Electives: Tips for Students

These courses are chosen by students based on their interests. Elective classes are additional classes that might count students’ degrees but might not be directly related to their degree programs. There’re three different types of electives students can take in college. These include:

General education electives: General education requirements generally include a portion of elective credits, in which students can choose how they’d like to meet a specific requirement.

Free electives: These electives have no obvious relation to students’ minor, major, or a particular general education requirement. Instead, these are designed for students who want to graduate with a well-rounded education and meet general credit requirements.

Area of study electives: Most majors and minors require a specific number of elective credits. These fall under students’ programs but aren’t specific requirements for completing the degrees. For instance, a bachelor’s in psychology might offer elective choices like the psychology of science fiction and the psychology of corporate culture. Students can also use these electives to take classes to get prepared for certain career paths.

Students may consider the following tips when choosing electives in college.

·         Students should balance courses depending on topic and difficulty level when creating their class schedule. They should prioritize general education requirements before filling up the schedule with electives. As the majority of students need to take the same general education classes, they can be more difficult to get into during the first few years.

·         For undecided students, electives may be a tool for discovering potential majors while completing their general education requirements. Introductory courses often serve as electives and can give an overview of the subject. Students with varied interests may take 101 classes in subjects such as journalism, statistics, psychology, finance, and geology as exploratory electives.

·         Students may consult an academic advisor to identify the best electives for their specific educational journey and career goals. An advisor may also help them find courses to improve their weaker academic areas. For instance, a business major may wish to take a writing elective to learn how to communicate business ideas and craft proposals.

·         Students should consider their class format because it can impact their workload, schedule, and experience. They should consider whether the elective is a seminar or a lecture, which will impact their interaction with professors and fellow classmates and the participation expectations. If an elective is a laboratory class, that may mean an additional class each week for lab work.

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