Double the work, double the pain, what’s the gain?

Student, Jillie Herrold, studying in Leatherby Libraries. Photo by Madison Taber.

Senior screenwriting and history double-major Jake Naturman decided sophomore year that he wanted to graduate a year early.

In order to achieve this, he took two required pre-thesis classes for history, as well as intensive screenwriting classes and other projects he was already working on outside of class. Naturman carried 18 credits last spring.

“[That semester] I would come home from class every single day, plop down on my bed, and scream into my pillow before dragging myself up and getting to work on whatever I needed to do,” Naturman said.

Naturman is among the 7.6 percent of undergraduate students at Chapman currently pursuing double majors, according to the Assistant Director of Chapman’s Institutional Research Office, Robert Pankey.

Pankey described this percentage as “pretty steady,” inching up less than one percent in four years.

Many students believe that double majoring will give them a leg up in the job search after they graduate and enter the workforce. But is the extra work worth it?

Naturman double-majored to be better prepared to meet his objectives –  writing historically accurate films.

“Being a historian has made my writing process even better, especially with regards to research,” Naturman said. “[That] gives me a slight edge over people who might not have that experience.”

Even with two majors, Naturman has completed a summer screenwriting internship at Impact Pictures and is on track to graduate a year early, this spring.

It turns out that double majoring may, in fact, yield financial benefits.

Christos A. Makridis, a Ph.D. Candidate in Labor and Public Economics at Stanford University, conducted his own analysis that assessed more than two million full-time workers between the ages of 20 and 65. His research showed that those who double-majored in various subject combinations earned between 3.4 and 9.5 percent more than those with one major depending on their field of study.

Research that was conducted prior to Makridis’ did not show results as clear as Makridis’ and was constructed from smaller groups of individuals.

Alex Neff, a senior communications and psychology double major, believes she had the upper hand against other applicants in a past job interview because of her double-major.

“They were communication majors while I was that plus psychology,” Neff said. “My now new boss was very impressed and thought my majors were applicable in the business world.”

Neff hopes her double major will help her in the competitive job market.

“So far [being a double-major] has shown me that with dedication I can honestly do anything because it sounded like a lot but here I am doing it,” she said.

Double-majors may have an extra additive to their resume, but at least two employers said double-majoring paled when compared to what they truly value: relevant work experience.

“While a double-major may speak to a candidate’s academic commitment and work ethic, it would not automatically trump an applicant who had only one major,” said, Karl Kreutziger, president of  C.W. Driver Companies.

“The most competitive applicants in our field have a combination of academic studies,  work or internship experience, and student extra-curricular activities such as student clubs or members of academic competitions,” Kreutziger said.

Kreutziger emphasized the importance of students having hands-on experience.

“The applied part of their studies is where we really see the differentiators among applicants. Ideally, we try to hire college applicants who have at least two or more industry internships over their college career,” Kreutziger said.

“Experience is more important: That candidate would be preferred,” said Rosemaria Altieri, senior director of human resources for Southern California News Group. “[Multiple majors] does not automatically trump another applicant.”

The common belief among students that being a double major would impress their future employers is logical, but cramming two majors’ course loads into four years is not always wise said Eva Scalzo, founder of Key Academic Advising.

“They feel that they are better rounded, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend double majoring for anybody unless they really want to do that much work. A solution is doing a major and minor,” Scalzo said.

Scalzo advises students individually with the college application process and decisions on majors.

“A lot of my students will do a major and a minor. That way it’s allowing them to focus on two areas of interest. The major being what they are pursuing as a field of study but the minor being something that they also have interest in,” Scalzo said. “It is more work, but I don’t think you are taking away from learning other subjects.”

Some students realize they are interested in two subjects equally once they begin attending college classes, which may result in the pursuit of two majors, Scalzo said.

“If they are going to double major I think it is intelligent to do it in the same field or discipline. If you create enough crossover then you won’t have an issue with overwhelming work,” she said.

While these employers value experience over education, the benefits of being a double-major still prevail in the workforce as shown by Makridis’ study. The tug-of-war remains between students with a diverse academic skill set and students with pertinent experience in a given field.

Madison Taber

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