Before I started college, I understood very little “college jargon,” such as majors, minors, concentrations, and certifications.  Even now, I’m no expert on what separates a minor from a certification and other licenses.  I do, however, see the importance of a well-rounded education, and I recognize that minors can help provide that.

Some majors–like my own–require you to have a minor accompanying your main area of study in order to graduate with that degree.  Others aren’t so strict, but I still believe it’s beneficial to anyone in any major to add a minor (or two) to balance things.

These are six good reasons why you need a minor, and how to go about choosing one that will help you get further in your future career.

Get Your Money’s Worth

high cost of college

College is expensive.  Even if you are covered by grants and scholarships, you are still spending a lot time and effort, if not at least some money, on your education.  If you’re going to take that time and spend that money, why not make the most of it?

Hopefully all of you Physics majors can get a job in the sciences, but if not, you’re going to want a backup plan, such as expertise in business or writing.

Increase Your Employment Chances

When you have that expertise in not just the hard sciences, but in other areas (or in any other combination), you are undoubtedly going to look more appealing to an employer than someone who just took classes in one discipline.  You’ll get some rounding in your general education classes, but a minor boosts that and makes a particular area even stronger.

Show employers that you are willing to take the extra initiative to learn more by taking on a bit of extra work while you’re still in college.

Follow Your Passion

You may have chosen a major based on what you love, but many people don’t.  I’ve talked to several students that have chosen a major based on what makes more money, as well as what will be most likely to land them a job after graduation.  If that sounds a lot like you, then a minor can allow you to take classes in a field you love and help you to enjoy college.

For example, if you’ve chosen to major in Economics because it has a strong outlook for the future (and it typically does), then you might choose something like Creative Writing because you love to write or something like Political Science because you love politics.

It may not help you much with your major or future career (though chances are it will in some way), but if it helps you get through school, I’d say it’s worth doing it anyways.

Lead to a Double Major/Second Degree

You may get into your minor and discover that you really like it and want to double major in it along with your existing major (or you may change/swap your current major).  Having a minor started helps you do that because most minor requirements are the foundation for the major in the subject.  You’ll need more classes, of course, but you’ll be closer than you would be if you just woke up one day and decided to change or add a major.

Additionally, if you get out of college and realize your degree (based on your original major) isn’t getting you any jobs or offers, you have a minor that you can build off of by going back to school if you have to.  You’ve already experimented, you’ve already started the classes in the program, so you can pick up where you left off (if your school allows it) to get a good paying job down the road.

Less Time, Less Effort

I’ve already mentioned how adding a minor will make you look more appealing to an employer by having that extra knowledge that not all candidates have.  Adding a minor to complement your major can give you a basic understanding of that subject in less time than adding a second major or going back for a second degree.

 You won’t get as much information, but you can certainly get enough to grasp the concepts and take something out of the program by the time you are done.

Complement Your Major with the Right Combo

foreign language minor

It’s a lot like going to McDonald’s and ordering a combo.  A burger and fries perfectly complement each other for a nice meal.  The same is true about certain major/minor combos.  Of course, it would be impossible for me to list out every single combination because there really is no wrong pairing as long as it can help you with what you want to do in life.  Here are, however, a few minors that can help almost any major:

  • Business – It may be called different names, like Business Administration or management,  but the basics are still there.  No matter where you work or what field you go into, you will be working for some sort of company.  Knowing how that company works and understanding the bureaucracy of it will be helpful to you at some point.

  • Communications – I could be a tad biased as a communications major, but I will defend the benefits of at least a communications minor to anyone.  It isn’t all common sense, and it is so much more than just “talking to people” like the stereotype suggests.  If you’re interested in understanding how people think and why we say the things we do, minor in communications.

  • Foreign Language – This won’t be easy, but if you can add a foreign language that you can at least be semi fluent in, your employment prospects go way up.  Spanish/English speakers are in high demand right now and any profession that requires travel will benefit from knowing the language of a particular country.

  • Psychology – This goes along with communication but works with the mind and how people think instead of how we communicate.  It still helps you when working with people – which you will never fully avoid – and can be beneficial to any career.

Those are only four minors, and there are countless others that you can choose from,  including those that fit your major better.  Regardless of what you choose, I hope you will at least choose one and take the time to add to your knowledge and expertise now while it’s available to you.  You won’t regret it.