Love or Logic: Double Majoring Allows for Both

Scales displaying data on the left side, and a pile of books and a pair of glasses on the other. Illustration by Jenica Cruz.

Writing is creativity. It has been my primary outlet for artistic expression since I was able to read. I find a certain satisfaction in the subjective constancy of words, the ability to read something again and again without extracting a single, objective idea each time. With words, there is always more to consider. It is with this in mind that I choose to focus my studies within the English Department. Before committing to a specific college, I considered majoring in journalism or English. After choosing Lewis & Clark, where a journalism major is nonexistent, the English department became the sole candidate. The rigorous and intimate classes, impassioned professors and department’s devotion to radically improving the writing of any English major were enough to convince me that I had made the right choice in selecting my primary area of study.

Yet here I am as a double major in English and math/computer science, and I find myself wondering what sorts of forces attracted me to this decision. Hopefully, I have made my passion for the written word obvious. As a child especially, reading allowed me to escape from the trifling and the mundane. Literature exposes me to someone else’s perception of the world and forces me to consider how my own experiences have shaped the way I interact with external reality.

But shortly after choosing my major in the spring of my freshman year, I was plagued by doubt. What employment realities would I face after graduation? My writing skills may be honed and polished, but what other professional fields would be available to a person of my educational background besides teaching or journalism? This is not to suggest that I ever faltered in my assurance that I was meant to study the English language, but these sorts of thoughts were enough to make me consider the possibility of double majoring. In particular, I wanted to focus the other half of my intellect on a more quantitative, practical subject that would guarantee more options in the workplace.

This sort of logic is how I came to declare an additional major last semester. After considering the credits that I had earned so far, the mathematics/computer science hybrid major became an obvious choice. Computer proficiency is a highly marketable skill that can supplement nearly any other career path. It also opens up possibilities for contract employment, which is usually granted on a job-by-job basis. Although this specific work may not offer a consistent salary, it can be beneficial for people who are not entirely sure of what direction they will go after graduation. Writing code for a few years is a great way to earn a practical income without catapulting yourself into a field you will later detest.

Even with this additional academic focus, I have found that not all of my anxieties have been erased. But this is a characteristic of college life that can never be fully extinguished. Students will always be torn between enjoying their time at school as best they can and the reality that they must learn certain artistic, scientific or practical skills, depending on one’s field of study, that will make them valuable candidates for employers.

I am not writing this to declare that every student should pursue two majors. Indeed, there are multiple drawbacks and disadvantages in going this route. I cannot take any classes outside of my two academic areas for the rest of my time here, if I still wish to graduate a semester early. But it is still important to recognize some of the benefits that come with accepting such an arduous workload: a slight decrease in anxiety, heightened sense of academic purpose and, most importantly, confidence going into the professional world after graduation.

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