Quadruple majoring

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mosiajam
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Quadruple majoring

Postby mosiajam » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:18 am UTC

So, if you could, which ones would you do? Currently, I'm:

Mathematics
Physics
Chemistry
Electrical Engineering

Yeah, I'm going to die. But I do have a ~1 year advantage because of APs.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Lazar » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:20 am UTC

...what?
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Meem1029 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:33 am UTC

Have fun with that. How many years of school are you planning on for this? I know you say you have plenty of APs, but most of those majors are on their own pretty crazy, and some people struggle to make them in 4. That said, I am going double with the Physics/Math, so I know those overlap. (also probably a CS minor)
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Dopefish » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:37 am UTC

I don't think most universities even allow such a thing, since afaik you end up taking slightly less in each individual major than you would if it was your sole major.

At mine, the most you can do is a double major (well, combined honours really, but same idea). I actually might have tried to do a triple major if it existed of physics/math/chem since I was deciding between the 3, but ended up with just physics/chem. In hind sight, I think a triple major would've been murderous (but I do think I made the right choice on what two to stick with, lots of math in physics). I can't imagine you could manage a 4 year undergrad degree with 4 majors, or even a 5 year one, unless you cut down what you learned in each thing alot, at which point it's more like lots of minors, rather than majors.

If I were going to do a second double major though for some reason, then I'd do my next degree as math/philsophy.

I'd probably litter some cs courses in for elective purposes too, since apparently the ability to program is very very valuable in most hard sciences.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby mosiajam » Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:21 am UTC

The only two fields I'm really "serious" about taking are math and electrical engineering. I'm interested in the former, and the latter is a good career path. But just because I'm weird, I'd like to see if I'm capable of doing a quadruple major in four years. I have to take 7 or 8 classes a semester or so, and since all the general education requirements are met, all those seven will be major-specific. If I must drop, I'll do chemistry first. And then physics. I'll never drop below two.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby mmmcannibalism » Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:29 am UTC

I would do math/physics/econ/philosophy; I will get the double math/physics probably with minors in econ/philosophy.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:18 pm UTC

mosiajam wrote:So, if you could, which ones would you do? Currently, I'm:

Mathematics
Physics
Chemistry
Electrical Engineering

Yeah, I'm going to die. But I do have a ~1 year advantage because of APs.


In 4 years? Not a chance. In 7? Maybe. Problems I see are:

All four of those are fairly challenging subjects. You're going to have to invest some time to studying to actually understand what you're doing--probably a lot more than what you did at high school, even for APs.

Scheduling nightmare. 8 courses a semester, plus, with Phys, Chem, and Eng, probably 4-5 labs per week? You might be looking at 40+ hours per week just of lecture/labs, nevermind assignments or studying. Don't expect to have anything resembling a social life. Or sleep. That's assuming even if there is room in your schedule to put all of these courses conflict free...

8 courses/term probably isn't enough. That's only 2 courses in each subject per semester. A typical double major requires 5-6 courses/term split between two subjects and leaves little-to-no room for electives. To do four, you'd probably be really needing closer to 10+ courses/semester to finish in four years. If you aimed for a five year degree, you'd probably be able to do it with 7-8 courses per term. Summer courses probably won't help much, because not everything is offered in summers, but it could lighten your load a bit.

University probably won't let you. Unless you are able to present some really compelling evidence that you are able to multitask this type of courseload, I don't think that they'd let you attempt it in the first place--particularly the taking of 8+ courses/term.

Really expensive. Tuition is based on courseload. You'll be paying twice as much as the average person on campus. Even if you're full scholarship, the scholarship probably only covers up to a "full" courseload, not overfull. And merit scholarships are also often attached to GPA, meaning that in the rather likely event that you don't do well on a couple of your courses, you could risk losing your scholarship. If you're independently wealthy, I guess that's a different story.

University is about more than academics. Losing out on the entire cultural experience of university by huddling in a pile of books all hours of the day would be tragic. An important part of the experience is the stuff that isn't in class--socializing with intelligent people from different walks of life, getting involved in clubs/sports/student societies/crazy drunken parties, etc. are all things that you will miss out on if you pursue this course of action. You may regret this later more than you think you will now.

