At Allegheny, we feel so strongly about unusual combinations that they are built right into our curriculum: We’re one of the few liberal arts colleges nationally that will ask you to choose a minor as well as a major. Does this make school more difficult? In some ways it probably does.
But we find that most of our students are people for whom the most difficult thing would be to give up some vital part of themselves. Some Allegheny students have majors and minors that complement each other in predictable ways — an international studies major with a minor in French, for example — but you’ll also see any number of students whose majors and minors represent very different aspects of themselves: an environmental studies major with a minor in creative writing, a chemistry major with a minor in history.
Are these impractical flights of fancy? We don’t think so. In the same way that we’re convinced a liberal arts education is a more pragmatic preparation for a rapidly changing world than any sort of narrow technical training, we’re convinced that having multiple areas of expertise and myriad interests will just make you that much more successful. The scientist who can present her data in an engaging yet persuasive manner will be more successful in her career; likewise, the international aid worker who can quickly integrate the latest quantitative data will be that much more effective in his work. Life is not lived within narrow disciplinary lines. Why should college be?