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March 22, 2021
6 mins read

How these 8 undergrads decided on minoring

Are you considering adding a minor to your degree—and wondering if it’s a) too challenging and/or b) worth it?

To give you some perspective, we reached out to 8 undergrads who added a minor to their degrees. Read on for their stories and insights!

Sampriti

Sampriti Manna

Major: Media Studies
Minor: Visual Art

Story: I’m very passionate about art, so I always knew I wanted to take Visual Art classes in university. And because I also want to work in the arts, I felt that minoring in Visual Art would demonstrate my credentials.

Takeaways and challenges: I’ve worked as a marketing intern in corporate environments and for student-run initiatives—and the knowledge and skills I’ve gained from my minor have definitely helped me create visuals quickly and creatively. Visual Art can be time-consuming and labour-intensive, and it’s been difficult to strike a work-life balance sometimes. But I’ve learned to work well ahead of due dates. 

Advice: If there’s a voice inside you encouraging you to keep reading into a particular subject—which happens to be a declarable minor!—listen to it. Talk to a professor connected with that minor to get perspective.

Brandon

Brandon Chai

Major: Behavioural Neuroscience
Minor: Nutritional Sciences

Story: I've always been interested in how our bodies function to maintain health. Food and nutrition are significant contributors to our physical and mental health—and subjects I wanted to learn more about!

Takeaways and challenges: Balancing a full course load has been challenging—but manageable. My major has a flexible third and fourth year, so it balances well with my minor: I get to take Nutrition courses as electives!

Advice: Consider your eligibility and graduation timeline: Some minors have prerequisites for entry and might conflict with your major schedule-wise. Some require you to take more courses compared to other minors, so you may have to take summer classes or extend your degree.

YingXi

Yingxi Li

Major: Psychology
Minor: Speech Science

Story: I took a Linguistics course in my first year and found the subject really interesting, so I continued taking Linguistics courses. I did consider other minors in my second year, like Education and Health & Society. But I found that I was most interested in Linguistics, so I chose Speech Science—which integrates elements of Psychology and Linguistics.

Takeaways and challenges: I love how applicable this minor is to real life. As an international student whose native language isn’t English, I’ve found learning Linguistics challenging—but it’s meaningful for me to overcome these difficulties. The workload’s heavy, too, but I take it upon myself to keep going.

Advice: Take a diverse range of courses and see which course(s) you like the most. Talk to students in your prospective minor!

Christopher

Christopher Ng

Major: Pharmacology
Minor: Commerce

Story: After my first few years studying science at UBC, I realized that understanding the basics of drug interactions didn’t necessarily translate into getting drugs to patients who needed them. To pursue this goal, I’d have to learn more about business.

I soon discovered that non-Sauder students cannot directly register for Commerce courses. This left me with two options: pursuing a Bachelor + Master of Management degree or a Minor in Commerce. I ultimately chose the latter because it’s the cheaper option, and I plan to pursue an MBA in the future.

Takeaways and challenges: Since Pharmacology requires me to take a lot of science courses in second and third year, I’ve appreciated the diversity that Commerce courses offer. Many courses in the Commerce minor emphasize teamwork, so I’ve gotten to meet lots of awesome people from different faculties with interests similar to mine. A lot of the courses also fit easily into my jam-packed schedule, which is a definite plus! 

Learning fundamental business terminology and skills has helped me in my internships in management consulting and the pharmaceutical industry. The organizational management skills I’ve gained from my minor have also enabled me to start my own nonprofit, Incline Education, which has helped more than 1000 Canadian students transition to university.

Advice: Add a minor to learn about something you’re interested in outside of your degree. Whether you want to learn about a new subject or expand your knowledge on something you’re already passionate about, there’s probably something for you!

Darren

Darren Chang

Major: Accounting and Business Technology Management
Minor: Economics

Story: I’ve been interested in Economics ever since I took an introductory course in high school. The first year of my Commerce program also exposed me to introductory Economics classes, which further cemented my interests.

