The Difficulty of the Double Major

Alan Le | Staff Photographer

Double majoring isn’t easy. Now, that may sound pretty obvious to most students. Or you might completely disagree. If you’re the type of overzealous academic who would dare a double major (or an extremely brave triple), the intellectual and scheduling strain of juggling two majors is probably perfect for your productivity. I thrive with a heavy course load and tightly structured days. My problem is more of a social and environmental problem.

I came into UCI as a history major. Before even beginning actual history courses, something deep down told me to switch while it was still timely. In a brash, not very well thought-out move, I switched to Literary Journalism (LJ) and hoped for the best. Luckily, for the first time I felt perfectly at home at UCI. There wasn’t a single requirement I hated. My teachers fulfilled an unrealized need for personal support and connection. My peers in the major turned into the dream artistic, intellectual community I’d always wanted. We sit in the pub and talk about our articles, we work together, we e-mail each other our drafts for additional editing and generally nerd out about all things non-fiction.

How does my double major factor into that? Well, last year I took a drama class to pad my schedule and let me get back in touch with my performance art roots. I had intended to flirt a little with the department so unlike my own and then retreat back to the warm embrace of LJ feeling somewhat more well-rounded. But what actually happened was that drama was a new, fascinating and oddly familiar siren. I continued taking classes and declared the major at the beginning of fall.

What sealed the deal for me was Drama 30C, the end of the introduction to acting series. I was taking 20 stressful units (again with the overzealous academic … ) and barely staying afloat in the 8 a.m. class that required more energy than any of my other 16 units. Struggling in a class that I actually liked was kind of new for me. This wasn’t AIDS Fundamentals where everything about viruses and cells and public health flew over my head or high school calculus where I couldn’t even compute the numbers and symbols in front of me. This was acting, where my grade was 40 percent participation. No matter how well I did on papers, journals or monologues, everything came down to attitude, poise and grace. Even though I ended the quarter with four beautiful A’s, there was still an unsightly and barely passing grade in 30C. I sulked over it for awhile, but in the end it pushed me forward. If a better attitude, more poise and a more graceful disposition would have gotten me a better grade, I was going to make up for it after the fact and accept the bad grade and learn the lesson. And if there was a major out there that challenged my attitude as well as my creativity and intellect, it was a major worth adding.

So how’s it going? It’s … alright.  My classes are great, my professors are incredible, my future career options are getting more focused and closer to my pre-collegiate dreams. But why am I jealous of my LJ peers and their classes? Why would I prefer, at this junction, to redo my nearly completed major?

Because my dream artistic community, the one I actually achieved, is somewhere over the arts bridge. For the first time since I switched elementary schools in the fourth grade, I feel like the new kid. It’s to be expected, but it really makes me crave lower division LJ courses, the big upper division lecture, the literature classes … Costume Design is fun, but it’s no Literature of the Age of Segregation.

There are days when the classes I’m taking and the people over there on the School of the Arts island make me forget that I’m the new kid. Sometimes discussing Shakespeare and Greek tragedies trumps having to go interview a stranger. The Cyber A is always, without fail, better than Starbucks. Watching a drama professor tap dance across a stage out of excitement over proscenium spaces is usually more entertaining than arguing about ethics.