Yanez: How to choose a minor without wasting gen ed credits

(Creative commons)

Previously, I called for the University of Oregon to cut general education requirements. Of course, it’s not so simple; we are legally required to have these general education credits in order for the university to remain accredited. This requirement may encourage some students to take the classes that allow them to earn an ‘A’ easier than others, but this doesn’t need to be the case. Here’s how you can take advantage of the university’s system.

Why a Minor Might Be Useful

There are several reasons why one would want to minor in another subject. A great reason to take on a minor is to expand a skill set or specialize within an area of your major. An example of this would be an accounting or finance major minoring in economics. Another example would be a journalism major minoring in political science; if they hope to write about political events after graduation. Perhaps you have skills in a second language and would love to highlight such a skill – a minor is great for that. Also, a minor can give you a competitive edge against your classmates who think that a company would rather value a higher GPA with fewer skills.

For some who are torn between a subject they love and a subject they understand well, like music and finance, you could major in finance and minor in music. While they seem totally unrelated, every corporation in the music industry needs financial analysts. We don’t need to sacrifice our desires in the name of pragmatism. The university has plenty of minors to choose from. See if there’s anything that interests you enough to possibly take a minor in it.

Little to No Extra Work

To earn a bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon, you must meet the general education group requirements. Additionally, there’s a multicultural requirement that requires two classes; on top of this, you must also earn 62 upper-division credits (including major classes). Many minors require 24 credits, which allows room for people to take a secondary minor without too much extra work. There is a catch: For each group, you must take two courses in one subject and at least one course in another subject. In all, you may not have more than three courses in one subject per group.

One could easily take advantage of the generous double counting with a minor in political science. Political science counts as social science credits and has no prerequisites. Plus, you can take political science courses that count towards multicultural requirements. In a nutshell, one could take three upper-division political science classes and have 12 credits of their social science group satisfied and the multicultural group satisfied. This leaves you with three courses for the minor – one upper-division and two lower-division. Since there is a minimum credit requirement outside of general education, there is no extra work for a minor in political science unless you change your major. To find which classes in what subjects may count towards multiple general education requirements, there is a searchable page full of group-satisfying courses.

How to Effectively Choose a Minor

It’s probably going to be easier for students to choose a minor if they’re not undecided about their major. Even those of us who have selected a major or two might have a hard time deciding what to minor in. Simply put, you should ask yourself, “What do I want to do after graduation?” I understand that this sounds daunting, especially if you’re a freshman. But even if you have several career paths you can choose from based on your major, a minor can help you with whichever of these paths interest you. If you’re undecided in your major, perhaps you would benefit from starting with minors and eventually choose one to major in.

Perhaps it would be helpful to look at job postings for such career paths. Believe it or not, you could pick a minor based around qualifications that may show up on the job posting and are not taught within your major department. A classic example of this would be someone majoring in business administration with a concentration in finance–aka – a major in finance–that wants to work as an analyst at a company. These days, it takes an understanding of databases and other programming languages to land a job at companies like Amazon or Microsoft. This is due to the nature of being tech companies, but that doesn’t need to be a barrier for you. You can minor in computer information technology (CIT), which specifically entails programming and databases.

Start Early as Possible

Those of you who will benefit the most from reading (and applying) this will be freshmen and sophomores that aren’t undecided. The sooner you check out your options, the sooner you can take advantage of the double counting credits that took me way too long to figure out myself. Had I known what major and minor I wanted from the start, I would have saved a lot of time, effort and money from the university’s generosity. If you plan well enough, you might even be able to get away with graduating in less time.

Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!