Each year I get the opportunity to interview between forty and fifty Kemper Scholars Program finalists on campuses around the country as part of the process of selecting the twenty students who will comprise the next class of Kemper Scholars.

Speaking for about an hour with this diverse group of high achieving young leaders, all of them near the end of their first year, gives me insights into what the current generation of college students is thinking.

This year when I asked the finalists what they hoped to study in college, nearly half of them listed not only two majors but two or three minors. Knowing I would not see many of these young people again, I took the opportunity to try to talk them out of this approach to their college career.

Given this sample, I feel sure there are other students out there with the same kind of plan. So I want to use this platform to try to talk you out of it also.

First, no one (except perhaps the faculty in that department) really cares what, if anything, you have an academic minor in. Graduate schools look at your major, but many students go on to graduate work in fields they did not major in during their undergraduate careers. Potential employers probably will look at your major; but they do not care whether you have a minor and certainly not whether you have two or three.

In trying to convince potential employers that they should hire you, your task is to show in your resume and especially your cover letter that you have the academic training and experiences that prepared you to do the job for which you are applying. You need to do that whether or not you list a major or minor in your resume. Indeed it makes good sense to take courses outside your field that will help you make the case that you are fit for various kinds of jobs, but you do not need a minor to do that.

Second, multiplying majors and minors can severely limit your ability to diversify your education. Every major and minor has required courses. As you multiply your requirements you limit your ability to make choices beyond them. A course like “Marketing through Social Media” – something very useful in today’s professional environment – might show up as an elective on the course schedule. But you could have no space to take it because you have to meet requirements for your two majors and three minors.

Your college years are a chance to broaden yourself. Don’t put unnecessary limits on your ability to do so.


Ryan LaHurd