Why All STEM Majors Should Get A Minor

Adding a minor to your STEM major is a game-changer. Break free from your comfort zone, unlock new experiences, and expand your career prospects. Dive into minors and maximize your college years.

Why All STEM Majors Should Get A Minor
Image: Generated by Midjourney

Listen up, my fellow STEM enthusiasts! We're a bunch of smart, curious individuals who've fearlessly chosen the challenging path of a STEM degree. But here's the thing: many of us fall into the trap of thinking we know it all and end up missing out on valuable learning experiences. It's time to break free from our comfort zones and venture into the unexplored territories of knowledge. In this post, I'll make a compelling case for why adding a minor to your STEM major is a game-changer.

The Entitlement Trap and the Urge to Explore

We've always been labeled as the "science kids" since day one, constantly praised for our intelligence. So, naturally, we thought we had it all figured out when we picked our supposedly "smart" majors. People marveled at our choices, saying, "Biochemistry? That's tough. You must be a genius!" But let's not get too comfortable with our own brilliance.

My Eye-Opening Journey

When I started college, I was hyper-focused on my Biochemistry degree. General chemistry and calculus seemed like a breeze since I had already aced them in high school. Science clubs, top grades, and professors' pet – I had it all. Who needs those "stupid" distractions outside of chemistry, biology, and physics? Little did I know that a 7-week summer research program would shake up my world.

I found myself in a Computational Chemistry lab, where coding skills were preferred. Now, I've always shied away from coding. My first encounter with Turbo Pascal was a nightmare, and I convinced myself that I couldn't hack it in the computer science realm. But life had other plans for me. Suddenly, I was thrown into a whirlwind of computational tools, terminals, and shared files. The stress was real, especially when the physical chemistry jargon flew over my head. But here's the kicker: I discovered that anyone can learn anything with the right resources and a determined mindset. I emerged from that summer program with newfound confidence.

Fueled by the realization of the immense potential of computers in scientific research, I took the plunge and enrolled in my first computer science (CS) class. I declared a minor in CS the next semester, and boy, was it a wild ride. In fundamental courses, I found myself surrounded by freshmen, while in electives, my peers were seasoned CS pros. I won't lie – I often felt like the only confused person in the room. Spending hours deciphering terms like "ssh into my account" burst my bubble of self-sufficiency. But you know what? It made me hungry for knowledge and pushed me to seek out resources like never before. I embraced the discomfort and discovered a whole new world of learning.

Why Distinctiveness Matters

Now, let me tell you a secret: most of our peers choose minors that closely align with their majors. Biochemistry major, biology minor – seriously? Talk about missed opportunities! I'm not belittling their abilities, but let's make the most of our college years, where we have the freedom to explore anything. Opting for a minor that diverges from your major opens up a world of possibilities. For instance, while I geeked out with my CS buddies about the wonders of ChatGPT and the future of AI, some of my Biochemistry pals dismissed it as a job-stealing gimmick. Little do they realize how AI could revolutionize their scientific careers.

Here's an added bonus: pursuing a minor outside your major exposes you to a whole new community of students. You make new friends, forge connections, and expand your network. And guess what? More connections mean more job references and potential scholarship opportunities. Each department has its own funding options, so why limit yourself?

Taking Action

Ready to dive into the world of minors? Here's a roadmap:

  1. Dive into your university's catalog of minors and majors. Jot down the fields that catch your interest.
  2. Talk to your advisor about coupling specific minors with your major. Discuss credit hours, graduation timelines, and financial implications.
  3. Connect with students who've taken classes in the minors you're interested in.
  4. Enroll in introductory courses of the chosen minor, preferably those that count toward your minor requirements.

Reflect on your experience: whether to declare that minor or to continue searching!

Remember, the earlier you act, the less juggling you'll face between your required degree classes and minor electives in your junior and senior years.

I would suggest you also check out this post Can You Get a Job With a College Minor?