Oct 23, 2014
2
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Pre-Medical
Hey, I am a freshman undergrad wanting to eventually become an orthopedic surgeon. I am currently declared as having a double major, one in biology with a pre-medical emphasis, and one in Chemistry along with a minor in Math. I am curious, is having the double major going to be beneficial for me to get into medical school? I am considering dropping the second major and just being a biology major with a chemistry minor. My other option is to keep the double major and change to an exercise science minor. What are some of your thoughts on this? Keep in mind : I am trying to prevent myself from burning out in my undergrad before even getting to difficult medical school, secondly the college I am enrolled in does not have a very strong chemistry department. I do not want to overload myself with work if it is unnecessary. Any input is greatly appreciated!

If I choose to do one major, that being Biology, what should my minor(s) be? I would definitely want a chemistry minor, at the same time exercise science interests me because I am fascinated by the human body. Also math is a great subject that I have been good at and enjoyed my entire life. Is it crazy to minor in all three (Chemistry, Math, and Exercise Science)?
 
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TxC

5+ Year Member
Feb 25, 2014
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Totally up to you. Schools most likely do not care. Get a high GPA & MCAT and have good extracurricular activities.

I have one major and it's not even related to science. I've done well so far this application cycle.
 

Dr. Retractor

5+ Year Member
Jul 11, 2014
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No, the double major won't help you in and of itself. I've said this before but the time you save having one major as opposed to two can be used for ECs and more studying which would make you look better to med schools. Also, it's my opinion that the math minor will help you for the MCAT and later on, so I'd advise keeping the math minor and doing one major.

Also, don't limit yourself to orthopedic surgery now. There are a lot of amazing specialties in medicine that pay well (I'm assuming that's the main reason you chose orthopedic surgery as a freshman in college, but I may be wrong). From your user/avi you seem to be into sports. PM&R is another good specialty for sports-related stuff.
 

Zoops

2+ Year Member
Oct 23, 2014
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I agree, from scanning the forums the past couple days it seemed like the general consensus was majors and minors do not make any difference in the adcom's decision. I was looking into the benefit of a spanish minor but your situation works as well.
 
Oct 15, 2013
116
158
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Medical Student
I wouldn't recommend double majoring. I did it for a year and I was basically in class or doing classwork almost all the time. A double major isn't really conducive to rounding out your experiences in undergrad, and unless you LOVE Biology and LOVE Chem and just can't see yourself not studying both of those things full time, I'd just stick to one major. Others are more qualified to comment on whether or not it'll do anything for you application-wise, but I can say that in my interviews so far my coursework has yet to come up
 
OP
The ACL Guy
Oct 23, 2014
2
0
Status
Pre-Medical
No, the double major won't help you in and of itself. I've said this before but the time you save having one major as opposed to two can be used for ECs and more studying which would make you look better to med schools. Also, it's my opinion that the math minor will help you for the MCAT and later on, so I'd advise keeping the math minor and doing one major.

Also, don't limit yourself to orthopedic surgery now. There are a lot of amazing specialties in medicine that pay well (I'm assuming that's the main reason you chose orthopedic surgery as a freshman in college, but I may be wrong). From your user/avi you seem to be into sports. PM&R is another good specialty for sports-related stuff.
I greatly appreciate your input. I have chosen orthopedic surgery because I had 2 complete ACL Reconstruction surgeries while in high school. I know how that doctor changed my life and I want to be able to pass that along and help improve the lives of others.
 

Lucca

Will Walk Rope for Sandwich
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Do you find the subject of your second major very interesting and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to study it full time while maintaining your other pursuits?

Yes: double major
No: don't do it

I'm a double major in science and liberal arts and I don't think it's particularly difficult to fit everything in at once but it all depends on you and what you are willing to take on.
 

baxt1412

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Oct 29, 2012
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not that making sacrifices in life is bad or avoidable, but in this instance, i would simply go with a single major and get fantastic grades. take a few chem courses on the side if you want, but telling yourself you HAVE to get a chem major at this point may just box you into thinking that you have to continue taking classes even if you eventually become disinterested, etc.

