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UI sees an increase in double majors

BY KATHLEEN SERINO | MARCH 12, 2009 7:27 AM

UI junior and English major Cathryn Spinler had dreams of breaking into the publishing industry.

But with the current economy, jobs and internships in the field are hard to come by. So the 21-year-old added a journalism major and psychology minor as fallbacks. She’s part of what some students say is a trend of adding extra degrees to better prepare for the future.

“I would hate to find a job that didn’t involve my major in some way because I love my majors,” she said. “I want to be able to do something with them for the rest of my life.”

According to statistics from the Office of the Registrar, undergraduate enrollment in a second major has increased in the Tippie College of Business and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
The number of undergraduates who added a second major in business has nearly doubled from 362 in fall 2007 to 718 in fall 2008.

And the number of students who added a second major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences increased from 2,913 in fall 2007 to 3,707 in fall 2008.

Because students change their minds frequently, there was no information available about students adding minors, registrar officials said.

But Pat Folsom, the director of the Academic Advising Center, said she wouldn’t say fallback majors are a new trend. As advisers to around 20,000 undergraduates, officials in the center want students to get the most out of their education, she said.

“We talk right from the beginning about parallel planning,” Folsom said, noting that there’s always a “holistic” review of a student’s academic path.

UI junior Carrie Simon said she added a human-relations minor just a few days ago to her communications-studies major and international-relations minor.

Simon, 20, said she wanted to add another concentration because she worries she won’t get the job she wants if she doesn’t have a broad base.

She doesn’t want to enter the working world anytime soon, given the state of the economy. She’s looking into law school as well.

UI junior Eric Mahoney is a business major who applied for an entrepreneurial management certificate last spring.

The 21-year-old, who said he hopes to eventually own a small business, noted he learned in class it’s beneficial to be more open — especially during the recession.

It’s good to understand how to prepare you and your business in an economy like this, he said, tacking on the certificate was a good move on his part.

“The more knowledge the better,” he said.

Registrar Larry Lockwood agreed the job market is fluctuating and a combination of skills — such as volunteer service, student leadership, and work outside of classroom training — make any graduate “more sellable.”

“Students are being more diversified with their approach to school,” Lockwood said, adding it’s smart to supplement extra majors and minors to improve skills.

“The more technical skills you have, the better off you are too,” he said.

As for Spinler, she said she’s willing to take any job she’s offered after graduation.

For now, though, she’s biding her time working late-night at Burge Dining Hall and frequently looking for any and all work in publishing companies.


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