Most colleges and universities are beginning to require students to have minors along with their majors to add value to their degrees and gain a competitive edge in the job market.
Declaring a minor requires students to take a certain amount of credit hours in a concentration outside of their major.
Some schools, such as the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, require students to take 12 hours to declare a minor, while others such as the College of Education require students to take 18 hours for a minor.
Majors are one of the main things companies look at when hiring someone, but some companies even look at minors to help determine whether a person is qualified.
Jennifer Dossman, the business manager for Express Personnel Services, a company that helps other companies find qualified employees to fill vacant positions, said minors only enhance your chances of getting a job.
“When companies are looking for employees, they are looking at the major of the potential hire, which tells them what field they have knowledge in,” Dossman said. “They may also look at the experience they have in the field, and then they may look at the minor if it compliments what the company is looking for. Minors become important if it enhances your skills or knowledge in a certain field.”
Minors may open up other career paths for the student if one path does not seem to be the right fit. One minor that sometimes seems to jump out at companies is a foreign language minor. In certain states, being bilingual is becoming a standard in the hiring process.
Graduate Feeder Director of Fellowship Programs and Academic Affairs Linda Knight said minors are very beneficial to a student’s career path, whether for a job or graduate school purposes.
“Minors allow students flexibility to go down different career paths and give them more insight in particular areas of study,” Knight said. “I believe they really help students cement the foundation of their academic career.”
Knight said she understand some students do not see the value of a minor.
“Minors in some student’s eyes are a waste of time and money though,” she said. “Some students feel that they shouldn’t be required to have a minor because it distracts them from their major.”
However, some students understand the benefits of having a minor.
“I declared a minor in business because I knew it would make me more rounded in the field of economics,” said William Allen, 22, a fifth-year economics student from Milwaukee.
“I knew I wanted to be in the finance and economics industry when I was in high school,” he said. “The way the economics curriculum is set up at FAMU, you feel like you have a minor in math, business and writing because you’re required to take classes in business, math and even writing. That’s three undeclared minors right there.
“I didn’t even declare math or writing as a minor, but I feel like I did,” Allen continued.
Erin Blake, 18, a first-year pharmacy student from Atlanta, said students should be able to choose if they want a minor or not.
“Having a minor should be optional,” Blake said. “Some people don’t have the money to pay for the additional courses needed to declare a minor. I haven’t declared a minor and probably won’t because the work load in pharmacy is so strenuous, I don’t see how I would have time to focus on another program of study.”
Blake added that as beneficial as a minor might be, time is a definite factor.
“Having a minor that pertains to the medical field probably could help me when I’m looking for a job, but I just don’t see how I would have the time,” she said.