Your right brain will shrivel up to nothing and your left brain will explode. If you're doing 4 majors, you really might want to consider doing at least one in something... different. Medieval literature? German? Music? There's something to be said for a moderately well-rounded education.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:42 pm UTC

Maybe the OP investigating the matter and his schools requirements for each degree overlaps so cohesively it's only, say, a years coursework to fill the requirements for each major.

Personally, I think that'd shoot you in the foot; double majoring is impressive, triple majoring is showing off, and quadruple majoring means you couldn't decide on what you wanted to do with your studies.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Mike_Bson » Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:22 pm UTC

I'd probably do Math, Psychology, Physics, Biology. In that order.

Not that I would EVER have the desire to double major. Good luck, OP.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Kizyr » Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:36 pm UTC

I'd never want to if I were given the chance. I'd rather take time off to study abroad (I did take a semester off during my junior year to study abroad, which I was able to do by sacrificing the potential for a triple-major, so I'd be just as willing to sacrifice a quad-major to get a full year).

I had two majors (international affairs, economics) and one minor (Japanese). If I'd added on anything else, it would've been statistics. But again, all that's hypothetical as I wouldn't want to do a quad-major anyhow--too much time/effort that could go elsewhere, and too little payoff. KF
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby mosiajam » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:36 pm UTC

Already scheduled a double major, and perfectly planned out a triple major with a few backup plans in case I don't get into certain classes, but haven't fixed all the bugs with the quadruple major yet. My college advisor said that they couldn't actually stop me from doing this as long as I paid the fee and fulfilled the requirements. The fee isn't too bad; I have a full scholarship and a low-interest student loan to cover the rest.

That said, I'm not giving up my social life or extracurricular activities, and I'm especially not giving up on my intent to distribute vuvuzelas in the student dorms. It's always been my dream to keep people up at night. Well, I wasn't serious about the quadruple major thing, and was only mildly serious about the triple major thing. But double majoring is a must.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby cv4 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:05 pm UTC

Double Major + Masters > Quadruple Major

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby KestrelLowing » Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:15 am UTC

While I completely agree that quadruple majoring is just plain silly, I do wish I could do it. I'd still stick with MechE, but after that, I'd probably add chemistry, biology, and CS.

I know that could pretty much be covered in a biomed degree with a CS minor, but I was at war with biology when I started college, and I'm a little far to change majors, especially when I plan on going for my masters. Also, a CS minor is kind of ridiculous to get (nothing overlaps, and there's a bunch of prereqs to the required classes for the minor), although I do plan on taking at least some intro CS courses later as during my last two semesters, I won't have enough credits to be a full time student.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby meatyochre » Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:27 am UTC

Quadruple majoring is silly and there's no way you could get it done in fewer than 6 years--even then you would eat, breathe, and live school (can't imagine much time available for sleep). Pick the 2 you like best, preferably they will have some overlap (otherwise you'll probably still have trouble finding time to sleep). Then do your master's or phd in one of the other fields that interest you.

College is THE time for people to invent their adult selves. You should strive to be more than the classes you take.

Additionally, I can't say that someone with this much education would be appealing to hire. It's much better to transition into the workforce with one or 2 degrees, and get some real life experience. Then get the advanced degree. Otherwise you'll come out on the ass end of 6+ years of school with no job skills and a price tag no employer will be willing to pay.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby mosiajam » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:34 am UTC

A lot of people say that quadruple majoring is silly. I completely agree; I'm a silly individual. That said, I'm not going to waste my life. I still prefer a social life over a chemistry degree, and undergraduate research opportunities over a physics degree. I will still double major, though. However, if I can do it with only extra work, and without taxing the rest of my life too much, I would most certainly do it.

Let's put it this way. I'd like to see if I can do it for the same reason that people play a lot of different sports or go to a lot of different locations. The only difference between me and most is that I'm a silly nerd.

My serious plan is to try triple majoring. Quadruple if it was easier and less taxing than expected. Drop to double if it was more demanding than expected. Right after that, go through engineering school. And then go find a job. And I'd really like to think that I'm more than the classes I've taken, since that's what I'd been trying to do my entire life; I don't put much stock in school, other than to play around in it.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Dopefish » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:49 am UTC

Be carefully on that, first year (and even second year) often isn't representitive of the overall taxation of the material within a given major.

You might manage a first year on pace for a quadruple major without excessively taxing your life, and you might even do ok at it, encouraging you onwards to keep it up for another 3/4 years.