Takeaways and challenges: The best part about Economics is definitely the people I’ve met in my classes! Many requirements for majors become more siloed in third year and fourth year, so taking electives has allowed me to interact with individuals I’d otherwise not have met.

Economics has also helped hone my research skills and approaches. From locating industry datasets to interpreting trends, the coursework has helped me develop a strong research foundation—which was especially helpful during my Co-op placements.  

This minor also balanced well with my Commerce program in the first few years, but it did get harder to balance in upper years, as I had to keep track of both my major and minor requirements. 

Advice: Don’t view it as a big commitment! You can always try out a few classes in the subjects you’re interested in and see if your prospective minor’s a good fit. If you do decide on taking a minor, schedule courses carefully to ensure you meet all requirements.

Ethel

Ethel Wai

Major: Biology
Minor: English Language

Story: I've always loved reading and writing, so I wanted to study English on the side, just for fun. I decided on minoring in English Language as I’m interested in how different cultures and socioeconomic communities perceive and use English. 

Takeaways and challenges: As a Biology student, I'm mostly looking at microscopes or inputting field data—so I've always considered my English classes an opportunity to recharge; it's nice to explore different angles of both critical and creative thinking. 

This minor has allowed me to explore how English behaves in the written context, connects to human behaviour, and shapes society. I’ve found myself understanding the world a little better through studying the English language, which is a reward in itself already!

This minor has also helped me practice effective communication. I used to always go over word limits, but now I’ve become more succinct.

Advice: Take a few electives in the subject you’re interested in and see if you truly enjoy what you're learning. If you don't have a particular area of study in mind, take electives from different departments and something might just click! 

An

An Xu

Major: English Literature
Minor: Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies (ACAM)

Story: I actually stumbled across the ACAM minor on Facebook—I think there was a sponsored post from the department about an event. I immediately thought that this minor was super interesting and relevant to my interests as an Asian Canadian. 

Takeaways and challenges: What I find most fulfilling about being in ACAM is the sense of community and security fostered by the faculty and my cohort. Even the course content engages with community-based learning and work—many of us are Asian Canadians hoping to unlearn white supremacy and reorient what it means to have such a hyphenated identity.

ACAM also balances well with my major, as I'm interested in Asian Canadian and post-Colonial literature. Many themes are similar; I'm able to apply what I learn in ACAM to my literary analyses.

ACAM has also helped me in the workplace. I work in a customer service environment, and ACAM has given me a better understanding of work dynamics and the unacknowledged privilege that exists in more transactional interactions. 

Of course, this minor has also been challenging at times, as I'm taking courses outside my major and comfort zone. But it’s been really rewarding to consider issues from different perspectives and learn new skills. 

Advice: Pick something that can make you more rounded, whether that’s something that you want to take for fun or that might apply to your personal life. Courses in your minor can surprise you in how much they apply to your major or offer you new transferable skills. 

Sasha

Sasha Honcharova

Major: Media Studies
Minor: Visual Art

Story: Coming to UBC, I was primarily planning on applying to programs related to photography, film, and visual art—but I was unsure which art industry I wanted to explore the most. Ultimately, I decided on majoring in Media Studies and minoring in Visual Art, as Media Studies felt like an all-encompassing fit with good career prospects, and Visual Art was more hands-on and what I actually felt passionate about! 

Takeaways and challenges: Taking Media Studies has introduced me to a variety of different industries and media from a more theoretical perspective, while Visual Art gives me opportunities to apply those theories. I’ve had a full course load every term but one—but I like this challenge as it’s definitely helped me stay organized. 

My Visual Art courses have also helped me in my work as a photographer. Although I have to follow guidelines at work that differ in style from my personal work, I can still apply the knowledge from my Visual Art minor to improving my skills and pushing my professional and artistic boundaries.

Advice: No matter what you choose, there’s a chance you actually end up enjoying your minor more than your major—and that’s okay! 

Figuring out whether to add a minor can be challenging, but you don’t have to navigate this decision-making process alone. Take others’ perspectives and experiences as reference material—try to stick to what you feel is best for you!