3 Ways to Pick Your College Minor

Choosing a major is hard enough. Now you have to pick a minor? Good news: You may not have to. Better news: You have many options if you do!

When planning for college, a student’s first thoughts are usually what their major is going to be—but for some students who need or want to, picking a minor can be just as taxing and complicated. As an English major, I personally struggled in finding what I wanted to choose as my minor and how it would relate to my major. Here are some tips for fellow English majors—or students in any field—looking for what they want to declare as a minor.

1. Find minors related to your desired field

One easy approach to choosing your minor is to look into the available minors in your area of study. For English majors, some related minors that students tend to pick are Creative Writing, Journalism, or Communications—often declared by students who want to be authors, journalists, or reporters. Picking a minor close to your field can help you build skills that are relevant to your major and can help you grow toward your future career. Minors also often provide skills you wouldn’t otherwise get in your primary major that could be seen as extremely valuable to future employers. Minors aren’t required at most colleges, so having one shows your desire and passion for learning and personal development.

Related: 7 Great Minors to Pair With Your English Major

2. Consider a cognate

At many universities, the option of a cognate is offered to students who may decide not to pursue a minor or who have a substantial amount of credits in another field of study. In contrast to a minor, which is a more prescribed plan of study, a cognate is more flexible with course selection. A cognate allows students to explore varying disciplines of study by taking a grouping of usually about three courses. Typically, a student will choose a cognate that’s outside of the traditional discipline of their field of study but will still allow them to relate the knowledge and skills back to their overall major. An example of cognates for a law student could be a grouping of courses in Political Science and another grouping in English, since having a strong understanding of the science of politics and strong written and verbal communication skills can lend to a lawyer’s ability to do their job well.

3. Pick something you like, even if it doesn’t relate

When trying to decide what you want to declare as your minor, it should be something you enjoy and have interest in. But if it doesn’t necessarily coincide with your major, that’s okay! Having a minor in a different field and learning about a subject outside of your major can expand your mind and enhance your college experience. Being an English major, I chose to minor in Creative Writing because it complements my major; however, I also enjoy creative writing. If you’re an English major (or want to be an English major) but you also have an interest in sociology—then study it! It’s a valid choice that won’t hinder your success as an English major, and you’ll likely gain knowledge that heightens your understanding of your English studies and any future career.

Related: How to Explore Your Passion When It’s Not Your Major

Ultimately, the decision of what to minor in is yours, so make the choice that feels right to you or brings you the most joy and worth. However, before making any decisions, be sure to consult with your academic advisor so they can help you evaluate your options and see what’s best for you academically. Good luck finding and declaring your minor!

Start researching your academic options at your school or schools of interest using our College Search tool.

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About Adriana Benjamin

Adriana Benjamin

Adriana Benjamin is an English major with a minor in Creative Writing in her junior year at the University of South Carolina. College can be a tricky point in life, so she hopes the words she writes can be a guide to help others navigate through it.


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