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Should English be my minor or 2nd major?

I have committed to my college as a psychology major. I am looking at a career in either (or both, if possible) research psychology or editing and publishing. Do you think I can land a job in editing when English is only my minor? Is it worth the extra effort to double major? How do minors show up on my degree anyway?
#major #english #college-major #englishliterature


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Megan’s Answer

For context, I majored in Journalism and minored in Psychology. In my region and school (University of Minnesota Twin Cities), Journalism was a more marketable degree than an English degree.

Journalism is a really hands-on approach to writing, researching, presenting data accurately, and distilling information in a way that people can consume. Also, the editing and publishing aspects you mention directly tie to Journalism curriculum. There are sometimes crossover requirements between Journalism and English programs, so it's worth checking out your options on both sides there.

Psychology is a common and often fun major. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that almost any career in the Psychology field after graduation requires a further Psych Master's degree. There are a bunch of paths you could take with Psychology - therapy, psychiatry, teaching, or research like you mentioned.

Also note that Psychology has a heavy statistics component to it. That may fit in well already with your research interests, but it was something that surprised me at the time so I wanted to mention it.

So to summarize your questions about what you should major and minor in: you'll need a Psych major (and then probably get your Master's) if you want to truly work in the Psych field. Minoring in it was fun for me - I did it as a personal interest and to learn more about the people I'd be writing about and for in Journalism - but a Psych minor won't get you super far practically.

For your editing/publishing goals, I'd look into Journalism over English. Double majoring would be great if you can swing it - it covers all your bases, and you're paying the same amount for the same amount of required credits anyway. Might as well make those credits make sense and all count toward something. It takes planning, but you can do it!

And then, along the way, you might discover you do or don't like something that you thought you would, and you can adjust from there. You can always change your major/minors along the way.

Hope this helps!


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Nathan’s Answer

Take some time to look at the curriculums for both the Psychology major and the English major - colleges usually post these online for public use, or a quick email to your future college should be all that's required.

For the first two years or so, many of the courses you take could potentially work towards completion of both degrees. What you'll find is that the higher level courses will begin to diverge and you'll find yourself having to complete high-level coursework for both English and Psychology. Please note that this is achieved all the time! Students often major in two or even three different areas while an undergraduate. Know that a double major will take persistence and a lot of study time.

Career-wise, it sounds as if you may be looking at careers involving writing. You have every right to officially declare as a different major and/or switch paths while you are in college.

The key is to always have a goal in mind and to never stop your learning. I hope this helps! Best wishes to you.

Nathan recommends the following next steps:

Go to your school's website, research degree requirements for each
Find courses which could fulfill requirements for both degree paths
Optional: Understand that you will have plenty of time to make adjustments once you're in school

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Elizabeth’s Answer

Hi Ray!

My two cents is that you can always explore whether you can make English your second major, begin coursework, and if you can't complete _all_ the requirements, you may still have satisfied your minor requirements by graduation. I was an English major and no minor, and I found the communication, writing, problem-solving, and networking skills in my major really beneficial to me once I graduated.

You may also just be exposed to different programs and different advisors by being a part of the English major discipline, so it's definitely worth talking to your undergraduate advisor who can help you plan for your time at school. These things are easily shifted too, as long as you fully understand your requirements for each major/minor. Your advisor should help you figure out what might be the best route. You might also consider starting off as an English minor and ramping up if you find time to.

Depending on your university, you may even discover your Engish program has different disciplines/focus areas like 'specializations'. At my alma mater, UMass Amherst, we had specializations for digital writing, technical writing, environmental writing, etc so you might ask to see what your university offers. These specializations usually have their own requirements, so that's something you'd want to consider when deciding how to build your semesters of work and classes.

Again, I strongly recommend checking in with your advisor at least once a year, if not every semester! I worked in the English undergraduate advising office while I was an undergrad and I stumbled into my technical writing specialization that way. I never would have known it existed otherwise, and now I have a fulfilling career in technical writing.

Best of luck!

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Laura’s Answer

I majored in 2 degrees, one of which was English Literature. From a practical standpoint, I don't 'use' it. I write a lot and I need to speak articulately but neither of these skills were learned from literature, specifically, but rather on the job. Since you are considering majoring in psychology and editing as well, I personally don't see the need for an additional English major. It will certainly require more time and energy from you to pursue and resultant opportunity costs from pursuing an additional major (what other skills or hobbies would you need to give up in exchange?). I'd recommend a cost benefit analysis of taking it on, based off data you accrue through your career counselor, others in the English major, the courses required, your interest in those courses, and where you see yourself professionally. Best of luck!

