You have applied, been accepted into your favorite university and now you’ve picked a major. But what if you want to broaden your knowledge beyond what’s required to get that corner office or a Ph.D. someday? You likely have varied interests and college is the place to explore all the different subjects you can study. This is why you should pick a minor. A minor might complement your core study or it might simply be a way to become a well-rounded person.
What is a minor?
A minor is a subject that you study less thoroughly than a major. It requires fewer credit hours from the department than a major would, but it is still a fair grounding in a subject. By the time you finish a minor, you won’t have a broad and detailed knowledge of the intellectual area, but you will know more about it than if you had just taken a few courses in the subject.
Minors allow you to take courses you’re not using to fulfill major or bachelor’s degree requirements and fashion them into something cohesive. It becomes another tool in your toolkit.
You might want the minor to help you create a backup skill to rely on if your chosen career doesn’t succeed. Maybe you are hoping to become a historian someday, but you have a natural facility with computer languages. A minor lets you develop this to give you an opportunity to get a high-paying job if necessary.
Different college departments have different rules about minors. Not all subjects have a minor available in a given department. Check with your college or university to discover what you can study.
One of the most important aspects of a minor is that it helps you become exactly the kind of employee who is in demand in today’s workforce: someone with multiple skills and flexibility to perform different tasks. Choosing to develop extra expertise makes you a stronger candidate for a variety of jobs and gives your career a boost.
Learn About Program Requirements for a Minor
In many ways a minor parallels a major. You must complete a certain number of classes, which are rated by semester hours, or the number of hours per week of study you are required to perform. Some of these classes are mandatory because they teach facts and methods about the subject matter you are studying, which are considered to be particularly important. Other classes are electives.
Because a minor is taken alongside a major, there are other rules that make it slightly more complicated. You may be required to finish it at the same time you finish your major and obtain your degree. In addition, the school or the program may have different rules about how many classes are allowed to overlap with the classes you need for your major.
Schools generally want you to have a minor with classes dedicated to that study alone. You might not be able to minor in a subject that is within your major’s department for this reason. But a minor should be a way to branch out and obtain a broader education anyway. Take this as a challenge to explore other options.
You might not have an advisor for your minor. Some schools want you to consult with the professor who is advising you on your major to make sure you are adhering to the rules for this concentration. Be in contact with this person, as well as a professor in the department with your minor. You will have the opportunity to do this easily because you will be taking classes on this subject. Also, check with the office of the department for additional rules and information about the paperwork requirements and the timing of your courses.
Discover Where to Get a Minor
Most colleges and universities offer minors. However, as with majors, the key difference is in the size of the schools and their departments. The larger the program, the more professors they hire, and the more variety they offer in different minors.
Since minors aren’t required, the programs are often not given priority. Therefore, if having a minor in a particular subject is important and you want to attend a community college or other small institution, carefully check the information about the department to ensure it is available. You may have to substitute a double major in place of a minor or attend another institution.
This is where the difference between a college and a university comes into play. A university is a school that teaches undergraduates – students in the process of acquiring bachelor’s degrees – but it is also a school with advanced students and even research facilities.
A college usually has a smaller staff and just focuses on those first four years of study. Therefore, a university almost always has the resources to offer a larger selection of programs. This means you will get more options to pick your minor, as well as your major.
Of course, these larger schools generally cost more money. So you have to think carefully about the benefits and drawbacks of each and consider what arrangement of courses and subjects are required to fulfill your educational needs and launch your career.
Related article: Learn How to Choose the Right Bachelor’s Degree
Learn How to Apply for a Minor
Before you do anything else, check out your school’s website and find information about the department where you want to pick your minor. This gives you the facts about course requirements, the minimum number of hours you need to take and any paperwork you must file.
If necessary, call the department and talk to a professor or secretary who actually works there. You might have to go through several staff members to find who is in charge of helping students work through their minors, but it will be worth it.
The minor program is probably less involved than the major program. It may involve filling out forms and meeting a deadline. It might even involve having some supervision from the faculty, but you will not generally have to complete a large project or have a full-time advisor.
The details vary from school to school and from program to program, though, so it’s important to make sure you have as much information as you can get.
Choose wisely. Go to your school’s career or jobs’ placement office and schedule a meeting with an advisor to help you pick a subject that is truly useful in the working world. You might even want to reach out to alumni of the school who are in industries you are interested in entering. Ask questions about the kinds of skills that are in demand. Use this choice as an opportunity to develop a real bright spot on your future resume.
Find Out Why You Should Choose to Pursue a Minor
If you are going to spend the amount of money required for college, you want to make it count. You want to get as much value out of it as possible. Part of this is making sure your job skills are varied and truly useful. It’s good to have multiple areas of expertise.
Take every opportunity to develop deep knowledge about subjects that overlap and complement each other, making you an impressive job candidate.
However, taking advantage of college involves more than money. It’s also about life experience. Your years in college are a time to explore different areas of knowledge, to challenge yourself and to grow wiser and smarter as a person.
Taking on an interesting minor and then completing it tests your abilities more than just focusing on one useful subject and using it to get ahead. Studying more than one subject deeply enough to receive minor gains you deeper insight into the world around you. That’s not necessarily something to which you can attach a price tag, but it’s important.
Related Article: Learn How to Choose the Right Master’s Degree