Chandra

Sometimes one major isn't enough.

Maybe you have to many passions to be condensed, maybe your college doesn’t offer the exact degree you want or maybe your parent's vision for your future doesn’t match what you want to do. There are many different reasons that people decide to tack on the extra work in the hopes of graduating successfully and moving onto a good job that they’ll love. 

I chose to major in cinema and convergent journalism with minors in theater and entrepreneurship. My university didn’t offer the specific degree I wanted in film marketing and public relations so I chose to do the “choose your own adventure” degree to ensure that I was well-rounded enough when I went out into the world. 

However, trying to complete two majors and two minors is a lot of work. According to USA Today, only 53% of college students graduate in six years. Now imagine trying to do three times that in four.

You may ask, “what does a double major, double minor mean?” It means that you will have more abilities and skills later on. But it also means that you will have a full schedule, extra stress and many late, late nights. 

I know all too well how many Red Bulls I need to buy when I’m pulling an all-nighter. So I’m here to pass on some tips and tricks and my experience with balancing a heavy schedule, social life, and mental stability.

  1. Schedule

You must have a plan in advance for what classes you will take and when you will take them. There is generally a guide online that tells you what semesters courses are typically offered by semester and that will provide a solid start. From there, talk to the professors actually teaching those classes and explain your situation, many will understand and offer advice on prereq courses if there will be any changes, something you can work ahead on and when you should take their classes.

2. Overlap

Look at your degree forms and see what classes overlap within your majors, minors and gen eds. Sometimes there could be a few options available that could save you from taking extra courses. 

For example my cinema major and theater minor share a lot of similar courses and my entrepreneurship minor doubles with a few of my gen eds. By knowing this in advance, I won’t have to take any extra courses that could hold me back from graduating and focus completely on the ones that matter.

3. Work ahead in class

When balancing eight or more college courses at a time, your daily deadlines can containtwice as much work as everyone else's. At the start of the semester, look at the syllabus and see what projects will take more time and plan some ways that you can work ahead. Add the dates and details to your planner if you have one. Online classes are especially easy to work ahead in so set a weekend where you are able to work on the upcoming weeks in advance on things like quizzes and discussion posts. This allows you extra wiggle room on other classes and any projects that could require more attention.

It is much easier to work ahead at the beginning of the semester than it is at the end because near the end professor will generally double their workloads.

4. Get a planner

Personally, I hate planners. I can never keep them updated no matter how hard I try and they always come out looking like a total mess. However, many other students absolutely love them and find them to be a great way to keep them on track. Planners are a great way to write down not just assignments for class but little notes about all of the other things you need to do. 

5. Get a tutor

Look at your on-campus resources to see what kind of help is available. Tutors can be incredibly beneficial to clear up topics that may have been confusing during class. There are often tutors available in math, science, English and foreign languages but also look for those available in your majors classes. If you cannot find help directly from your university ask the professor. Often they are more than willing to help you understand topics or they can suggest a student that has done well in the past who may be willing to tutor you.

6. Get an on-campus job

College kids are broke as it is and college kids taking double the classes are even more in debt, so you’ll most likely need a job while in school. You will need to find a balance that works for you between work and school. Although they don’t always pay the best, on-campus jobs are generally more accepting to work around your busy schedule while providing you with enough hours that you can buy your basic needs. 

7. Social Life who?

You must know that you’re not going to have as much time outside of class. However, that is where working ahead can help immensely to give you some free time. College is about having fun and trying new things and you shouldn’t let your schedule deter you from that. However, that being said be cautious of what you do outside of class because if you get in trouble all of your hard work will be for nothing.

8. Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, not only from professors but also from mental health professionals. You will have double the stress of a normal college student and who can be taxing and wear you down. Finding a professional that can talk to you through that stress will ensure your long-term stability. It is not a bad thing to receive this type of help nor is it something to be ashamed of. Often colleges offer some type of counseling services for free. Beyond that, look into your community and see what services are available.

9. Summer classes are your best friend

Depending on the degrees you’re seeking there maybe be classes available in the summer that can help you knock a few out. There’s almost always gen eds available that you can take. If not, look into colleges closer to home or online for credits you can transfer in. 

Talk to the financial aid center to see what type of funding is available to help you pay for these courses. Generally, if you are eligible and take enough courses, you may be able to access a portion of your Pell Grant to help cover some costs. 

10. Taking that extra semester - or year

I know I know that goes against the title, right? Well, sometimes things don't always go to plan and that's okay. An extra semester or even an extra year won't kill you. Sure, it's disappointing but keep in mind how much you have accomplished in this time.

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