The Nerd’s Word: Be Selective with Your Electives

Trying to decide what electives to take in college can be difficult. And whenever you try to ask someone his or her opinion, the usual response is to take what you like. That advice may work for some classes, but not for all of them. If you haven’t already taken, for instance, a sociology class, how are you going to know if you like it?  While you may have electives within your major (in some majors you have to take a certain number of prescribed, or required, classes, with two or three electives within the major as long as it’s a course within your field) many programs leave room for a certain number of free electives. These credits basically mean you can take pretty much anything you want. While your college may stipulate exactly what the boundaries on your electives are, many give you free reigns: in other words, the electives you take are up to you.  The main purpose of free electives is to give college students an opportunity to explore, but where to turn first?  Allow the Nerd to navigate you through the uncharted territory of choosing the best electives to suit your college experience.

1. Choose by professor. If you’ve taken a class with a certain professor and really liked them, see what else they teach. Maybe you liked their personality or their teaching style. Maybe you thought they were funny or friendly. Whatever it was, if you liked one class with them, it is likely you will enjoy another.

2. Choose by your future plans. Think about what you might do for a career and what courses might help you in that. If you are an early childhood education major and want to run your own childcare, look into take a course in business or accounting. It probably isn’t required for your major, but it will be beneficial for you.

3. Choose by your interest area. Always wanted to learn about photography? Art? Modern dance? Sign language? Go for it. This may be your only opportunity to take courses in an area of interest while you are able to. In a few years, you may live in a town where you can’t take a course in African history. If it sounds interesting, do it now.

4. Choose by your friends’ opinions. Figure out what classes your friends have enjoyed. Ask around. Now, don’t ask just anyone. Find people who you feel share your interests and attitudes about learning. If your friend Johnny doesn’t go to class or study, and he says that Humanities was way too hard, I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out.

5. Choose by easiness. I don’t always put this at the top of my list of elective-choosing priorities, however if you are a student who is struggling to maintain a decent grade point average, picking an easy class is not a bad idea. Also, choosing an easy elective might allow you to spend more time and effort on classes that count toward your major.

Another trick…if you need to take one elective, register for two (if this is possible in your situation and at your college) classes and go to both for the first session. Then decide what seems more appealing. There is usually no penalty for dropping a course the first week of class, although you will want to double check at your school.  Take the time to explore your options; get in touch with your school’s Registrar’s office or your adviser and find out what elective possibilities are available to you. Get out there and take hold of the opportunities of elective credits and enjoy all the benefits of your college education.  Next week, the Nerd focuses on why you should take full advantage of your campus career center.

Tags : Career GoalsDifficultyEasinessElectivesFuture PlansInterestProfessor