However, first year university courses tend to have lots of sections to choose from, in order to allow everyone who's just taking the course as an elective and/or to meet general requirements to find a non-conflicting spot. Higher level courses on the other hand can often be offered at one or two times only, so the probability of you actually being able to schedule 8 courses without conflict is small (a stats course is probably required for at least one of those majors, try calculating the actual probability :P ). You don't want to make it 3/4 years through, and then discover that suddenly you'll need to come back for another year simply because the course(s) you needed couldn't fit into your schedule.

Furthermore, a great deal of first year material and occasionally a bit of 2nd year material is stuff potentially learned in high school, but they need to spend time on because differing high schools cover different material. This can make some of the courses 'easier' (not necessarily easy), giving you the sense that it's hard, but you can handle it. Next thing you know though, you'll be faced with completely new and most likely strange and abstract material coming at you from every one of your courses, and the difficulty would spike. You often won't realise that it's 'that' much harder until after the deadline for dropping courses without penalty, and then you'll be stuck, most likely taking a massive hit to your GPA in the process.

Most of us, if not all of us, responding have been through university or are are in our upper years so know what it's like, and I very much believe that we we say quadruple majoring is 'silly', we're really just saying that it's a bad idea in a more polite manner. You'll make a great deal of work for yourself at risk to your social life and your GPA, for minimal gain in terms of 'real world' benefit.

If you simply want to learn about the material, go ahead and buy the textbooks and/or browse the internet for the material you want the learn about, and do it at your own pace when you have free time. Do this while taking a normal courseload for a double major, versus an 8 course overload suicide fest. I'm inclined to think you won't actually find you have much free time for such things even with that normal load, and so be very greatful that you didn't go with a course overload.

Basicly, be very careful you don't bite off more than you can chew, since the penalties for spitting stuff back out could negatively affect the rest of your life. :|

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby meatyochre » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:57 am UTC

Dopefish wrote:Basicly, be very careful you don't bite off more than you can chew, since the penalties for spitting stuff back out could negatively affect the rest of your life. :|

Yup. Burnout is 99% guaranteeable with that kind of courseload, no matter how much you enjoy it now.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Nlelith » Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:42 am UTC

It's very important to seriously ask yourself why you want to quadruple or triple major before going into it. If you're interested in these other subjects then consider taking some side courses rather than devoting an entire major to them. Focus on getting good grades and getting involved in research. The number of majors you have is far, far less important.

mosiajam wrote:But double majoring is a must.

Why is that?

cv4 wrote:Double Major + Masters > Quadruple Major

Also, Single Major + high gpa >> double major + mediocre gpa
(unless, of course, you're torn between two fairly different subjects that you're considering going to grad school for)

On a somewhat related note, how is it that people are able to fulfill their general requirements with AP credits? My school doesn't allow you to use them for that. Is it just different in a lot of other places?

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby etotheix » Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:46 am UTC

mosiajam wrote:A lot of people say that quadruple majoring is silly. I completely agree; I'm a silly individual. That said, I'm not going to waste my life. I still prefer a social life over a chemistry degree, and undergraduate research opportunities over a physics degree. I will still double major, though. However, if I can do it with only extra work, and without taxing the rest of my life too much, I would most certainly do it.

My serious plan is to try triple majoring. Quadruple if it was easier and less taxing than expected. Drop to double if it was more demanding than expected. Right after that, go through engineering school. And then go find a job. And I'd really like to think that I'm more than the classes I've taken, since that's what I'd been trying to do my entire life; I don't put much stock in school, other than to play around in it.


Did you get 5s on all your AP tests? Did you go to a regular public high school, or a specialized school? Were are you going to school now? For 99%+ of students, the college workload is a huge shock. Also, 2nd year courses are (typically) much more challenging than 1st year courses, and 3rd year courses are much more time intensive than 2nd year courses.

A triple major is really too much. I'd be willing to bet employers won't care, especially if they are in unrelated fields.

Also, if you want to do engineering, do engineering. Trust me, once you have one B.S. you won't want to go back for another one.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby supremum » Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:34 pm UTC

I'm gonna jump on the bandwagon here. Seriously, don't even try to do this. One of my close friends (and one of the smartest people I know) is struggling to finish her math/ee double major in 4 years, and she came in with about as much AP credit as you did. She says she "lives" in the circuit lab. She barely has any time to do her math homework and usually does it during class (she's probably the only person I know of who can actually pull this one off; I usually need a lot more time than that for my math homework). She also doesn't have time for sleeping, etc.

