Not all of the classes you choose will be based on a set list that will fulfill the requirements of your major. Part of the fun of college (and we hope you’ll agree) is having some flexibility in choosing college classes you’re interested in. Whether you’re looking at the general education requirements you’re expected to take or interested in taking a class “just because” to round out a difficult semester or meet your credit hour requirements, you have a lot of options when it comes to college electives. So take the opportunity to be a little choosy, and pick those classes that will meet your personal goals.
General Education Requirements
General education courses are considered the core classes you’re expected to take. These are classes that your college hopes will expand your knowledge outside of your field of study and allow you to learn skills that you wouldn’t had you not been forced to take classes outside of your major. The courses typically have a liberal arts focus, and will include classes in fields such as sociology and the language arts. Most schools will also require some technology or math-related coursework out of you even if you think you won’t need them. Make the most of these requirements. The skills you learn in those classes could come in handy later on.
Many colleges are flexible in terms of how you fulfill general education requirements. Some of the classes you take may even count toward the classes you need to fulfill for your major. If you’re interested in graduating early or are simply uninterested in taking many classes outside of your major, talk to the advisers in your department or consult your course catalog to determine which courses will meet your college goals. Some schools are even doing away with general education requirements or replacing them with courses aimed at expanding students’ access to life and professional skills, so make sure you know what’s expected of you before course registration day comes.
Courses Outside Your Field of Study
There are classes out there that will be natural fit with your major, but won’t be required as part of that major’s course curriculum. If you’re in a design program that has a focus on the art side of the field, but you’re interested in owning your own business some day, it’s probably a smart move to look into a business or accounting class or two to expand your knowledge. If you’re a business student who wants to be as marketable as possible, take a writing course to improve your written communication skills or a web design class to boast computer skills on your resume. Thinking this way also looks good to potential employers down the line, as it shows your initiative to think outside the box and make yourself a better-rounded candidate. Think about those courses that will make the required courses in your major even more relevant. And if you need some help determining which courses may be useful down the road, consult with your school’s career center or professors in the classes you’re taking toward your major.
If you’ve taken all of your required courses or are taking an especially tough semester with some time-consuming classes, it may not be a bad idea to find an easier course to meet your credit hour requirement. We’re not saying you should always choose the easy option, but if you’ve been struggling for several semesters straight, a class you’re more likely to do well may help boost a weak GPA. (At most schools, you need to maintain a certain GPA to remain at that school, so depending on your grades, that “easy A” may be a no-brainer for you.) Choosing an easier class that helps you stay in school is then a pretty good option.
So how do you find these GPA boosters? Some may be recommended to you word-of-mouth. But you may need to do some research on your own. Pull out that course catalog (or browse through it online) to see exactly what your college has to offer. Do you have an interest in art or music but aren’t majoring in either? A kinesiology class in a sport you do well in and enjoy is always a good option, or an acting class if you’ve always been interested in theater but are majoring in architecture. The easiest “A” will be in a class you know you’ll enjoy, in a field you know you already have some mastery in. It’s fine to have a little fun in a class once in a while, in between working hard to make good grades in your major classes, of course.