I agree, from scanning the forums the past couple days it seemed like the general consensus was majors and minors do not make any difference in the adcom's decision. I was looking into the benefit of a spanish minor but your situation works as well.
spanish can certainly help, although they will be more interested in how fluent you are, if you studied abroad, mission trips, etc. i am a spanish major
 

PlaqueBuster

"Perfect" practice makes you perfect
Oct 9, 2014
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Double majoring does not help you at all in your application or in your residency. I was a double major in Psychology and microbiology. I don't think I was burned out at all becuase I came in with lots of AP credits. This allowed me to take upper level courses and challenge myself which I mentioned in secondaries. So it atleast shows schools you took a rigorous schedule, but at the end of the day your grades are the most important. Make sure your GPA stays above 3.5. Also, what is a pre-med emphasis lol? pre-med courses are most likely going to be covered in your biology and chemistry major requirements. Too many people major in biology and I don't know why. I would think about declaring a major you are genuinely interested in. It doesnt have to be biology or Chemistry. At the end of the day you will be required to take the pre-med courses so you can try to over lap that with a major or pick a different major entirely.
 
Jul 31, 2014
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As an engineering major in college, the sheer amount of work and time required for the major means that if I could go back I wouldn't have done it. It would have been so much easier getting involved in ECs without the 80-100 hours of work each week. I imagine a double major would suffer from the same issues. No, I would not recommend it. Nobody will care.

A possible exception might be a foreign language. Being fluent in several languages is always a plus.
 

Holmwood

WOW
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Jul 20, 2014
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Just stick with a single major and get out of there asap. ;) Spend your extra time doing stuff that matters more such as extracurricular, doing research, or studying for the MCAT. Or, god forbid, get employed and save some money while you can!

There is no realistic benefit to having multiple majors, let alone minors. Adcoms (and even non-medical employers) seem not too impressed with a double major, especially with fields with much overlap such as chem and bio. Heck, double majoring can even work against you considering that it may make you look indecisive.

The sole exception, as @MajorBubblez stated, is language. Particularly Spanish. Of course, that's not a realistic option for you since you're so far along in your academics already.
 

Goro

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we don't care what your major or minor is, or whether you have two or more of them. We only care that you do well.
 
Jan 20, 2014
352
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Medical Student
To reiterate what Goro said, no one cares. Do well, that's all that matters. A 99th percentile MCAT and a major in Underwater Basket Weaving would make for one hell of an interview discussion.
 
Jul 22, 2014
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In my undergrad university it was actually a great idea but I didnt find out about it until too late.

Say you need 24 credits at the 4000 level from your department for your degree. Now instead of taking the 15 easy bio credits and being forced to take 9 hard bio credits to reach the quota, now you just take the easiest 12 credits from the bio faculty and the easiest 12 credits from the chem faculty.

For us it didnt mean taking extra classes or more credits, it just meant more options and freedom to take easy classes and good profs and I hate that I missed it.
 

nOchemallday

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Apr 15, 2013
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So I'll come from the "double major is better" angle since you seem to have a lot of "it doesn't matter" advice. While for the sake of medical school it doesn't matter, considering what you'd do if you weren't accepted can largely influence your decision to double major. I happen to be a bio and chem double major. Frankly, there's limited and competitive opportunities for bio majors in research positions. Most are very low wage (considering you have a bachelor's degree) and I've found trying to get experience (i.e. volunteering to do research in a bio dept) has been exceptionally difficult. Also, at my school the bio major is ~175 kids whereas the chemistry major has ~18 (myself included). I started as a bio major, but was able to find a research position through chemistry, ended up having a higher chemistry GPA than bio GPA, my chemistry PI wrote me a solid LOR and hooked me up with an internship this past sumer (who then offered me a paid job after I graduate if med school doesn't work out). Basically I'm just trying to say that tacking on a double major may improve your career outlook should medical school fall through.
 

noolsy

5+ Year Member
Aug 24, 2013
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Pre-Medical
Doubled majored in bio and literature. Was it worth it to me? Yes, absolutely. I would take none of it back. But does a double major affect med school prospects? If you overload yourself every semester and can't pull a very high GPA (on top of volunteering, shadowing, research -- other important experiences), this might set you back. I think it's only worthwhile if: 1. You can get great grades despite demanding course loads OR 2. You're willing to pay for love of learning out of your GPA. For option 2, you'll eventually need to come up with a pretty compelling story to make up for the loss.
 
