Thursday, September 11, 2008

Can a Minor Help Your Major in College?

Some colleges and universities offer and promote minors to college students as a way to round out their college education and gain more marketable job skills. College students on campuses without minors might pick up double majors or in rare cases, a triple major.

College minors offer a secondary area of study and could be a real asset to a college graduate if the minor enhances or broadens their knowledge in a complementary field. In an article for the NY Times, Joe Cuseo, author of “Thriving in College and Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development," says “a minor is a hidden weapon. It can be a good marketing tool, or it can be a way to explore a second interest and still graduate in a reasonable time.”

Some of the other advantages of a picking a minor in college include:
- extra preparation at no additional cost
- less work than a double major

After working in four different colleges helping graduates and employers discover each other, so to speak, I am convinced that the job skills that employers want can be developed without a minor or a double major.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers survey employers every year to see what they look for in a new college grad.

Here is what the employers said in 2007.

(5-point-scale where 1=not important; 2=not very
important; 3=somewhat important; 4=very important;
and 5=extremely important)

Communication skills 4.6
Strong work ethic 4.6
Teamwork skills 4.5
Initiative 4.4
Interpersonal skills 4.4
Problem-solving skills 4.4
Analytical skills 4.3
Flexibility/adaptability 4.2
Computer skills 4.1
Technical skills 4.1
Detail-oriented 4.0
Organizational skills 4.0

How do college students really build these skills and competencies employers want on campus? By being an active college student who not only studies, but gets involved.

So, as you think about your college experience and whether or not to add a minor, think about how you can develop these job skills from:
- leadership roles in campus clubs and organizations
- volunteer work or community service
- college internship programs


Kristen said...

Thanks for your support of the UMKC Career Services Blog! I am a double major. I agree with you on this. A major looks nice on paper, but experiences like internships and volunteer work show good character, which is very important. Very helpful. I will have to check this blog more often!

Marcia Robinson said...


Internships, volunteer experiences or general campus involvement really give students the ability to compete for great careers beyond graduation.

Really appreciate you checking in.
I will list your college blog as a resource on our website.