Ohio Journalist

Double Major Dilemma

By Nathan Gordan

(December 1, 2015) — Alumna Michelle Doe double majored in journalism and visual communication during her four years at Ohio University. Doe enjoyed handling her class work, but she admits that double majoring did come with some negatives. “At times it sort of sucked because it was a lot of work, and scheduling classes was a royal pain,” said Doe. But the hard work is paying off. Doe is currently working at The Denver Post as a graphics artist. Alumni like Doe often mention having been overwhelmed with schoolwork, but if it means a better future, some decide to take on the bigger workloads that come with double majoring.

To be a full-time student at Ohio University, students must enroll in at least 12 credit hours, normally equivalent to four classes. To get done in four years, however, students must average 15 credit hours, typically five classes. Students who decide to double major have to take a minimum of 15 additional hours.

The common belief about double majoring is that you will be in school longer than four years, and your class load each semester will be very heavy. That belief is one reason that pushed senior Jessica Miller away from deciding to double major. Miller, with help from her adviser, decided not to double major because she did not want to spend more than four years in school, and she did not want to pay for more than four years of school. “I think a fifth year of school would be a little much for me,” said Miller. “I like school but I’m also a little anxious to get to the real world and start a real job and get paid real money.”

Kaitrin McCoy double majored in journalism and music composition. When she added music composition her sophomore year, her schedule became much busier. She began taking no fewer than 17 credit hours and there was one semester she had to take 21 credit hours. “That was bad,” McCoy said. “That was a really bad idea. No one should do that to themselves.”

Jacob Betzner, a journalism and economics double major, was in the same boat as McCoy. There were times when he had to take as many as 20 credit hours. But Betzner also was able to find ways to be more efficient as well. “From my economics classes, I was able to come up with story ideas for journalism classes,” said Betzner. “I was able to get them to play off each other, which cut down on my amount of class work.”

Betzner recently was hired by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s investigation team.

McCoy and Betzner agree that the fact that they double majored increased their chances of finding work. Betzner says he felt more marketable with two majors under his belt. “Having knowledge in more than one area will help me no matter where I end up down the road,” he said.

“Apparently it’s impressive to have two degrees and I think one of the internships I got was solely because I was a double major,” said McCoy, now a contributing writer for Kiki magazine.

Doe graduated in May of 2013 and was able to land a job at The Denver Post in less than a year. She attributes this early career accomplishment to double majoring and the skills she learned while at school. Doe said she learned how to think creatively as well as how to hone in on the story, which allows her to work with information visually. “I don’t doubt that I would have eventually learned this in the industry had I chosen just one degree,” Doe said.

“But I think that putting in the extra work in college for a double major got me ahead of the game.”

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