College Trends: Double Major Makes College Count





Edward Hopper Nighthawks, 1942

In January, the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage points to 8.3 percent and the number of unemployed persons declined to 12.8 million. However, there were 1.1 million discouraged workers, about the same from a year earlier. Discouraged workers are people who don’t seek work since they believe no jobs are available for them.

At bedtime, after mamas read Dr. Seuss’ Oh the Places You’ll Go to their babies and give them goodnight kisses, they whisper, “Reach for the stars.”

What if they whispered “and don’t forget to get that Minor in Spanish or Econ while you’re at it?”

Dr. Donal T. Manahan, Professor of Biological Sciences and Vice Dean for Students at the University of Southern California advised the 2011 incoming freshman class to explore double-majors or at least one minor, along with their primary major. To make his point, he held up a floppy disk in one hand. “Remember these?”

No one has a crystal ball to tell you if one day your child’s career will resemble the metaphorical floppy disk.

It’s a dismal thought, which makes me wonder about the 1.1 million discouraged Americans who believe they have no job options. Education is a crucial key to having a way to make a living. Having an open mind may be just as important.

Consider Edward Hopper who painted one of the most famous works of art in American history, Nighthawks. He enrolled in art school at age eighteen and like most other American artists of the early 1900’s, he studied in Paris and Spain. By the age of forty-nine, Hopper had sold only two paintings.

So what did he all that time to pay the rent? He painted propaganda posters during World War I.

William Carlos Williams, a leading poet of the twentieth century, paid the rent by working as a family physician. He believed being a doctor was essential to his art. “One feeds the other in a manner of speaking; both seem necessary to me,” Williams reportedly said. He delivered over 2000 babies. Few of his patients knew he was one of America’s leading poets.


College Trends. USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences has 60 majors and 80 minors.




My oldest son will complete his first year of college in May. He’s still grappling with his options: History? Art History? International Relations? Sports Media? Whatever he decides, it’s clear he’ll be branching out across different fields of study. I don’t have a crystal ball, but by building a foundation of cross-disciplinary study, he could avoid what 1.1 million Americans are currently facing: disappointment.

Sources:                                                                                                                                    The Intellectual Devotional by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim                                        Great Paintings of the Western World by Alison Gallup, Gerhard, Gruitrooy and Elizabeth M. Weisberg                                                                                                                             US Department of Labor





Author Description

Cynthia Baseman

Cynthia Baseman is the author of 'Love, Mom: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Hope.' She writes about motherhood, the environment and education.

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