Don't quadruple major. It won't help you in the long run; it will certainly make things more difficult in the short run, and college isn't about showing off.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby doogly » Sat Sep 04, 2010 6:24 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Personally, I think that'd shoot you in the foot; double majoring is impressive, triple majoring is showing off, and quadruple majoring means you couldn't decide on what you wanted to do with your studies.

Yeah, I want to reiterate this. People are saying it's hard and unreasonable, but you can say "I'll show them! / Well, worth shooting for if I keep my exits open, right?" Really though, you shouldn't aim for it, because it does not signal impressive things to anyone evaluating your transcript. Achieve mastery in a thing.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Tyrankh » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:24 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
mosiajam wrote:So, if you could, which ones would you do? Currently, I'm:

Mathematics
Physics
Chemistry
Electrical Engineering

Yeah, I'm going to die. But I do have a ~1 year advantage because of APs.


In 4 years? Not a chance. In 7? Maybe. Problems I see are:

All four of those are fairly challenging subjects. You're going to have to invest some time to studying to actually understand what you're doing--probably a lot more than what you did at high school, even for APs.

Scheduling nightmare. 8 courses a semester, plus, with Phys, Chem, and Eng, probably 4-5 labs per week? You might be looking at 40+ hours per week just of lecture/labs, nevermind assignments or studying. Don't expect to have anything resembling a social life. Or sleep. That's assuming even if there is room in your schedule to put all of these courses conflict free...

8 courses/term probably isn't enough. That's only 2 courses in each subject per semester. A typical double major requires 5-6 courses/term split between two subjects and leaves little-to-no room for electives. To do four, you'd probably be really needing closer to 10+ courses/semester to finish in four years. If you aimed for a five year degree, you'd probably be able to do it with 7-8 courses per term. Summer courses probably won't help much, because not everything is offered in summers, but it could lighten your load a bit.

University probably won't let you. Unless you are able to present some really compelling evidence that you are able to multitask this type of courseload, I don't think that they'd let you attempt it in the first place--particularly the taking of 8+ courses/term.

Really expensive. Tuition is based on courseload. You'll be paying twice as much as the average person on campus. Even if you're full scholarship, the scholarship probably only covers up to a "full" courseload, not overfull. And merit scholarships are also often attached to GPA, meaning that in the rather likely event that you don't do well on a couple of your courses, you could risk losing your scholarship. If you're independently wealthy, I guess that's a different story.

University is about more than academics. Losing out on the entire cultural experience of university by huddling in a pile of books all hours of the day would be tragic. An important part of the experience is the stuff that isn't in class--socializing with intelligent people from different walks of life, getting involved in clubs/sports/student societies/crazy drunken parties, etc. are all things that you will miss out on if you pursue this course of action. You may regret this later more than you think you will now.

Your right brain will shrivel up to nothing and your left brain will explode. If you're doing 4 majors, you really might want to consider doing at least one in something... different. Medieval literature? German? Music? There's something to be said for a moderately well-rounded education.



This is pretty false. Tuition, first of all, is commonly charged statically per semester in the USA, especially in public universities. If you were referring to a different country, I apologize, but I'm going under the USA assumption here.

Secondly, it is entirely possible to graduate with Math, Physics, and EE within as little as 3 years in a standard curriculum observant college. The chemistry would be tricky, but I would definitely not put the minimum years above maybe 4 years, possible even as little as 3.

I am being entirely truthful when I say that I know of a guy who lives about two dorms away from me right now who is triple majoring Comp. Engi, Physics, and EE. He has been at university for two years and is on course to graduate at the end of this school year (that's 3 majors in only 3 years). He has never taken courses over the summers, which is where I think you could fit the chem major in - depending on what you're coming into college with. To do this kind of thing you need special permissions to take 24 hours or so per semester, but definitely within possible range.

Good luck! :)

PS: I do also disagree about the lack of social life. Studying or doing homework together in groups, meeting a ton of people in all the classes you'd have to take, and so on and so on would probably give you more than the usual amount of social time people are used to. Unless we're talking about social = party / drink / sex.

