Researchers are concluding that two college majors are better than one. Double-majors not only earn more than their peers who majored in only one field, they are also more innovative. In a new study, researchers found that students who double-majored scored 17.4 percentile higher on the overall innovation measure than the average student.
What does it mean to be more innovative and why does it matter? Innovative capacities include skills related to networking, persuasive communication, working on diverse teams, and risk taking. These qualities matter in the job market because employers want more from college graduates than good grades. What employers really want are graduates who can effectively work in diverse teams, are creative thinkers, and have persuasive communication skills.
Hence, since innovators are in demand in the marketplace, should all students double-major? Probably not – this academic pathway of double-majoring may not be the best choice for all students. Part of the reason why double-majors are able to hone their innovative skills is because double-majoring provides students with experiences in which they are able to see connections between content in different courses. Additionally, taking classes for two majors might increase networking with peers across disciplines.
Therefore, what colleges and universities should do instead is to help students find ways to integrate material across disciplines, interact with each other across majors, and work on teams to solve real-world problems. All of these could be done through existing courses or perhaps new spaces dedicated to innovation on campuses. That way, even if students don’t double-major, they are still able to hone their innovative capacities and become more attractive to employers.
The keyword here is innovation – a trait that is in high demand with employers. In fact, we should not wait until students reach tertiary education to inculcate and hone their innovative capacities. Our everyday lessons should focus on helping students to be more curious and innovative in their thinking. That way, it will come as second nature to them when they reach the stage where being innovative is demanded of them on a daily basis.
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