Setting: a microbiology lecture about pandemics.
Protagonist: me, an arts major with no business being there.
Outcome: learned some things, mostly about myself.
The little scene above is a glimpse into how my academic journey has been so far. I have quite literally followed my interests from classroom to classroom. While completing an interdisciplinary major, taking a variety of electives, and sitting in on random lectures, I have embraced my frolicky academic habits. Course-hopping my way through university is how I can make the most of my degree. This advice may not be useful to everyone. These are just the confessions of an academic course-hopper.
The main difference between degree requirements and electives is that the former are “required” based on your program while the latter allow you more freedom to fill up your degree. Either way, you need both to fulfill your credits and graduation requirements. Even if these extra courses are not related to your major, their value lies in how you use them.
So done with degree requirements
Degree requirements can be annoying if you are not interested in studying things outside of your major. But they can be useful if you are not sure about your program and want to explore different fields. Whatever the case, make sure you get them out of the way as soon as possible so you do not miss graduation requirements. Learning from the experience of a friend who had to add another year to his degree because he avoided all his degree requirements, I am trying to get them out of the way as soon as possible.
If you are focused on your major, it is still beneficial to complete degree requirements as soon as you can. This is because you may not be interested in them and may not work as hard for them. They might be easy, but if you are disinterested, it will reflect on your grades for the class. It is always better to get your bad grades out of the way in the first few years rather than later, especially if you are applying to graduate school when GPAs matter much more.
Fun elective? More like future specialization
Electives can be super helpful in adding specializations to your program. For example, if you are majoring in psychology and take electives in math, statistics or data science, these courses might help you build a skillset for quantitative methods and research analysis. Or if you are majoring in economics and take electives in management, sociology, or psychology, you might develop a skillset for behavioural economics.
Fun elective? More like future soft skills
Electives do not always have to complement your major. They can be fun breaks from the monotony of your major or easy GPA boosters. They can also be useful skills you can use elsewhere in life. Consider an introductory programming course or a Photoshop class or creative writing or even a language course to help you explore interests and add useful skills to your resume.
The Cheat Sheet
If you feel unsure about your academic path, want to explore things that would complement your program, or just want to see what else is out there, this cheat sheet might be for you.
Here is a compilation of electives you might be interested in, based on your major:
If you are in this program
Try these electives
|Computer Science, Math, Physics, Engineering,||Design, Philosophy, Statistics|
|Psychology||Biology, Philosophy, Sociology|
|English, Languages, Journalism||Modern languages, Philosophy, Sociology, Cultural Studies|
|Fine Arts, Design, Media Studies||Business, Management, Introductory Computer Science, Literature|
|Politics, Sociology, History, Philosophy||Economics, English, Statistics, Cultural Studies|
|Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science||Psychology, Statistics, Geography|
|Business, Accountancy, Finance, Management||English, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Psychology|
|Geography, Anthropology||Biology, History, Environmental Science|
|Economics||Psychology, Management, Politics, Sociology|
Check out websites like RateMyProfessors and www.ubcgrades.com to get a better idea of what to expect from different classes before making a decision. RateMyProfessors allows students to post anonymous reviews of their professors in different schools and courses. The reviews might be biased based on the grades they received, so keep an open mind. UBCGrades compiles grade averages of all the courses offered at UBCO and UBCV to give you a better perspective on the nature of the course.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sanaa Shaikh is a second-year international student from India. She is studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with a minor in Spanish. Sanaa loves spontaneous trips, petting small animals, and starting new projects that she’ll never finish. Her favourite thing to do in Kelowna is getting ice cream downtown and chilling by the marina.