I do however agree about the scheduling nightmare. That will suck most amazingly.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby doogly » Sun Sep 05, 2010 4:54 am UTC

It also depends on how the university feels about double counting. At Dartmouth you could not do this, so even though some courses could be counted towards either a major in EE or physics, for example, you were not permitted to count them towards both. (Made my friend's astro and physics double major extra impressive - not at all possible with undergrad courses.) I have heard schools exist where this is not the case.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Kizyr » Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:09 pm UTC

Tyrankh wrote:This is pretty false. Tuition, first of all, is commonly charged statically per semester in the USA, especially in public universities. If you were referring to a different country, I apologize, but I'm going under the USA assumption here.

I do need to make one correction here. It depends on the university as to how tuition is charged. It's often charged statically within a specific band, and the status of the student often changes how things are charged. My undergrad university charged a static rate if you were taking 12-17 credit hours per semester--fewer than 12 and you were no longer full-time (in which case you were charged per credit-hour), more than 17 and you were charged at a per credit-hour rate over that amount (my undergrad school had a different rate for under-12 vs. over-17; my current grad school has the same rate for both). And, if you take any summer courses then those are all charged on a per credit-hour basis.

Plus, some universities will have the majors you want to do spread out across several colleges. Depending on each college's rules, you may need to fulfill different GCRs per school, some classes may double-count and others may not, etc. While there's a certain norm for public universities (as you stated), departments and colleges even within public universities have a lot of latitude as to how they make rules regarding double-counting courses, GCRs, etc.

The bottom-line is... while at some schools, a quad-major in highly related disciplines may be possible to do in under 4 years without going over whatever the standard full-time status is, at other schools the rules may make it impossible to do in anything under 6-7, or impossible to do without paying a ton for taking more than the standard courseload. KF
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:29 am UTC

Tyrankh wrote:This is pretty false. Tuition, first of all, is commonly charged statically per semester in the USA, especially in public universities. If you were referring to a different country, I apologize, but I'm going under the USA assumption here.


My experience is mostly in Canada. Students are typically charged by the course.

Tyrankh wrote:Secondly, it is entirely possible to graduate with Math, Physics, and EE within as little as 3 years in a standard curriculum observant college. The chemistry would be tricky, but I would definitely not put the minimum years above maybe 4 years, possible even as little as 3.


I think my experience here is more similar to doogly's. At the unis I've been to, you generally couldn't double count basically any courses. If you were doing a math/phys program, and there was a course that was a co-req for both, you would count it towards one major and have to take additional course to make up the credits in the other. This actually often made it easier to do double-majors in completely unrelated fields rather than scrambling to find extra credits in closely related ones.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby joy » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:48 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
mosiajam wrote:University is about more than academics. Losing out on the entire cultural experience of university by huddling in a pile of books all hours of the day would be tragic. An important part of the experience is the stuff that isn't in class--socializing with intelligent people from different walks of life, getting involved in clubs/sports/student societies/crazy drunken parties, etc. are all things that you will miss out on if you pursue this course of action. You may regret this later more than you think you will now.


There are the fun social things to think about, but also, don't forget that college is not just about showing up for classes, doing assigned hw, and then sneaking into bars.

You sound like you actually might want to do research, which means you actually want to get involved in a science department at your school. Get to know the teachers, ask to work with them, ask to do independent studies. This all takes time, and you can really only focus on one department.

I'd say do math because it looks good to grad schools and then try to narrow your focus a little more by next year.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby DorkRawk » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:02 pm UTC

Don't quadrupedal major. Even if you can get through it, you'll end up being "entry level" qualified for 4 things.

Some of the most important and career valuable things I learned during my undergrad (a single math/cs major) I learned doing projects outside of class. Also, if you spend all your doing doing school work you'll never gain any skills outside of school work. This will make it pretty hard to succeed outside of school. ALSO, part of going to college is about exposing yourself to new things (through new classes). Don't just take classes in what you think you're interested in at 18 years old. If you're taking classes for 4 majors you'll never have any exposure to anything outside of those subjects. You'll be a boring person. And, honestly, nobody really cares about your undergrad major 5 or so years into your career.

I'm guessing that you're smart, hard working, and ambitious. Don't squander that on some essentially meaningless badge of honor. If you're that smart and hard working the information offered to you in an undergrad major won't be enough and you'd be better off letting yourself explore fewer subjects in more detail and then going to grad school.

