Why is it so difficult to get into elite colleges and universities like Harvard, Princeton and Yale (HPY)? The fundamental reason is that more students than ever are getting both exceptional GPAs and perfect or near perfect SAT/ACT/MCAT/GMAT scores. In addition, applicant’s personal and athletic achievements today are unparalleled. Colleges that used to attract students from their geographic region, now consider amazing students from around the country and from all over the globe. Finally, since the creation of admission platforms like the Common Application/Universal College Application and AMCAS, students are able to apply almost effortless to one or more than 20 institutions with nearly the same effort. Thus, acceptance rates have declined precipitously to the point that Harvard’s 2018 Regular Decision Admissions Acceptance rate was a historic 2.76%. The Early Decision Acceptance Rate was 14.54%, with the overall acceptance rate at about 5%, amazingly competitive.
One way to stand out and differentiate yourself is to follow your passion and define yourself with a double major or earning joint degrees. A double major earns you one degree, but two concentrations. The dual or joint degree earns you two distinctively separate degrees such as BA/BS, BS/MD, BS/MBA, MD/MPH or JD/MBA. Cases in Point:
Kai earned his BA in Biology from Lehigh, a Masters in Science (MS) from Columbia University and a Medical Masters in in Science (MMSc) in Immunology from Harvard. Kai plans to attend medical school and later become an academic neurosurgeon, treating and curing brain cancer.
Ulysses earned his BA in East Asian Studies from Columbia University, currently attends Columbia Business School earning an MBA, while currently in the School of International Public Affairs earning a Master’s in International Affairs (MIA). Julian plans to advise finance ministers of developing nations on how to improve their infrastructures, such as roads, tunnels and energy grid.
Dan earned his college degree from Columbia College, and just received his medical degree from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, as well as his MBA from Columbia Business School.
In fact, 30% of University of Pennsylvania Wharton students graduate with more than one degree.
The major point here is not to show off or spend limited resources on unnecessary tuition. The objective is to become an expert in your field, something that you’re passionate about. Frequently, your interests align across two disciplines. For example, Ulysses’ interests include mastering both the private, corporate side of finance and the public, government side of finance from the perspective of global transactions. As mentioned earlier, he wants to guide finance ministers of underdeveloped countries to fund and improve their infrastructure in order to assist countries sustain economic progress over time. Thus, he currently earns Masters degrees, both an MBA and MIA (international affairs). Again, the ultimate goal is to become an expert in your field, build a niche that when mastered you become indispensable to your company and to global clients and well respected in your industry.
Kai, while on his way to medical school and later a physician-scientist, first followed his interests in the normal human body, and health nutrition earning a Master’s in Nutrition. As a continued, he followed his quest for knowledge in the diseased body and how it fights disease, in particular cancer. Thus, Kai earned a second Masters in Medical Immunology. Thus, Leland attained the scientist part of the equation. Next is medical school to become a clinician.
Many students aspire to go to medical school with no comprehensive plans thereafter. This lack of vision is unimpressive to medical school admissions committees. On the other hand, Dan sees his future in pharmaceutical senior management, producing drugs that cure illnesses and acquiring companies that dominate industries. Hence, he earned an MBA with his MD medical degree at Columbia to optimize his business acumen and medical knowledge.
The Bottom Line:
Colleges, medical schools and business schools admire applicants with an intermediate and long-term view for the future that include double majors and joint degrees as part of their plans. To stand out, enhance your credentials and impress in the application process, not to mention best meet your education and career goals, consider a double major or joint degrees.
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