In the last decade, the number of college students choosing to major in multiple subjects has significantly increased. At the nation’s most elite schools, 30 to 40 percent of undergraduate students graduate with more than one major.
The reason for the increase of double majors at college campuses across the country is, what The New York Times describes as, the "credential arms race." Students make decisions based on the assumption that employers are impressed by double majors.
Many students believe a double major is necessary in order to remain competitive in the job market. Double majoring has become a necessary evil for some students, especially those relying on financial aid.
Students who do not rely on financial aid have a leg up on those who do. It is common for students relying on financial aid to work part-time jobs during college, which adds to the stress of keeping up with their peers who do not have to worry about money.
In a letter to the New York Times, Christian Hyde, a current undergraduate at Tulane University and double major in international relations and political economy, explains why he feels the need to double major.
“As the child of two parents without advanced degrees and someone who relies entirely on financial aid to attend college, I am painfully aware of the leg up many of my peers have … every day I am confronted with the reality that to achieve what they take for granted I must go above and beyond,” Hyde said.
The rise of double majors can also be attributed to “helicopter parenting.” Many parents pressure their kids to major in STEM fields, so students major in one field to satisfy their parents and major in another field they are truly interested in.
Parents are now more concerned than ever about the return on investment regarding which major their children pursue. Helicopter parenting is causing a sharp fall in the number of students pursuing liberal arts degrees.
Students should not feel pressured to double major because, in the end, employers likely care more about your abilities and work ethic. However, if students genuinely feel taking a double major will be beneficial to them, they should feel free to make the choice to do so.
Students should choose their majors based on what they are interested in, regardless of what their parents might want. Students who choose majors solely based on starting salaries will regret it in the end, because it will likely lead to a miserable career.
I feel lucky that my parents gave me complete freedom in pursuing whatever major I wanted, regardless of starting salaries and job outlook. That freedom has made my college experience that much more enjoyable knowing I am learning about subjects I am genuinely interested in and enjoy learning about.
Max Nedanovich is a 21-year-old mass communication junior from Mandeville, Louisiana.