That said, I would do:
Computer Science
Cognitive Science
Philosophy
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby charolastra » Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:04 pm UTC

I almost triple majored, double minored but between studying abroad, graduating a semester early, internships, work, and picking up an environmental science minor in my last year of college, I only pulled off a double major, double minor.

In an ideal world (and based on what my college offered):
-International Studies
-Politics
-Latin American Studies (2 classes away from a major, grr)
-Environmental Science

Had I gone to a different school:
-International Studies
-Geology
-GIS
-Environmental Science

For the record, I specifically chose my college in order to accomplish this. I could have easily gotten a quad major if I hadn't taken classes I was purely interested in (I was one class away from a minor in both cultural anthropology and history) and did not study abroad. It was more cost effective to take 6 classes a semester than the recommended 4 (because we were charged per semester).

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Solt » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:47 am UTC

Dopefish wrote:and I very much believe that we we say quadruple majoring is 'silly', we're really just saying that it's a bad idea in a more polite manner.


In fact it's just dumb. You won't learn anything useful. There won't be any time to take electives, so you will only know the basics of each field. And no one is going to pay you money to know only the basics. They would pay if you proved you could synthesize it all... but with 4 degrees you won't have time to do projects or research of that sort.


If I could do it all over again and had plenty of time (did ME):

-Major in CS with a focus on Machine Learning, Computer Vision, and Robotics
-Minor in EE for the controls classes and for the math
-Take all the Dynamics classes from ME, as well as a controls class just to get a different perspective
-Double major in Molecular and Cellular Biology
-Take a class or two on neuroscience

Actually I'm conflicted over whether majoring in CS would have been a good idea. They've got really useful math but then there's crap I wouldn't care at all about like programming and algorithms.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Bakemaster » Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:29 am UTC

If you want to show people that you can excel in your undergrad, take one or two majors beyond the basic requirements of the curriculum. Throw in extracurriculars. Expand upon what's taught. Do projects outside of school that relate to the work you're actually studying. But don't dilute your academic record with meaningless xbox-style achievements.

Speaking as someone who worked for a while in the admissions office for one of the most respected and competitive graduate programs in the world: There is nothing more impressive or more desired by grad schools than a student who has good enough grades, who has taken considerable steps to bring his or her education outside of the classroom and beyond the curriculum, and who has excelled in doing so. I emphasize good enough because of the couple dozen students admitted to this program every year, most don't have a 4.0 GPA. And yet, more students applied to the program with a perfect GPA than the couple dozen slots available.

The moral of the story is, if you want to challenge yourself and impress the people who matter, pick a double major and start planning out exactly how you're going to take what you learn out of the classroom and start doing grown-up-people things with your life, before you graduate. Quadruple-majoring may get you the respect of a few of your peers, and it may feel like a notable achievement, but it's not worth whatever you think it's worth. What someone will see when they look at your transcript is a student who, despite their clear ability to do well in classes, didn't care enough about any of the subjects he was studying to take them somewhere special. It will do more harm than good even if you finish with a perfect GPA.
DorkRawk wrote:Don't quadrupedal major.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Meteorswarm » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:00 pm UTC

doogly wrote:It also depends on how the university feels about double counting. At Dartmouth you could not do this, so even though some courses could be counted towards either a major in EE or physics, for example, you were not permitted to count them towards both. (Made my friend's astro and physics double major extra impressive - not at all possible with undergrad courses.) I have heard schools exist where this is not the case.


I'm a double (maaaaaybe triple if it doesn't cost extra) major at Cornell in CS and biology; the way it works here is that, while there are college-wide* requirements, major requirements, and a minimum number of credits to graduate. None of the requirements interfere - I'm using courses from biology to count towards a "technical elective" requirement in CS, and they count for both majors, and I can use Asian studies classes to fulfill my college-wide liberal arts requirements, while counting those towards a major/minor.

I should note that I can only pull this off because I used more than a year's worth of AP credit to satisfy major requirements - while they don't advance me towards the minimum credit requirement, or fulfill college-wide pre-reqs, they don't make you take calculus again if your grade on the exam was sufficiently high. I do pay a cost, even still - There's simply no way for me to take all the detailed classes I'd like to, and I'm taking 5 full classes most semesters, plus research, so I'm pretty loaded with credits in the low 20s.

If I wanted to do a cross-college double major, though, then they don't allow such double-counting. Policies vary wildly across universities, and you really have to do your homework to see if your plans will work.

