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When I came into college, I was dead set on what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to major in Education and minor in History. It was a logical choice (in my mind) for a high school history teacher. Of course, two years, seven majors, and three minors later, I’m a Sociology major with a possible minor in Film Studies. And I say possible because I’m not really sure what the point of a minor really is. Especially with my major being so different from my potential minor. Sure, I’m interested in Film, but I’m not planning on pursuing a career in the Film Industry – so am I wasting my time? These were my thoughts during a conversation with a friend and colleague recently. After hearing my situation, she recommended a certificate program in leadership and service, knowing that I had a passion for leadership and service and that I was interested in student affairs.

Certificate program? I wasn’t really sure about that. Aren’t those advertised on the infomercials playing during the breaks of Conan O’Brien and Saturday Night Live? I didn’t even know UGA had those – I thought it was strictly a two-year university kind of thing. I did some research and I didn’t have to look very far. There was a list of certificates on the UGA bulletin. I read a little about the Interdisciplinary Certificate in Leadership and Service and it seemed like a perfect fit for me. In the description, it mentions courses from 6 different areas including psychology, sociology, management and efforts from 5 different colleges/campus units including the College of Education, and Student Affairs – all of which were either involved with one of my seven majors/three minors. It seemed like a perfect fit for me. While I haven’t started on the curriculum yet, I’m really excited about the program and I can’t believe I didn’t know about it before. Here are some reasons to look into a certificate program:

(1) Certificate programs are interdisciplinary. Minors generally cover just one field, while certificates include courses from all over the university. This allows for a more diverse educational background and more experiences to talk about and to build off of.

(2) They are more specific in nature than minors. One of my problems with choosing a minor was that I felt like it wouldn’t really get me anywhere. With a certificate program, it’s much easier to put your finger on the purpose of taking the extra 15 or 18 hours.

(3) They are less common than minors. Not everyone knows that certificates are an option. Many people minor just because they think that you have to have one major and one minor, or if you’re ambitious, bump your minor up to a double major. Not true. UGA has a very diverse group of certificates to choose from and you’re sure to find one that is relevant to you. Be sure to talk about your certificate and its significance during an interview so you stick out.

(4) It’s easy to complement your major or to develop and show your interests. Maybe you’re a management major, but what you really want to do is work for a record label. Well management seems like a good position if you want to work in the corporate side of the business, but how do you convey that to employers? A music business certificate would be perfect. Make sure employers know your reasoning and your interest behind the certificate – it shows your dedication and your passion for a particular subject.

(5) They cover things that may have been left out of your major. My sociology classes talk a lot about race, socioeconomic status, gender, etc., but none of them talk about these things in relation to individuals and how to teach and train them. That’s where a certificate in leadership and service could come in handy.

(6) It allows you to stay ahead of the curve. Grady offers a New Media certificate which is becoming fairly popular for those journalism majors who want a competitive job right after graduation. While a field may be developing too rapidly or it’s a new field for the university or just in general, certificates provide a plug into a topic without being too extensive.

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