Jan 20, 2014
352
316
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Medical Student
Multiple majors have lower acceptance rates than single majors. This is likely due to the lower GPA that accompanies each major added (due to the increase in required workload). With that said, it is clear multiple majors are not 'compensated' for it in admissions, it is a net negative for applicants to have multiple majors. The only reason multiple majors should be done is if they are something you truly want to do and you can perform at your peak doing them. I went the multiple major route, and while I do not regret it, my GPA would certainly have been higher had I chosen to stick with one. In the end it didn't really matter. I enjoyed doing what I did, so it was worth it to me.

Multiple majors should never be considered in an attempt to:

  • Increase your odds of gaining admission
  • Increase your 'knowledge base' for medical school
  • 'Impress' people (generally makes you sound pretentious, actually)
 
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Coffee Monster

5+ Year Member
Sep 19, 2014
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I was on the edge about getting a double major last year as well. I started with a biochemistry major. Because of AP credits, I would have been forced to graduate if I didn't declare a second major. I was in no hurry to graduate early since a scholarship was paying for a full 4 years of undergraduate school, so it was in my best interest to get everything out of that opportunity. Anyways, I guess I was channeling Warren Buffet when he said "the best investment you can make is in yourself."

I ended up choosing a second major in finance for several reasons...
I knew I didn't want another major in science simply because I was curious of what else the university had to offer.
I didn't want to get a fine arts major (painting, photography, music) because I knew those majors, while not particularly difficult, required a major time commitment, especially for me because I can spend months on a single project or piece of music to get it just right.
I wanted to choose a major that was ubiquitous in nearly all careers...something that I can see myself using later on in life...and it didn't necessarily have to do with medicine. When I went to an Q & A session hosted by my school with a couple of physicians, I asked them if they could go back to UG and choose a different major that they thought would most benefit them in the future, which major would they choose. They all said something in the business field, and the most common major was finance. I also had the opportunity to work with an optometrist in her private practice the summer after my freshman year, and she also expressed how much a background, even if its just a brief knowledge in finance, would really help her navigate the business side of medicine such as knowing some of the jargon, understanding the processes that go behind financial and management decisions, ect.

I have to say, there are some things I've learned that I can definitely see will be helpful in the future (and they aren't all major related skills). For example, all business majors are required to take a speaking course (I took interpersonal communication). I also took a project management course and an IT course on Excel. It seems like, from the classes I've taken, business majors emphasize a "project/group problem solving" approach rather than just going to class, taking notes, and studying for a test by yourself (which is generally what science majors at my school do, not sure if it's the same at other uni)

When I apply for medical school, an MD/MBA joint degree suddenly becomes a less intimidating and more enticing option to pursue, or I could just stick with a regular MD. But if I did decide to get an MD/MBA, the background in finance coupled with that MBA degree opens a lot more opportunity in terms of career choices outside of being a regular physician. Maybe one day I get to traveling to different countries working with their gov. and financial budget to develop a new healthcare system...who knows, right?

In the end, for me it came down to getting the degree to open more opportunities and make life easier in the future if I decide to open my own practice or move away from the traditional "physician or works in the hospital" route.
The only other thing you need to consider is the opportunity cost of pursuing that second major. Because the prereqs for a business major doesn't exactly mesh with a premed's reqs, I spent a lot of time taking a heavy load of classes (19-21 hours a semester regularly), so if I didn't manage my time well enough, I would miss out on clubs and volunteering. You may have to sacrifice goofing around and procrastinating to get both EC and a second major done....although now you can talk about how pursuing such unrelated majors has forced you to use your time efficiently and it shows you can handle a heavy course load, do research, volunteer, and manage a club.
However, like the post above me said, you should be do this without having your GPA drop.

Just my opinion :)
(I did not feel like proofreading, so excuse my oddly worded sentences and spelling errors LOL)
 
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