*There are several colleges within Cornell; I'm in Arts and Sciences, the liberal arts college, where the hard sciences, most social sciences, some biology, liberal studies, econ, fine arts, etc. live.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Yakk » Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:29 pm UTC

A lot of the advice above depends on where the student is going.

Go to a sufficiently easy university, pick sufficiently easy courses, and you can pull off ridiculous stuff if you have a strong work ethic and lots of talent at the subjects involved.

Now, engineering course loads tend to be ridiculous (as they have standards bodies that insists of large hour counts, last I checked). Science courses tend to have lots of labs. Both science and engineering tends to throw enough math at you that your head explodes. Good math courses of study tend to have brain-bending assignments to work on, and brain-bending material to study.

But the difference between universities isn't small. I audited a 4th year course at a different university in a work term in my 3rd year, and the speed of material, difficulty of assignments and exams was trivial compared to my home university.

If all of the courses where at that level of difficulty at the university (and I suspect it was the case), then doing a 3x or 4x major would be quite doable.

Of course, nobody would care that you did it, and evidence that you did it at the university would probably lower the readers estimation of the quality of the university rather than raise their estimation of you (barring attending a sufficiently famous one). And it would take up a significant amount of time -- assuming 2/3 of the courses in each major are non-overlapped, with an average course load of 3/term for 8 terms to fullfill major requirements, and the remaining courses are cross-listed to an average of 2 majors, we have an estimated per-term course load of 10. Engineering gets another course/term, because Engineering does that -- now at 11 courses. Both engineering and science get 1.5 labs/term -- 4.5 labs/term. Each course takes up 3 hours/week, and each lab takes up 6 hours/week. 11*3 + 4.5*6 = 60 hours of course and labs a week. Scheduling that isn't remotely possible.

At 8 hours/day of sleep and 2 hours/day of food and grooming (etc), that leaves you 14 hours/day. Over 5 week days, that is 70 hours/day. So you need to pack all non-eating, non-sleeping time with class and labs at a 86% efficiency during the week. This leaves you 2 hours/day to do homework.

We'll assume 3 hours/week of out of class work per class, and 2 hours/week of out of class work per lab. 42 hours per week. Of this, you consume 10 on weekdays, leaving you with 32 hours.

There are 14 hours of non-sleep non-eating on each weekend day, which leaves you 4 hours short per week.

Note that I haven't allocated any time for socialization. Or getting sick. Or travel.

Make the non-class work trivial, skip lots of classes, avoid courses with labs, and you have a "viable" plan.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Meteorswarm » Mon Nov 08, 2010 4:53 am UTC

Yakk wrote:sensible things


That's a good point; I was coming at this from the point of view of an ivy student in an engineering discipline.

Even here, if you picked your courses sensibly, you could get a quadruple major without too much extra effort.

For example, if you have AP micro and macro Econ, the Econ major is only 8 classes - it can be completed in two semesters. There are other majors that are similarly small; the only challenges would be making sure to cover your other non-major requirements and dealing with scheduling roulette, and you might even keep it to 4 courses a semester.

Of course, you'd have to major in some stuff you probably didn't care about, and nobody's going to hire you just because you did a quadruple major. I'm a double major because I'm deeply interested in both topics, not because I think it'll dramatically improve my chances of employment in either field (although CS + Bio leads to being really good at computational biology).
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Nov 29, 2010 2:04 am UTC

While quadruple majoring sounds like a terrible idea and I would never recommend it, I do no somebody who completed three majors (I think physics, math, and something else) at MIT by the end of his junior year. He was taking 16 classes a year.

So it is possible in theory (although your school probably won't allow it).

But yeah, don't do it.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Meteorswarm » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:27 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:While quadruple majoring sounds like a terrible idea and I would never recommend it, I do no somebody who completed three majors (I think physics, math, and something else) at MIT by the end of his junior year. He was taking 16 classes a year.

So it is possible in theory (although your school probably won't allow it).

But yeah, don't do it.


And my advisor tells me that someone here at Cornell once pulled off an octuple major, but they weren't even attending the majority of their classes. Bad idea, if you're a normal human being!
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:27 pm UTC

Meteorswarm wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:While quadruple majoring sounds like a terrible idea and I would never recommend it, I do no somebody who completed three majors (I think physics, math, and something else) at MIT by the end of his junior year. He was taking 16 classes a year.

