Double duty in school

AMBITION Students opt for two majors despite extra workload.

Majors. Some students just can’t pick one.

Sophomore Charlee Mathieu is double majoring in air traffic control and unmanned aerial systems.

She started out as a triple major with commercial aviation, but she has since let that go — not because she was overwhelmed by the workload, but because she simply wasn’t as excited about her third major as she was her other two.

“Even though the workload for a triple major is excessive, it is still attainable if you are truly passionate about all three topics,” Mathieu said.

In addition to both her majors,  Mathieu works three jobs. Her organizational and time management skills are impressive, but according to her, that is not the main secret behind successfully double majoring.

“It certainly helps if you have organizational skills,” Mathieu said. “but it really comes down to how passionate you are about what you do.”

However, not everyone who plans to double major always graduates with a double major.

For example, Brandon Wynn, a fifth year senior graduating this December, is an unmanned aerial systems major. But for four years, he also was majoring in commercial aviation.

“Originally I wanted to do commercial aviation, then they came out with the UAS major, and I knew I wanted to work with airplanes, so I took that major just to try it,” Wynn said. “I decided I liked it, and that I wanted to it, so the commercial aviation requirements became obsolete.”

Wynn’s decision to double major was born out of a true passion for learning and his area of expertise. He also has been working two to three jobs for the past four years.

“It’s pretty manageable because they are part time jobs. It can get pretty hectic at times, but my employers are usually pretty understanding,” he said.

According to Wynn, double majoring provides more options for employment after college. But depending on which two majors an individual chooses, it might not necessarily influence whether or not you get a specific job.

However as someone who did double major for several years, he would still recommend the experience.

“If you have two separate interests and you pursue them both, it might make you happier in the long run,” Wynn said. “Speaking as someone who has done this for four years now, in four years you will not be the same person you were in high school.”

Going for it

Students might think that double majoring sounds daunting and might not be up for all the extra work, but according to academic adviser Jason Lawrence, it really isn’t as bad as it sounds.

“Depending on the program, it is not necessarily going to add to your workload,” he said. “The main consideration is how much longer it will take you to graduate.”

According to Lawrence, if you know what you want early and you plan it well, a double major could be accomplished in four years with not too much more effort than a single major.

“In most cases you are picking up a second major because it is something that will help you in your future career,” Lawrence said when asked about the most common reasons students choose to double major.

Possible disadvantages revolve around what majors one decides to take and when they decide to take them. Also, if you have an extremely specific timetable for when you want to graduate, but you end up deciding later in your college experience that you want a second major, than problems could arise.

One of the most common double majors is pursuing two majors taken in the same college. For example, majors in English and music departments are both in the College of Arts and Sciences, according to Lawrence.

However, for students considering a double major, one extremely important factor critical to success is frequently checking in with an adviser because some students might not be aware exactly what the requirements are or if they overlap, according to Lawrence.

“You might end up taking some courses that you don’t need due to overlapping requirements,” Lawrence said. “Or you might just assume that they overlap and then not have a course necessary to graduate. We usually try to catch it before senior year, but there have been a few cases where that has become a problem.”

In the end, Lawrence would recommend double majoring to students who are considering it.

“Extra learning is never a bad thing in my opinion,” he said.

Michael Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at