College is supposed to be the time to explore your interests and find something you’re passionate about that is applicable to a career in some way. With required courses in majors and general university credits, it can be difficult to make time for exploring things outside of your area of study. Obviously the classes for your major will be of value to you and your career down the line, but if you find yourself with free electives to take, consider choosing one of these six types of classes.
1. Classes Related to Your Hobbies
Making time to do things you enjoy is hard with a packed college schedule. The easiest thing you can do to find time is to use your elective credits to take classes related to your hobby. Even if you’ve never tried a certain hobby but have always wanted to, this would be the perfect time to give it a go.
2. Some Variation of a Social Justice or Women’s Studies Class
While college environments strive to be a place to explore your interests, it should also be a place where students go to expand their worldview. Depending on your school, taking some kind of social justice, diversity or women and gender studies class can be a great way to do that.
Many people who take these classes are genuinely interested in learning more about experiences different from their own. As cliché as it might be, many students leave these classes feeling more educated on real-world issues. Even if you fancy yourself well-versed in social issues already, you can always learn something new or learn to consider a new point of view different from your own. Plus, lots of these classes are primarily discussion-based, so the homework is usually more manageable compared to others.
3. The Wild Card Class
When you think of all the things you’re interested in, is there one thing that seems completely out of left field? Something you could never actually see yourself trying but it’s always somehow sitting in the back of your head? This is the time to do it. You’ll either end up enjoying it and have a new skill or hobby, or you won’t like it and you’ll never have to wonder again if it’s up your alley.
Lots of universities have a catalog of all the classes they offer, and many students are surprised to discover classes they had no idea even existed, let alone at their school. For example, my school has scuba diving as a class, which is still wild to me. See what types of uncommon classes your school might have and even if you hate it, it’s still an interesting conversation topic.
4. A College-Preparedness Class
If you’re a first year and feel overwhelmed by the switch from high school to college, try looking for classes that have a seminar-type setup where the focus is how to succeed in college. Professors and advisors are there to help, and taking a semester or a portion of a semester to go through college essentials can help ease the transition.
These types of electives will often address things like study tips, time management practices and other good resources for your first year in college. Not everyone feels that they need the extra push, but a little extra guidance can be a huge help if you find yourself stuck.
5. A “Real Adult Things” Class
As with first years, students nearing the end of college often feel clueless about how “adult” things like taxes and mortgages work. Some schools will offer classes regarding financial literacy and personal finance that touch on a lot of these areas. While it might be a snooze if you don’t get lucky with your professor, you’ll be better for it if you can retain all the important information.
This is an especially good choice if you’re close to graduation but don’t quite feel prepared to take on that stage of your life. Even if you still don’t know everything, at least being prepared in one area can make the transition into post-grad life a little easier. And you won’t have to text your parents to ask them how to do “adult” things quite as much.
6. Go Further Than the Minimum Requirements
Listen, as a college senior, I know how it goes. Once you finish up your required classes for a specific part of your degree, it’s very tempting to stop there and start moving on to other things. But some requirements can be really good for rounding you out as a person if you go further with them.
Typically, most schools require two to three semesters of a foreign language. If you have a good grasp of the language and don’t totally hate your classes, take more of the classes they have. A lot of college students might not have another chance to learn a language as easily as on their campus. And having a second or third language under your belt can make you not only an impressive job candidate after graduation, but just a more interesting human in general.
Another common requirement for graduation is a physical education class. This usually fills students with dread, and rightfully so if you’re not already in pretty good shape. But, if you get in shape because it’s literally required of you, it’s much easier to keep that habit later on since you’ve already had it instilled in you through class.
Consider picking up an elective physical education class that focuses on a specific type of exercise you enjoy, like yoga or weightlifting. That way, you’re staying in shape and building on your progress from your other class, and you’re filling up your schedule with a class that’s probably not as much homework as others.
The world is your oyster when it comes to free electives. Instead of dreading them, make the most of your time in college by venturing outside of your major to try something new. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your next obsession.