So it is possible in theory (although your school probably won't allow it).

But yeah, don't do it.


And my advisor tells me that someone here at Cornell once pulled off an octuple major, but they weren't even attending the majority of their classes. Bad idea, if you're a normal human being!

Yeah, that's how you have to do it. You sign up for tons of classes you are pretty sure you already know, then only go to the midterms and finals. You can always reschedule testing conflicts.

I have another friend who is also currently taking a comparable number of classes at MIT (in fact, I think it is again 8 per semester) but he is actually attending every (or nearly ever) class. He's fucking crazy, though. He's gonna double-major at least.

I also don't know how you would fit in all the required labs.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Meteorswarm » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:20 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:Yeah, that's how you have to do it. You sign up for tons of classes you are pretty sure you already know, then only go to the midterms and finals. You can always reschedule testing conflicts.

I have another friend who is also currently taking a comparable number of classes at MIT (in fact, I think it is again 8 per semester) but he is actually attending every (or nearly ever) class. He's fucking crazy, though. He's gonna double-major at least.

I also don't know how you would fit in all the required labs.


I'm fairly certain that the octuple-major was in stuff that wasn't science, otherwise labs kill you.
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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:47 pm UTC

I single majored in materials science & engineering, but the way the course schedules were set up, even pulling a minor while working on an engineering degree would require either an extra semester (or more) or taking a large number of classes each semester (every engineering course pretty much had 15 credits required each semester assuming you didn't come in with any credits by AP or IB or whatever, but even those would only lighten the general education requirements), neither of which I cared to do. But that was the college of engineering. Majors in other colleges, such as liberal arts and sciences were more or less designed to allow students to get a second major or a minor or two if they so chose. The CLAS majors all had 30 credits of required major classes (often with choices in specific classes) plus 30 credits of "other" classes, meaning a second major could be picked up fairly easily (albeit sometimes more easily than others, like math and statistics degrees had a large amount of overlap if desired).

But if you can do it then go ahead, but make sure you're comfortable with it and don't be afraid to drop one or more (and in all reality, the EE major alone is going to overwhelm the other three due to the above mentioned standards body requirements).
Solt wrote:Actually I'm conflicted over whether majoring in CS would have been a good idea. They've got really useful math but then there's crap I wouldn't care at all about like programming and algorithms.

No joke: I have a friend who went to a different university as me and started as a CS and math major and eventually switched to math and economics since CS was too much about programming. It depends on the university, I suppose.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby gigogurl » Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:03 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
Meteorswarm wrote:
Eebster the Great wrote:While quadruple majoring sounds like a terrible idea and I would never recommend it, I do no somebody who completed three majors (I think physics, math, and something else) at MIT by the end of his junior year. He was taking 16 classes a year.

So it is possible in theory (although your school probably won't allow it).

But yeah, don't do it.


And my advisor tells me that someone here at Cornell once pulled off an octuple major, but they weren't even attending the majority of their classes. Bad idea, if you're a normal human being!

Yeah, that's how you have to do it. You sign up for tons of classes you are pretty sure you already know, then only go to the midterms and finals. You can always reschedule testing conflicts.

I have another friend who is also currently taking a comparable number of classes at MIT (in fact, I think it is again 8 per semester) but he is actually attending every (or nearly ever) class. He's fucking crazy, though. He's gonna double-major at least.

I also don't know how you would fit in all the required labs.


It's actually not that hard to fit in the requirements for several majors into four years at MIT - my fiance was able to draft up a plan that would fill the requirements for Comp Sci, Management, Math, and Economics in four years (taking at most six classes in a semester, usually he took five, which is a pretty reasonable load) - he ended up graduating a semester early as a double major double minor, since MIT doesn't award more than two bachelors degrees anyways, but it's not as ridiculous as you guys seem to think it is to fulfill degree requirements for lots of majors (especially if they overlap) - it just means you have to work hard, be strategic about double-counting, and not take anything that doesn't count for at least one of your majors. Of course, chances are the OP's school won't actually award them four degrees, so I don't know if there's really a point, but that's for the OP to decide.

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Re: Quadruple majoring

Postby Meteorswarm » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:06 pm UTC

The point of a multi-major isn't necessarily multiple degrees - at Cornell, you have to do a lot of extra work to get multiple degrees but they give you double (or more) majors on your (singular) diploma without issue.
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