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Selecting Wise Electives: Avoid Mistakes Most Make

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Enrolling in general requirement courses are easy, when they’re available, so they need no second thought when deciding to take them. The only concern is whether or not they are available when they need to be taken. This is especially aggravating with freshmen, many of whom have to take the same course(s) at the same time when seating is limited. The real challenge, though, comes about when deciding which electives to take, usually during the last two years of an undergrad term. This is because the electives sought can be either wise or unwise, depending on why they are picked for a particular degree. Students should be careful and put a lot of thought behind their choices because such choices are important and could influence what type of job the students might acquire in the future.

Interest alone isn’t enough; strategic selection also plays a role. One example would be for the students to obtain a sense of well-roundedness. Although a tight focus reflects strength in a desired area of study, the off-color course quite often serves a vital purpose in adding value to the degree. Why? The reason is that many employers like employment prospects that are well-rounded. Furthermore, the more diverse the course selections, the better prepared for a broader range of jobs. For example, an art Major who takes a course in agriculture might find interest in a position as an environmentalist, in which both skills in both art and agriculture may put into practice.

Another determination behind whether or not an elective is a wise choice is the uniqueness of the course. Consider the distinction between courses entitled, say, Introduction to Agriculture and Agriculture and the Law. The former infers general knowledge of the subject—which is good—but the latter suggests specific knowledge dealing with the legal ramifications of agriculture and how that affects production, packaging and distribution. This uniqueness will most likely stand out to employers in professions that deal with the law.

Then, of course, there is the level of complicatedness that a course holds. Many young students like to take what are called “blow off” courses, which are those they consider so easy that studying and work are minimal, but these are sometimes less favorable to said employers, many of who can see the lack of challenge involved and perceive the [ex-]students as shying away from a challenge and therefore lacking promise. For this reason, students are encouraged to take more intriguing courses as electives. Believe it or not, they will pay off in one way or another when come time to find a job.

Yet, the arrangement of courses itself per semester makes a difference, too, despite the appropriateness of the courses involved. If the workload between the courses is too heavy, burn out will occur and lower grades might result. Just the right courses should be taken at the same time. Before enrolling in any courses, the students should learn as much about the classes and what they will entail. If this is not impossible, they should have backup courses ready to fill in so that, after the first week or two, class changes can be made, hopefully with minimal difficulty.

Undergraduates and graduates both are not capable of taking every possible course, as there are just too many from which to choose. A little forethought, however, can help students set up just the right schedule to accommodate their personal and career needs.

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