General or free electives give college or university students the opportunity to take classes that spark and satisfy their interests. Whether these electives are additional courses in your degree program or some other area of interest, such as music or art, these slots can be filled with electives that push you outside your comfort zone and open you up to new experiences. For example, you could take a theatre arts course to help with shyness, self-esteem issues, or social anxiety.
Most colleges and universities offer a huge number of electives, so narrowing your list of options may be a little overwhelming. Streamline your search with some of the tips below:
Formally or Informally Audit Potential Classes
This is a tip that only works during or after the first semester, but it’s still a viable strategy for choosing electives. If you’re curious but unsure about an elective, you could audit the course – formally or informally. To formally audit a course, you must apply with your college or university. Upon approval, you will be able to ‘sit in’ on, and even participate in, the class. You decide when to attend the course lectures and how much time to spend in the class or on coursework. Formally audited courses will also appear on your transcript with no bearing on your grade point average (GPA). To perform an informal audit, ask a professor privately to ‘sit in’ on their lectures. Most will be welcoming and allow this form of auditing. The entire process can be looked at like touring an off-campus apartment, such as Fanshawe College housing, before moving in.
Consider Your Interests and Major
For ideas on electives to take, look at your own interests and your major. For example, if you’re interested in the solar system, consider taking an astronomy course. Classes that match your interests offer major benefits, including providing relief from your normal academic schedule. You should also look for courses that fit your major or components of your major or future career. Most majors are multi-faceted and offer interesting and exciting courses that can be taken as electives. In fact, some electives are tailored for certain majors. It could also be beneficial to take electives that can help you build ‘soft’ skills for your future career. Humanities courses are advantageous to business majors, while statistics courses are advantageous to social science majors.
Choose Your Electives Early
The best electives will go quickly, so be decisive and choose your electives as early as possible. If you don’t, you will have to choose from the ‘leftovers.’ Leftover courses are those most students don’t want to take because they’re notoriously mundane or difficult. Don’t let this happen to you. Choose courses that match your interests or that are highly recommended. For advice, check out online student forums, chat with former students or current upperclassmen, and ask your academic advisor for recommendations. Most academic advisors know which electives are popular or what will work well with your schedule. Besides, choosing your courses well before the semester begins leaves plenty of time to switch to others if your interests change.