Confessions of a Double Major: I Do It Because I Love It


A double major means double the books. (Photo illustration by JUSTIN REBOLLO/THE OBSERVER)


Double Major? Why would you do that to yourself? What’s the point? What are you going to do with that? These are all likely questions that you will get from family and friends once they find out that you are double majoring, at least they are the kinds of questions that I got from my apprehensive family and friends once they found out that I was double majoring in English and Communications with a concentration in journalism. But my reasoning is actually a lot simpler than they might think.

I’m a double major because I simply cannot choose between my love for English and my love for journalism. I also think that the two degrees complement each other beautifully. Ask any professional in written or broadcast journalism, and they will tell you that the key to being a great journalist is being a great writer. The key to being a great English major is deep critical thinking and the ability to form persuasive arguments (via the endless amount of research papers), and a genuine love for the written word. Not only do I love both majors, but I think the way that they overlap will help me compete in the field of journalism and make me more of an asset. But if there’s anything that college has taught me about myself, it’s that I like a fully packed schedule.

My double major isn’t a burden, it’s just a part of my life. It’s another piece of the puzzle for me. I’ve been pushing myself to work hard ever since I could remember. I’m currently working at my third internship at CBS and I’ve got one lined up for the summer at CNN.  I’m also hoping to land another one in the fall. Why do I do it? I love it. I love this industry. From early on I’ve loved it. The drive to push myself academically has always been there. As a journalist, you’ve got to stay hungry and stand out among thousands of other hopefuls. You’ve got to prove that you have the fire in your belly for an industry that never sleeps.  That kind of pressure doesn’t scare me. It’s a challenge that excites me every day, and being a double major is a stepping stool to reach my goals. Is time management hard? Sure it is. I miss events with friends once in a while, but most of the time I’m pretty good at carving out my schedule. Ask yourself what matters to you. Ask yourself who matters to you, and you will make the time.

If you’re a double major or considering becoming one, be aware that there might be a summer class or two involved in order to reach your degree requirements. I, myself, have to take one additional class to graduate with both majors on time. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get classes approved by your department chair and dean. You want to make sure that you’ve got enough time left in your academic career to double major. I’ve known since my freshman year. You don’t have to know that early in the game, but be smart about it, and make the most of your college experience. You’re going to be here for four years, you might as well soak in as much as you can. And above all, make sure that you are double majoring for yourself, and not for anyone else. Whatever you choose to study, make sure that you have some kind of vision for yourself. Why are you doing this? For me, it feels good to have both degrees on my résumé, and it’s often a conversation starter at interviews. That question of ‘why?’ always gives me a chance to display my true passion for what I’m studying.

Form a good relationship with your adviser, and make sure that he or she understands your goals from the very beginning. Professor Amy Aronson is the director of the New Media and Digital Design major, and is a Fordham College at Lincoln Center-based Communication and Media Studies professor. Aronson has been my academic adviser since my freshman year, and she has always been a guiding hand and source of encouragement. I asked her how she approaches students who want to double major and she said, “I encourage students to really think about the synergy of their double major.” I am amongst the many Communication and English double majors who have asked for her help. Her advice? “Think about the way that the two courses of study can complement each other, and whether that new combined terrain — which will be your true area of study — speaks to you.” But she cautions, “there’s a tradeoff with a double major. You don’t get to go as far in depth as you do when covering a single one.” What it really means? Be thoughtful and realistic, and if you decide to go forward, embrace your double major.  “If you set up conditions where there’s an interesting dialogue between the two areas, it’s most likely to be satisfying.”

Double majoring is not for the faint of heart. It’s all fun and games until you’re a second semester junior, making your fall schedule and scrambling to meet every core requirement that you can possibly pack into one schedule. It’s a lot of juggling and making sure you’ve got time carved out to tackle your workload.  Aronson notes that when you take on two majors that complement each other, it can lead to practical advantages — like the ability to “double dip” up to two courses. ”Double dipping can help you complete both majors on time without having to pay for additional classes,” she says.  Still, it’s a lot of calculating, and it’s a lot of hours lost on Degreeworks trying to potentially overlap your schedules so that you might dually satisfy something (but don’t bet on it).

Even after all that, I wouldn’t change my double major. If you have two loves, two passions that you want to pursue, then why not go for it? In most cases, double majoring won’t be easy, but it’ll definitely be worth it.