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Are minors worth it?

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By Isabelle Kirkwood

Ryerson University currently offers 55 minor programs, and now computer science and communication design are added to that list.

Similar to a major, a minor is a specialized or concentrated area of study. At Ryerson, it involves taking six courses associated with the field of study in question.

Although many students declare a minor, and some are required to take one with their program, the benefits of having one can be vague, regardless of what your major is.

The additions of the computer science minor and the communication design minor were approved at a Senate meeting that took place on Nov. 7.

The computer science minor will allow students to work with software development, as well as the language of computation, and the new communication design minor will offer theory classes pertaining to web, print and animation.

If you’re seeing your classmates go after their own minors or if you’re pulling your hair out over whether or not you should follow suit, we decided to find out what employers think about minors. We asked if minors help with admission into graduate school and why students decide to pursue a minor.

Testing the waters

For some students, taking up a minor to obtain a specialization can help them catch the eyes of potential employers.

Third-year sociology student Jake Roslyn is pursuing a minor in English. He said that although he’s leaning toward pursuing teaching or social work, he is not sure about a specific vocation, so he wants to keep his options open.

“I started doing a minor because I [thought] it would look good on a resumé and maybe open up more career paths,” Roslyn said. “I’m not locked into one job that I really want to do after school, so I figure that adding another skill set to my body of work would open me up to more industries.”

Joseph Elowe is a director at Spectra Engineering, an engineering firm that regularly hires recent graduates. Elowe said when hiring, he usually doesn’t care about a minor unless it’s relevant to the industry.

“It certainly doesn’t hurt their prospects,” Elowe said. “[A major and minor] should complement each other, but otherwise, we wouldn’t see it as a critical factor in our hiring process. We’re more concerned about an applicant’s major.”

Graduate school admissions

Admissions advisor for the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies, Audrey Fong, said being focused and targeted with what field you want to pursue is essential to an application, but a minor is not consequential to their selection process.

Fong said the benefit of a minor differs depending on the program, adding that it can be advantageous when applying to some fields of study, but insignificant when applying to others.

“Your minor should be tailored to suit the program you’re applying to,” Fong said. “So, when you do apply, you can state what your focus is, what you can to do for the university, and what the university can do for you.”

A minor gives you ‘the best of both worlds’

Although many students pursue a minor to meet the requisites of a job or graduate program, others choose to do so because they simply enjoy multiple fields of study.

Some students practice their major for their intended career, while engaging their interest-driven pursuits with a minor, such as majoring in electrical engineering while minoring in film or politics.

Mitul Shah, a fourth-year business management major, said he’s pursuing a finance minor, primarily because his co-op placement at a bank made him realize that finance was a field he enjoyed.

“At a financial institution, being able to leverage the knowledge of finance as well as having a technology background is the best of both worlds,” Shah said. “I haven’t had to sacrifice taking courses I’d enjoy, because at the end of the day, finance is something I enjoy.”

Shah said that some people advised him not to take a minor, as it would force him to forgo electives but he said his choice to a minor put him closer to the electives he was interested in.

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