Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
I always knew I loved writing, and when I was in high school, I realized I wanted to pursue journalism as a career. I also knew I was interested in learning about government. Going into my college search, I figured I’d be able to study both — but then I found out there’s no government and politics minor at the University of Maryland.
After my freshman year, I chose to double major. The larger workload wasn’t an easy decision, and it wasn’t cheap, either. But doubling up on majors instead of having a minor is the only way I could have the college experience I was seeking. Though this worked for me, it won’t for others.
This university needs to expand its list of minors so students can pursue all their academic interests in a way that works for them. The university already has the infrastructure for some minors, so they should listen to students to make this learning possible.
Across multiple schools and programs, this university doesn’t give students many option for minors that suit them. The information studies college doesn’t have any minors at all, and there are limited general minors, such as biology, for students looking to study STEM.
In theory, students without access to a minor could simply double major in the subject, like I did. But not every student is able to take on a prohibitively expensive double major. Some students have to graduate early and can’t fit in a double major’s course load. Others would have to take expensive summer or winter classes to graduate in four years.
Aside from the fact that students would benefit from more minor options in college, they would also benefit from them post-graduation. Interdisciplinary programs help “create a powerful learning experience” that strengthens students’ critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Students can also benefit from exploring their talents and passions in an academic setting, which can help foster a love of learning.
In addition to the intellectual benefits of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary learning, it can also help students’ professional development. Employers will see students with minors on their transcripts or resumes having multiple academic areas of interest, which may be a distinguishing feature giving applicants an advantage in the hiring process.
The University of Maryland needs to reevaluate its minor programs to ensure students receive the highest-quality education possible. Students who want to learn about and pursue their passions should have the opportunity to do so.
The university should gather feedback from students on what minors they want and work to gradually add more. This should not be that hard to implement, especially for subjects where there’s already a major; the classes already exist, so it should be possible to allow students to get credit for taking those classes in the form of a minor. Right now, a lot of students adapt their academic trajectory due to the lack of a minor they want to take, but that just shouldn’t have to happen.
Courtney Cohn is a sophomore journalism and government and politics double major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.