When I started at Rutgers University in 2015, I had intentions to study psychology, and only psychology.
Sitting in my first-year orientation, I found out that I needed a second degree (double major, certificate, etc.) to graduate.
Initially, I was frustrated that Rutgers was messing up my master plan, but when I began working on my minor in cognitive neuroscience, I realized the utility of having a second degree. Because cognitive neuroscience is related to psychology, it complemented and added nuance to my learning. And when I applied to scholarships, fellowships, undergraduate research programs and graduate school, people noticed that I am a hardworking student with varied interests who can handle multiple responsibilities.
When I started teaching at Purdue, I was surprised to hear that this erudite institution didn’t require students to broaden their learning with another degree related to or outside of their major. I feel that Purdue should mandate that undergraduate students should pick up a second degree as a requirement to graduate to help students be more marketable and competitive.
If it won’t hurt students, then what’s the hesitation?
Regardless of whether this becomes a requirement, my message to undergraduates is this: college is a time to broaden your horizons and expand your interests, and you can do that with another degree. It doesn’t have to be related to your primary major — my best friend majored in kinesiology and voluntarily picked up an art minor in sculpture and is currently working as a licensed occupational therapist, as second degrees weren’t mandatory at her school.
Don’t limit yourself to one thing, especially when it doesn’t add an additional cost as long as you stay within the full-time limits. Widen your interests and expand your marketability with a second degree.
- Jessica Bowen, third-year doctoral student studying counseling psychology