When you head off to college, many people will ask, "What are you majoring in?" A major is the main focus of your college education, and many students spend a lot of time trying to figure out which one would be best for them. However, many students want to expand their educational horizons and don't want to be limited to just one subject area. That's where a minor comes in handy.
While a college major focuses on one specific discipline, a minor allows you to explore other academic areas that interest you. In addition to the skills and knowledge gained from your major field, this provides an opportunity for greater exposure to diverse fields of study, which can help broaden your career opportunities.
Here is a closer look at how you can use a college minor to your advantage and the best way to choose one to fit your career goals and academic interests.
What is an Academic Minor?
An academic minor is a group of classes you take in addition to your degree major that revolves around a particular subject. A minor typically includes between 18 and 30 credit hours. It cannot stand on its own but must be paired with a major or degree program.
Benefits of an Academic Minor
A minor can help round out your education by giving you a chance to learn things that you won't find in your major. A college minor can help you be more competitive in the job market or reach your career goals quickly. In some industries, it can prevent the need to go to graduate school right after earning a bachelor's degree to fill in some missing knowledge or skills. There are several ways that a minor can help both with your professional goals and your academics. Here are four you should consider:
Gain a Competitive Edge
When you finish your bachelor's degree and enter the job market, you will find it is very competitive. Many people vie for the same openings, especially for entry-level positions. This competition means you need to find a way to make your resume stand out, so you are more appealing to potential employers. An academic minor could provide that competitive edge.
First, adding an academic minor shows that you are willing to work hard. A minor is above and beyond your degree requirements. It shows your work ethic and makes you more appealing to potential employers who want to hire someone willing to put in the effort.
Second, academic minors can help you fill a role within an organization that is more specialized. For example, if you major in business and minor in technology, you might increase the chance of landing a job in an IT department of a finance company rather than a traditional business role.
Finally, academic minors give you something additional to put on a resume. When you are a new graduate, filling your resume can be challenging, and your minor helps.
Explore Interests Outside Your Major
An academic major heavily focuses on one area. For example, if you major in secondary education, you will focus most of your study on one subject area, like math or history and academic theory. Adding a minor in another academic subject area allows you to explore areas of interest outside of that one subject area.
There are many things to consider when exploring interests outside of your major. To complement your major field, you can choose a minor in something practical, like communication or technology. You can consider choosing one that will set the right foundation for graduate school. You can also choose a minor in an area of personal interest to you rather than one in line with your career goals. A more well-rounded or diversified education would demonstrate that you're a multifaceted person to potential employers.
Add More Skills to Your Repertoire
Because your bachelor's degree focuses on one particular area, you may graduate lacking some skills that potential employers prefer. A minor can help future-proof your skillset, as well, because you don't know what your future career will look like. As the job market shifts, you will have the skills to adapt to it.
What skills should you look to add with your minor? Skills like leadership, communication, and critical thinking are all highly valued by potential employers. A minor that adds some of these can help you round out your skillset as you look ahead to your future career. Similarly, tech skills can make you stand out in the modern workforce.
Specialize Your Career
While some people choose a minor to diversify, others will choose one to help them specialize. Some majors are fairly broad in scope. For instance, a business major is quite broad and is often something students choose to set the stage for graduate school. With a minor, you can specialize your focus on one aspect of your career field when you take one of these more general majors.
How to Choose a Minor
Choosing a minor does not have to be as difficult as choosing a major, but you should spend some time focusing on this choice.First, consider your career goals. Is your end desire to teach in a classroom? Then consider a minor in special education or child development. Do you picture yourself in business? Then a minor in marketing, finance, or leadership might be good. Are you unsure what your future career goals are? Then consider a minor that would open the door to additional employment possibilities outside of your major. Take some time to talk to people who work in your career field to see what skills would be valuable to a potential employer in the future and look for a minor that correlates.
Next, consider skills that may be lacking in your major field. Can you use a minor to add those skills to your education? The skills you may need can help direct your choice.
After narrowing down the field, consider the coursework in the minor. Is it going to add labs you don't have time for, or can you easily add these studies to your existing workload?
Finally, consider your interests. Adding a minor means adding extra work, and you should enjoy that extra work. Choose a minor in an area of interest to you so that you will enjoy the additional study time.
Here are the minors JWU Online offers:
- Beverage Service Management
- Criminal Justice
- General Business (Liberal Studies students only)
- Human Resources Management
- Leadership Studies
- Sommelier Management
Does My Minor Have to Relate to My Major?
Many students assume that their minor needs to be connected to their bachelor's degree. While it is common for this to happen, it is not a requirement. You can minor in anything that you would enjoy studying or help you reach your career goals. If you feel that you want to round out your education with a focus outside of your major field, a minor gives you the opportunity.
However, some minors have courses with prerequisites, so make sure that you are choosing a minor that fits your education where it is. If your major does not fulfill those prerequisites, you may want to look elsewhere for your minor.
If you are interested in rounding out your education with a strong minor, and want the flexibility to study online, consider JWU. Our minors are an excellent complement to our degree programs to help you round out your education. If you’re interested in learning more about declaring a minor, check out the minors JWU offers along with all our degree programs. For more information, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].