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What Is A Minor And Should You Have One?

Updated: June 19, 2024 | Published: October 1, 2020

Updated: June 19, 2024

Published: October 1, 2020

What-Is-A-Minor-And-Should-You-Have-One (1)

Perhaps you’ve heard about a major in college; maybe you’ve already declared one or know what you plan on declaring when you start school. But what about a minor? And, what is a minor exactly?

While a minor can be a great way to make the most of your college academic experience while simultaneously making yourself a more versatile candidate once you enter the job market, it can also create a more demanding workload.

So, is a minor worth it? Let’s find out!

What Is A Minor In College? A Brief Overview

Before you decide whether or not a minor is right for you, it’s a good idea to know exactly what a minor is. A minor is a type of concentration or specialization that may coincide with your major or be completely different. It’s a secondary academic discipline to focus on while you’re in school, which may help you broaden or specify your expertise.

A minor can be thought of almost like a “mini-major” and it typically runs anywhere between an additional 18 to 30 credits.

An example of a minor related to a major would be an education student minoring in psychology. An example of a minor that’s not related to a major could be a mathematics major minoring in a foreign language.

5 Benefits Of Having A Minor

The reason that a person may consider taking up a minor is because there are many benefits to doing so.

1. A Minor Can Make You Stand Out

A minor does a lot of things for you as a student and eventually as a job candidate. First and foremost, it shows that you were able to take on a rigorous workload while in college, which demonstrates that you’re good at multitasking, deadlines, and a lot of work in general. It also, of course, makes you more multifaceted and able to understand many concepts at an intellectual level.

2. A Minor Can Help You Explore More Options

If you’re excited about all the learning you’re going to do in school but you’re not quite keen on the idea of studying on one specific path, then a minor can help you explore more options and expose you to different fields of study.

3. A Minor Can Be Fun!

If you enjoy studying, a minor can simply just be fun to pursue. For one, it’s more material to learn, and secondly, you can meet more people outside of those you meet in your major classes.

4. A Minor Can Help You Pivot Your Career

Even if a certain career field based on your major has promising job prospects and growth, you never know how technology and the economy could impact that. Having a minor — especially one that’s different than your major — can help you pivot into a different career if you’re not finding many opportunities in your major and/or you’re just looking for a change.

5. Having A Minor Can Give You More Job Opportunities

Not only does a minor help you pivot into a different career which will ideally lead to more job opportunities, it will also make you a strong candidate in your field to begin with. In the eyes of employers, a minor will set you apart from someone who studied the same major but did not do a minor, because it shows you’ve spent time specializing in an area.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Having A Minor?

As you can see, there are many benefits to having a minor. But, like with anything (especially if you’re pursuing an expensive degree!), there are also some drawbacks.

To begin with, a minor can take time and attention away from the courses in your major where you really need to be focusing the most.

Secondly, all this extra time spent may not only cut into your major, it could also very well cut into extracurricular activities and your social life, which is also important to have while in college.

Finally — and most important to many people — taking up a minor means more credits, so it means you will have to spend more money on top of what you’re already spending for your major.

Attending a school that’s tuition-free, like the University of the People, can mitigate some of these concerns.

Late night, open book on desk in front of candle, clock, and vase, studying for a minor
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

What To Ask Yourself Before Declaring A Minor

Now that you know the pros and the cons of declaring a minor in general, the next step is to ask yourself some questions before making that final decision. Do not declare a minor until you take this step.

1. Ask Yourself If And Why You Want To Minor

While there are many reasons to consider taking a minor, why do YOU want to do it? Your reasons may be different than somebody else’s, so it’s important to sit with this for a bit. What are you trying to achieve by taking on a minor? Weigh the pros and cons for you because that will help you make a better, more informed decision.

2. Assess If Taking On A Minor Is Doable

When you look at your schedule and your finances, do you think it will be feasible for you to take on a minor? Remember, it can be a lot of extra work and money to do this, but again, it could be beneficial to your future. A good tip is to meet with an academic advisor who can go over your schedule with you and see where a minor could fit in. You could also see what classes are required by your major AND your minor, so that you can kill two birds with one stone.

3. What Kinds Of Minors Are There?

There are many different minors to choose from, but your options will ultimately depend on what your school offers. Some majors have a minor that’s directly associated with it, and other schools will have minors (if they offer them) that stand on their own. If your school does offer minors, they’ll likely vary:

  • Foreign languages/Linguistics
  • Business
  • English Literature
  • Psychology/Sociology
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Religious Studies
  • Education

4. Should I Minor In Something?

At the end of the day, the decision to minor in something is solely up to you. That being said, it may be worth talking it over with friends, family, and an academic advisor. No one person can tell you whether or not you should minor, but if you’ve considered the pros and cons and it seems that a minor would benefit you, be interesting, and not be too much of an extra burden in terms of cost and time, then you should do it!

On the other hand, if you think it would cut into the time and money needed for your major, then it may not be worth it.

One of the reasons students choose to study a minor is because of all the benefits it offers. But, if your major and degree program cover all the bases (and then some) you’ll be in a good place when it comes time to start the job search.

At University of the People, we offer many degree programs that will prepare you for the future, without needing to take a minor.

Woman with pony-tail holding landline phone up to her ear
Image by Gundula Vogel from Pixabay

How To Choose Your Minor

So, you’ve decided you want to study a minor. A minor is a good opportunity to explore other academic ventures, job prospects, and simply your interests. But choosing a minor can be hard.

To help with your decision, you can ask yourself some questions:

  • What are your career goals?
  • What are your personal interests?
  • What minor would go well with your major, or offer you even more job opportunities?
  • How much time would this minor take you to complete in addition to the rest of your workload?
  • How much extra would it cost to take on this minor?

How To Declare A Minor

Once you’ve decided that you want to declare a minor (assuming you’ve already discussed to some extent with your college advisor), it’s time to declare it. Note that every school will have a different process for this.

In some schools, you may have to get approval from the registrar to enroll in the classes needed for your minor, or you may have to officially declare it and/or apply for the program. Make sure you give yourself more than enough time to do this, so that you don’t waste any time beginning the classes you’re required to take!

At UoPeople, our blog writers are thinkers, researchers, and experts dedicated to curating articles relevant to our mission: making higher education accessible to everyone.