PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Pursuing two or more degrees at the same time has become a trend for Cambodian students. This practice has brought to light the benefits of specialization vs. professional multi-tasking, the challenges involved and even the compatibility of double degrees.
The university journey is a stage where students open up new chapters in their lives. If the decisions along the way are good ones, there will be joyful and memorable experiences to treasure. Conversely, wrong choices can lead to academic or professional disappointment.
Education Ministry spokesman Ros Salin, commenting on this trend, advised that choosing several majors may not be as effective as one explicit major.
He explained that students should choose a specific major to fit with their natural talents and the needs of the job market. They should also bear in mind government policy aimed at the future development of the country, so they are likely to have employment options once they graduate.
However, in addition to one major specialization, it is strongly recommended that students have English as their second language. In short, they should concentrate on one area of professional specialization, rather than two majors which they may not fully-master and also gain proficiency in the English language.
Students pursuing two degrees at the same time, however, viewed this trend differently according to their personal experiences and perspectives.
What the students think
Rom Molyka, a two-degree student majoring in International Relations and Media Management, said that she has chosen two majors because “both are her favorite.” However, she says that she faced a lot of challenges on her academic journey.
“Holding two degrees, I don’t expect to get good grades, since I hardly find enough time to study or focus on each subject. What is worse is when exams from both schools fall on the same day,” she said. “However, I find that I have a broader knowledge and different perspective to view things, compared with one-degree students.”
Ms. Molyka ended by saying, “Nothing’s greater than one’s will. If they know what they want, then for sure they can manage to complete anything.”
Sithy Rath Daravuth, currently an undergraduate majoring in International Studies and Economics, encouraged everyone to not jump on the multiple-degree bandwagon in Cambodia.
“As a double-degree student, I have less time for traveling, families, volunteering or other priorities. Secondly, I have issues with finding my inner specialty. In this regard, I don’t know my aptitudes really well. Lastly, I need to double my expenses on studies,” he said.
He advised that students should choose a university degree that is their “number one preference,” and devote a huge amount of their efforts to that degree. They should also be goal-focused and persistent before entering any university.
Hum Sophoanvotey, age 20, is another double-degree student majoring in Economics and English Literature. She says she is doing fine with her two majors.
“Both of my degrees somehow complement each other. I can improve Economics with help from the English language, and I know myself that even if I study one major, I would still waste my free time anyway.”
Som Ratana, Director of the Department of Media and Communication at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, thinks that doing one degree well is enough.
“In order to obtain one Bachelor’s [Degree], there are many minor subjects provided. Therefore, concentrating and focusing on those subjects is already enough to be expert on their skill,” he added.
Commenting on the trend, president of the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia Sok Piseth also supports Cambodian students selecting and focusing on just one specific major. In addition, he recommends adding English language skills by enrolling in extra classes that don’t necessarily contribute to a degree.
“If they have a specific professional skill, they would not chase work, but the work would chase them,” he added.
In the end though, after weighing up the pros and cons, it remains a decision for each student.