The Tuesday Q&A: Does Double-Majoring Improve My Chances?

MBA FAQ, MBA frequently asked questions, bschool questions, mba questionsQuestion:

I’m 20 and know that I want to get an MBA down the road. Will it help my chances to get into a good MBA program if I double-major now, while I’m in college?

Answer:

We get asked the question often, “Should I double major?  What are the pros and cons?”  Let’s tackle it together, shall we?

The answer is that YES, given the choice between two candidates (one who has double majored and one who has not) the double major may have a slight edge to an adcom.  Why?  Well that’s simple, it appears to an adcom on a resume as “twice as much work.”  From a professional standpoint, a double major is also a neat way to explore a topic that you are interested in much more fully.  So in a business school application, for example, the client who has majored in both Economics and PoliSci will be able to make a KILLER argument as to why they wanna get that job at the World Bank.  The guy who majors in both business and music will have a GREAT argument for the fact that, “he has been passionate about the music business since he was 18.” Professionally, it is a no-brainer.

Personally, it is a great chance to mix some professional interest with some personal (avocation vs. vocation) interests. You might be an Econ major, which the adcom will prefer…but you also learned a TON about music, thanks to your music double major.  Nice!  You can of course mix in a personal interest (music, religion, etc.) with a more business-minded one.  No harm done.  In fact, schools will appreciate the concerted effort you’ve made to pursue MORE than just your vocation.

So what are the cons? Well, there are few.  One, though,  is that you may be creating a TON of extra work for yourself in college.  In my instance, I now work with one of my closest friends from college, Raj.  Had I double majored, I might not have had the time to devote to meet Raj, to become friends with him, etc.  Or to sing in our beloved a cappella group… You see, double majors DO amount to more work. So…do you want to “focus” on work in college?  Or would you rather
major in something (one thing) that you will get credit for in the job market, get good grades…and mix in some more extra-curricular work as well?   Seems like a win-win to me.

Just remember, double majoring is a CHOICE.  Perhaps you would rather mix in a number of different types of classes to learn more before taking that big step.  Why tie yourself down with the two subjects you THINK you are passionate about?  Perhaps you’d rather explore more subjects in LESS depth, while you are still able to do it. Believe me, once you graduate from college, as you enter your 30’s etc, there are fewer and fewer chances to explore…

— Jon Frank

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