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Georgina’s Answer

It sounds like you haven't begun school yet so I'm going to assume that you haven't had a chance to speak with people in college. I would suggest that when you get there you can begin working with the academic advisors as well as the career services staff. They can let you know what type of placement people with your background from that school have managed to get and that will give you the best indicator of what options you will have with or without a double major. As you get to school, seek out upperclassmen in both departments for their advice as they will know what the relative workload will be. Most majors require substantial amount of research, editing and writing so lacking an English degree doesn't mean you will fall short in that department. Colleges don't hold you to the major you committed with so you may find that English is really your first love!

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Justin’s Answer

I would challenge you to think about what harm there could be in double majoring? What is the added workload, and what causes your hesitancy to take this on?

Presumably, investing in this would have payoffs if it is something you love.

With that said, once your foot is in the door - your major or minor will have little effect on the rest of your life. The important thing to do is work hard to build relationships and get your foot in the right doors in the industry. How can you position yourself for the right internships? What relationships can you make to gain introductions into some of these companies?

Focusing on these items and hard work will point you in the right direction.

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Schuyler’s Answer

I was in a similar situation when I was declaring my major: I wasn't sure if I should double with English or minor in it. I ended up minoring in English so I could devote enough time to my major and to my minor. I think if I had done a double major, I would have been too caught up in deadlines to enjoy the classes themselves. I am also a firm believer that what you study, whether it be your major or not, gives you very marketable skills in a professional setting. I have my minor listed on my resume and I'm sure to highlight my strong written communication skills, because of my English minor, in cover letters. If you can swing it, do a double major! But there is nothing wrong with majoring in Psych and minoring in English. Do what feels right, not what you think employers look for. Hope this helps!

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Scott’s Answer

I would never tell someone to shy away from an English or other liberal arts degree. Breadth of knowledge is useful in so many fields, whether it's writing, editing, or so many other careers.
I received a degree in English from the University of Minnesota, and was frankly not at all sure where it would take me. I worked with teens for 4 years after college and while my degree wasn't so relevant to the work, the ability to write well is always useful no matter what you do. After that I studied to get into IT programming work and eventually moved toward business analyst work as well as leadership roles. I've been asked many times to review others' writing and even though my (very practical) father wondered aloud why I didn't choose business in college, I don't regret English in the least.
An acquaintance I met in college suggested that as much as college teaches, it is also about growth and learning how to learn. The difference between an 18 year old and a 22 year old can be pretty significant. Don't be afraid to explore and not be "locked in" too early--you may find your passion lies in an unexpected place, and that's really OK. That journey may be a wonderful part of "arriving at your destination."
Good luck!

Scott recommends the following next steps:

Research what people with degrees you're interested ultimately do in their careers.
Do informational interviews and learn about how a person's specific education has aided or enhanced their career.
Explore internship opportunities.

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Ezra Noel’s Answer

I would say if you think you can handle it then go for it. I have a lots of friends that did double major. I personally can't handle that so I only took one major in my college years. Most of them graduated with high honors so I think if you think you can do it and handle the pressure then go for it. High risk brings high reward. Employers are always looking for those who has the capability to do good in their job. When they see your profile that would definitely catch their eye. It will also help you with your composition and broaden more your vocabulary. But most importantly do what you love cause that will always lead you to happiness and success.

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Grace’s Answer

Whether you minor or double major in English, I think the most important part of landing a job in the editing and publishing field is to have solid internship and/or work experience throughout college. I do not think a recruiter will care as much about your minor vs. your major as they will about relevant experience and a demonstrated interest in the field. This can be internships at publishing houses, at magazines, at communications or PR firms... there are a lot of relevant opportunities to build a resume by the time you are getting ready to graduate and seek a full-time role. You can also explore opportunities at your college - at a college newspaper or magazine, etc. Anything that shows the hiring leader that you have demonstrated an interest in this field!

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Georgina’s Answer

It sounds like you haven't begun school yet so I'm going to assume that you haven't had a chance to speak with people in college. I would suggest that when you get there you can begin working with the academic advisors as well as the career services staff. They can let you know what type of placement people with your background from that school have managed to get and that will give you the best indicator of what options you will have with or without a double major. As you get to school, seek out upperclassmen in both departments for their advice as they will know what the relative workload will be. Most majors require substantial amount of research, editing and writing so lacking an English degree doesn't mean you will fall short in that department. Colleges don't hold you to the major you committed with so you may find that English is really your first love!

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