When one begins the admissions process at USC, parents and high school students are shoved packets of information about how many majors and minors our university offers. USC’s website encourages students to “add a minor or a second major to their academic programs” and become a more well-rounded and informed individual. There is even the Renaissance Scholar Prize for students with the most opposite double-major or major-minor combinations. And for many students at USC, double majoring or picking up a minor is as normal and easy as attempting to remember your ABCs.
But for others, specifically students in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, an attempt to take multiple classes outside of their respective disciplines is more difficult than advertised.
The USC Office of Admission encourages students who are not married to a major to enter undecided. This plops unsure students in Dornsife. The Dornsife College Advising Office recommends taking GEs and some classes that suit the student’s interests until a major is declared, since it’s required that majors are declared by the end of 64 units. So there’s plenty of time to take classes that seem interesting. Right?
At USC, students generally take 128 units in their four years. And though that might seem like more than enough to double major with a minor, Dornsife, in particular, has requirements that eat up those units. With the six GEs, two writing courses and three language courses required of all students, the number of electives one can take falls dramatically.
Majors vary in requirements, and only certain combinations are feasible within four years. Interested in double majoring in environmental studies and psychology? Consider summer school for those extra two classes, or pay for extra units. Scheduling and planning becomes way more difficult than need be.
Thus, a minor becomes a better option. Dual interests can be explored without the unit requirements of double majors. However, without a double major, Dornsife has a 104-unit minimum requirement for classes completed within the liberal arts school if that is a student’s sole degree. If they have a minor or second bachelor’s degree, then that mandatory number drops to 96 units. That means a student will have just a handful of classes to take outside of Dornsife. If several classes were taken freshman year that don’t fill a requirement, however, the option for interdisciplinary studies becomes increasingly difficult.
Not to mention many majors or minors outside Dornsife (within the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism or the Marshall School of Business, for example) require applications that are only available at certain dates. Deciding to apply after the deadline prevents the student from taking classes that fulfill major requirements.
Is exploring multiple interests possible at USC? Certainly. In many combinations, it might be easy. However, Dornsife hardly encourages multidisciplinary learning with its language, general education and major requirements.
If introductory classes were two units instead of four, students could explore multiple interests freshman year while loading up on GEs. Dornsife should completely eliminate the requirement that a certain number of classes be taken within the college, since it seemingly encourages students to take electives instead of perusing a minor that can be built into a practical skill.
Major requirements should be lowered, at the very least for students with double majors. In addition, barriers between the schools should be lowered. The application process allows for only qualified students to switch majors, and that’s fair. However, applications should be accepted year-round.
Finally, students should be able to audit courses without it taking from their units. Auditing allows students to explore a subject minus the commitment.
Until changes are met, advisers must notify students of the restrictions before they build their first schedules. Though the advice to pursue all classes that seem interesting is lovely, it might prevent students from actually being able to complete degrees in the areas they eventually choose.
Leona Fallas is a freshman majoring in sociology.