By Alayna Johnson, 2018-2019 SCS Student Advising Leader:
Earning a minor is becoming an increasingly popular way to explore different fields while in college. Popular minors for SCS students include biology, physics, and food science. However, many students successfully minor in completely unrelated subjects such as music and business because they are passionate about the subject area. Because the chemistry and chemical engineering curricula are so strenuous, some students may feel hesitant to put even more on their plate (understandably!). However, there are still some great reasons to consider this option:
- Explore your passions. This is the simplest and most common reason for pursuing a minor. From criminology to Islamic studies to informatics, there a plenty of options to explore. A minor is an excellent way to keep your interests outside of chemistry blooming. For a full list of all the unique minors offered at Illinois, check out: http://catalog.illinois.edu/undergraduate/minors/
- Boost your résumé. Both the chemistry and chemical engineering curricula here at Illinois boost both breadth and depth, but they can’t cover every need of every student. For instance, the specialized chemistry curriculum does not offer any courses in materials chemistry. As a prospective materials chemist, I felt this could put me at a disadvantage when applying to graduate school so I decided to pursue a minor in materials science to bridge this gap. A similar example might be a chemical engineer who is interested in food production declaring a food science minor. In any case, a minor can help you stand apart from the competition when going into industry or academia.
- Take a break from chemistry! Let’s be honest: even the most dedicated among us get tired of chemistry lecture after chemistry lecture. Including classes for your minor in your schedule is a great way to take a mental break from your required chemistry classes. They will give you a chance to use your mind in different ways. Pursuing a minor is also an opportunity to meet people in other fields who you may not have otherwise connected with.
If you’re interested in pursuing a minor, the next step is to consult your SCS advisor and the advisor that oversees the minor. They can both help you create a course plan that ensures you graduate on time without overloading. They will also let you know about any overlapping courses between your major and minor. For example, CHEM 444 satisfies a requirement for both specialized chemistry (my major) and materials science (my minor), which frees up space in my schedule!