some useful benefits that come with adding a minor to your degree. For one, it allows you to get the feel of a particular major without all of the commitment.

For instance, you may find yourself at one point interested in a field that typically requires some sort of entrance exam—like Nursing or Advertising—but you may not be entirely sure that you want to fully immerse yourself as a major in that field. With minors, you can begin to take classes that students in the full-fledged major would take, but without having to worry about an impending exam. If you find yourself wanting, however, to tackle those classes as a major, great! Lots of the classes that students can select from when they add a minor to their degree often end up being prerequisites for similar majors.

Some of you might be reading this and thinking, “Well, I’m happy with what I’m studying now. So, what?” Something for those students to consider is the edge that minors can add to your degree. Minors can enhance the majors you may already have as supplementary skills to showcase. In our current economic climate, graduates are in an ever-competitive hunt for jobs to jumpstart their career. For young college grads, unemployment is 5.6 percent and underemployment (which is when highly skilled people work in low-wage jobs) is at 12.6 percent, both of which are larger than they were in 2007.

By adding a minor to your degree, it allows you to highlight your major and show off particular assets to employers. For instance, if you were seeking out a job in the nonprofit field, adding a minor in Nonprofit Management would help you stick out amongst other candidates for careers you’re applying for.

Consider getting a minor to shows off your less-obvious talents (Image via University of Nebraska Omaha)

Adding a minor also can show off skills that employers might not otherwise know about. Not only will you sharpen and refine your skills and intellect in a particular field, but it’ll make you more marketable to future employers. For instance, if you’re a Political Science major, adding a minor in Statistics shows that you have a knack for understanding and disseminating analytical information. Furthermore, having a minor in addition to whatever your major is shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile to broaden your knowledge. It also buffs up the Education part of your resume, which doesn’t hurt, either.

Do you think that adding a minor might be right for you? Here are a few tips for people who are considering adding a minor to their degree.

1. Declare Sooner Rather Than Later

No pressure, but if you’re starting up your senior year at college, adding a minor will most likely set you back a semester, depending on what courses you have left to finish. If you don’t mind graduating slightly later than anticipated, then go right ahead! (Or, maybe, you can talk with one of your college’s advisors.)

2. Highlight Your Skills

If you’re seeking to add a minor to your degree but you’re not sure just what you’d like to pick, think of your strengths. Are you business savvy? Maybe you’d enjoy Entrepreneurship. Or perhaps you’re a STEM major with a knack for the human condition—Medical Anthropology may tickle your fancy.

 3. Talk to an Advisor

If all else fails and you’re still unsure of the best course of action for your academic future, you can’t go wrong with talking to an advisor within your college. Advisors can help direct you towards the best classes, majors and schedules that suit your wants and needs. Helping you plan your future is what they do for a living, after all.

As for me, I can decisively say that I am the most indecisive person I know. Coming into college, I found myself spending countless hours on different college sites, reading up on majors and programs that caught my eye. It took me ages to come to the majors I’m taking today: English and Political Science. Throughout my freshman year, I found these classes to be interesting, but there was something just nagging me at the back of my mind. For some reason, I still wasn’t entirely satisfied with the things I was studying. Yes, I did love my classes, but I wanted something more. Lo and behold, I took a trip to my university’s Minors and Certificates page.

After some clicking and scrolling, I came across a minor that really grabbed my attention: Mass Communications. I’d always found the world of advertising and public relations to be fascinating, and after talking to a few people taking the classes within the minor, I saw myself wanting to really study the field—so I added it to my degree!

In the end, students might never be entirely content with what they’re studying. Even though minors may help discern a student’s passion, you’re never limited to just your degree. Majors and minors are just the springboard to best help jumpstart your future.

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