“You have a double major AND a double minor? I can’t believe you can do that!”
This statement is one I hear often, accompanied by weird stares, surprised glances, and an occasional impressed head nod. I always quickly reply that I did not enter college like this, it has been a strategic process to get to where I am currently at academically. I also reassure them that yes, I will graduate in four years, and no, I am not crazy!
October is National Humanities Month, therefore it is essential to note that the humanities offer a variety of educational paths and future options, creating a broad understanding of how the world works and what skills you will need to navigate the world. As a double major in English and political science with a double minor in Spanish and history, I value a humanities education for a variety of reasons—the flexibility, unique classes, and life-changing opportunities.
As most people, I did not enter college with four areas of concentration. How does someone even know at 18 years old what four areas of expertise work for their future goals? It’s hard to determine one, let alone four! I am only twenty years old and I still debate whether my specific soup is my right flavor—and that’s ok! Nonetheless, there are tips and tricks I picked up along the way that helped me narrow down what I deem essential for my future, as well as what my degree can do for me.
First, be prepared to soul search and think! Be so very prepared to question everything. Picking up a major, a minor, or a concentration is a very big decision. As I said before, I entered college with only one major: English. I had to take political science courses to determine if it was the other major I wanted to pair with English. Then I had to take a couple Spanish courses to see if a minor was applicable. And just this semester, I picked up my final minor, history. I spent a lot of time considering what I appreciated about these fields of study, and if doing multiple majors and minors was something I really thought I could handle.
A humanities education on its own proves to future employers that someone is educated in how the world works, how we communicate with each other, and what is needed of future leaders. That being said, creating the academic track that fits well with your motives and future goals requires you to consider what motivates you and where you see yourself in the future. A degree in the humanities opens up the door, but what is done with that opportunity is completely up to you—that’s why it’s ok to question if your major is right for you, how you want to complete your minor, if you want to study abroad, etc. Let your mind run free and earn that degree!
Second, be diligent about utilizing the resources given to you! The University of Illinois and the College of LAS are large, but that means there is no shortage of resources and advisors willing to assist you in any way possible. Like many people, I am pretty indecisive; therefore, I had plenty of meetings with mentors, advisors, professors, TAs, and even friends before I determined my academic plans. It is often enticing to add a variety of majors and minors to your degree, so carefully considering your options with the help of others who know you well and have your best interest in mind is key.
It is also important to know the physical resources available for students and websites in the Illinois community. These tools have been my guiding light these past years, allowing me organized ways to determine what courses work for my requirements (single courses that knock out multiple requirements are a student’s best friend!) and how I can further seize all opportunities in these four years. By studying my courses ahead of time, I was able to determine that I could study abroad and when I could finish certain requirements—this planning allowed me to finish my Spanish minor on my trip to Costa Rica!
The most important tip, though, is understanding that navigating all the different options in the humanities at Illinois is a rewarding process, even if it requires time and dedication. The time and dedication is more than worth it when considering everything a humanities degree can offer you and your future!
We are in college to have a better understanding of the world and our role in it, how we plan to change lives one day. I know that with my humanities concentrations I am equipped with the right tools to shape the world one day, one major (or two) at a time!