As the school year begins, many of us settle into our classes, equipped and ready to learn more about whatever it is that interests us the most. Depending on what program you are in, you may be coming back this year already knowing that your semesters will be more of the same stuff, as you prepare for that career as a nurse, engineer, or businessperson.
When you go to academic advising and try to figure out your courses, there is sometimes a big looming space to fill up with electives. For some people electives are fun, and if you are unsure about what you want to do with your life they are the best way to really figure out what your interests are. For many people however, choosing electives can be hard: especially for those who are unfamiliar with courses outside of their department. Some people are looking for something that really interests and engages them, while others are seeking a “bird course” to help boost their GPA. Luckily for you there are tons of cool options to fill those elective boxes. Here are a few suggestions to make your process a little smoother and a lot more fun.
History of Photography:
This 200 level course has no prerequisite, and teaches you a lot more than just photography. History of Photography teaches students what it means to document historical events. It explores technological advances and discusses a lot of social issues in relation to how they were documented throughout time. This course considers photography as a medium for art and its extraordinary power in constructing the world around us. It’s actually super interesting.
DifficultyLevel: Medium- Be ready for some memorization work and two papers
Women and Gender Studies 100:
This is my major, so I am super biased - but Women and Gender Studies 100 really is a fantastic course. People (especially men) often shy away from taking it, because they feel as if it is more directed towards women, when in fact Women and Gender Studies talks a bit about everything. You learn much more than just how gender binaries affect the world in which we live. The class also discusses the challenges surrounding race, religion, ability, sexuality, ableism, privilege and oppression, and how these identities interact with each other. The best part about studying Women and Gender is that you do not need any background knowledge, other than your own life. Discussions are fun, because everyone has had life experiences related to the topics being discussed.
Difficulty Level: Medium/High - This course is full of very abstract and fascinating ideas. The work load is challenging however, with papers and essay-based exams being very important to final grades
As an Arts student who is used to reading and writing, taking a class like Economics really allowed me to learn in a different way. Economics 100 is great, because it teaches you the basics about how the economy works, and how it affects your life and the lives of those around you. Testing is all multiple choice, and there is not much extra work that has to be done, except the odd quiz, midterm and final exam. There is some simple math involved, which is kind of fun if you’re not used to using that part of your brain.
Difficulty Level: Easy/Medium- There is not a whole lot of responsibility in this course, other than applying yourself and trying to grasp the material. There are also lots of awesome tutorials to help you out if you’re just not getting it.
History of Popular Music
For my all-time favorite elective we have History of Popular Music. This class only runs once a week in the evenings and it is super fun. Whether you are a total music junky or just curious about different eras of the industry, History of Popular Music is a very informative and relaxing class. Nothing quite like kicking back, relaxing and watching a documentary on The Doors and getting credit for it. This class is typically half lecture (which are often quite entertaining and sometimes a little raunchy) and half movie time. You learn about everything from the birth of the radio to the nitty gritty of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Not a bad way to spend a weeknight, if you ask me.
Difficulty: Easy/Medium- You have to make sure you actually go to class and pay attention because all testing is multiple choice, so you have to know your facts.
Whatever you decide, make sure to really dig and find something that you think will interest you personally, as there are really tons to choose from. You may never again have a chance to take a class on something completely out of your element, so take the plunge and have fun with it. Be willing to put in a little work, because you never know what you could discover about yourself along the way.