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What’s the Purpose of College Electives?

College electives: Classes that have nothing to do with your major and often seem kind of frivolous in nature.

Why take them at all?

The short answer: It’s college, that’s why.

Taking college electives is a luxury that comes around infrequently in life (maybe only once). It’s not often you can learn about something simply because it interests you. Take advantage while you can.

But there’s more to it than that. Taking electives can serve a greater purpose than just your life-long ambition to learn about the socio-economic landscape of post-Civil War America. They also can help you in ways you may not have considered.

Electives Can Teach Important Skills

This category is directed more at the liberal arts and humanities majors who spend most of their time in classes discussing literature, art and poetry. While these classes can make you highly employable, primarily because of communication and soft skills you gain, it’s also possible you may skip over aspects of education.

As pointed out by Forbes, there are a handful of classes that can make you more employable upon graduation and simply better at life. They include economics, financial planning and statistics. Almost everyone, in every walk of life, will need skills in these areas and a basic grasp of the fundamental theories.

They Can Make You More Well-Rounded

This flows the other way, as well. For those in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors, hard skills are not an issue. However, soft skills might be.

Communication courses are an excellent choice, as the ability to communicate can help people in every career (certainly, physicist Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory” could learn a thing or two). Financial planning and economics electives also could prove beneficial to STEM students more focused on the stars and calculations than on how money works.

Humanities courses on history, literature, art and interesting areas such as “The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Culture” also can provide a broader world view.

They’re Fun

Fun is totally OK, and an important part of life, even while choosing college courses.

If you’ve satisfied your practical side by taking electives that can strengthen your employability and widen your perspective, then it’s time to look at those that simply look fun or maybe even blow your mind.

Electives can fulfill a long-held interest to learn more about a topic that has nothing to do with your major. There’s nothing wrong (and everything right) with an art major who wants to learn about smart city technology or an engineer who has a desire to better understand the French Impressionists.

Electives Can Boost Your GPA

Most electives are not only fun but they may help boost your grades. That’s not really the point of electives, but it would be remiss not to mention it. For some people, this might be the main draw.

College allows you to explore topics that you might never have considered before and learn about subjects outside of your usual academic focus.

Electives accomplish that goal. They are an extremely good thing, whether taken to make you more well-rounded or just because they sound fun. Take advantage while you can, or you may regret it tomorrow.

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