College Corner: An Academic Tutor's Tips on Course Selection

Posted by Sophie Pauze on 8/26/13 10:16 AM

college academics

As the semester begins, many students find themselves taking classes outside their main academic track, wondering the relevance of these courses that may not directly relate to their major.

In considering your college academics and course selection, remember that taking an interdisciplinary or elective course can be useful in many ways.

1. Get a fresh perspective on your academics.

Working with unfamiliar professors or taking a course in a new area can help you to think critically about what you are studying. Looking at the subject material from the perspective of a different form of academic thinking can help you develop a deeper understanding of your coursework. Getting a new perspective on your studies can help you to avoid burnout and fatigue with your studies.

2. Learn helpful career tips.

Employers like to see well-rounded students who will be able to think in different ways and be able to learn new tasks quickly. Being able to demonstrate experience mastering new material will help set you apart from other candidates.

3. Find a new passion.

An elective lets you explore new topics without committing to that path as a major. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn German or pick-up the fundamentals of computer science – taking additional courses helps you find topics that interest you without committing to that subject as a major. Whether you may take the course as an elective credit, as a fun way to fill your course schedule, as a potential major change, or as a minor to enhance your degree, college is a great opportunity to explore your interests.

4. Gain a new subset of important study skills.

Different subject areas can teach a variety of important skills, from critical thinking to creative problem solving. Whether you’re learning key interpersonal skills or public speaking techniques, new areas of study may focus on different skills than your main degree focus and provide a new learning opportunity.

5. Expand your horizons.

Taking interdisciplinary courses or classes outside your major track can help you broadly explore new ideas and opportunities. Being able to think abstractly and come up with out-of-the-box solutions will be helpful in your future studies or career.

When you are required to take elective credits or have the opportunity to fill your schedule in with other courses, consider taking classes outside your specific major. Talking with your academic advisor will help you explore your options and get you out of your academic comfort zone.

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Tags: study skills, college