Universities and colleges offer a staggering amount of classes. But when you’re in a specific program or pursuing a certain major, there’s always a list of mandatory courses you need to take to meet your degree’s graduation criteria.
While there are going to be lots of classes you have to take, there’s also going to be some space for your electives. These are classes that you get to handpick, and there are many reasons why you should take at least one class that doesn’t relate to your major 100% .
Don’t cram your schedule full of science-related classes if you’re a chemistry major (just yet)—here’s why you should get creative with your electives.
1. You’ll Broaden Your Worldview
There is so much knowledge in the world, and when you’re in post-secondary school, knowledge of all sorts is at your fingertips. Don’t confine yourself to one field. It’s awesome that your passion is studying economics, but why not try a creative writing or art history course? Different subjects entail different learning strategies, and taking a few interesting courses outside your main study could make you super well-rounded and have you thinking more openly about education.
2. You’ll Get Better at Your Job
Taking one or two classes outside of your major could help you in the real world immensely. Many positions require skills from a variety of disciplines—for example, jobs in public relations rely heavily on skills obtained from psychology classes. Even being a doctor requires people skills, which can be better grasped in sociology classes as opposed to science classes. Employers need someone who has a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills.
3. You’ll Discover Hidden Interests
It’s never too late to discover a passion. I knew I loved writing at a very young age, so I was stoked when I got accepted into a communications program. I once took a criminology class as one of my electives instead of another editing course; I’d always been mildly interested in law and crime (mostly because I watched Judge Judy regularly). I enjoyed the class so much that I chose to take advanced criminology courses in my third year, and I’ve even considered law school..
“I’m assuming you’re all in police studies or social work?” The professor asked on the first day of that class.
“Uh… no,” I thought to myself. Little did he know I was a humble communications student with a simple penchant for all things legal.
Don’t be scared to venture into new territory. Like, for real. That one class you never thought you’d take could become your favourite one.
4. You’ll Vibe With Others
Taking some out-of-the-box classes is really going to help you relate to people and their worlds. Is my knowledge that some cultures still rely on cultivating their own food going to help me in a job interview? Probably not, but because I took one anthropology course, I know more about the varying customs and traditions that are found all over the world. I’m more understanding of others and I feel like I “get things” more. Now that’s what I call useful.
5. You’ll Learn Practical Skills
10 Worthwhile Electives Students Wish They Took makes some excellent points. Take a finance class to learn how to do your own taxes, or maybe a public speaking class so you don’t get nervous when you have to do presentations. There are so many opportunities to increase all the soft skills that you’ll probably be using for the rest of your life inside and outside of work, so jump on those. It doesn’t matter what profession you’re going into; an education that encourages pragmatism can help you succeed immensely in all of your endeavours, not just your career goals.
6. You’ll Have Fun
School is stressful even when you love what you’re doing. There are going to be several required classes that you’ll dread going to, so don’t be afraid to take the edge off a bit with courses you legitimately enjoy. Yes, you should choose your classes carefully, but your electives should be fun! Maybe you were among the few who liked reading Shakespeare in high school—there are lots of advanced university English courses that focus specifically on Shakespeare and his work. Why not take one? Make your university experience interesting with at least one exhilarating class.
It’s a good idea to talk to your student advisor before taking electives so you can ensure that your courses will be the right fit for you. Just don’t be afraid to pick something that isn’t your usual cup of tea. Explore your options. Drink many cups of tea. And remember to enjoy them.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.