It’s tempting to sign up for a familiar subject — or whatever’s offered mid-afternoon, near your dorm and doesn’t require a textbook — but it pays to think outside your major when selecting electives.
1. You might find a new passion
Staring down a semester of calc? Consider a pottery class. Theater major? Take a science, advises Lynn O’Shaughnessy, author of “The College Solution.” “A lot of kids will take an elective and then realize they have a passion for a class they just took on a whim,” she says. Bonus: Electives are frequently offered as pass/fail, so you can concentrate on enjoying something new rather than acing the final.
2. Well-rounded applicants are more attractive
So, you’ve got a stellar GPA and a degree from a prestigious university. Nice start, but so do plenty of others. An interesting skill or hobby could set you apart once it’s time to stop playing on the pottery wheel and get paid. “Why will an employer choose you and perhaps pay you more? Be the business major who also knows something about Islam, or who has studied philosophy or fine arts or creative writing and has begun to show the ability to think critically and creatively,” advises James F. McGrath, a professor of religion at Butler University in Indianapolis.
3. A bit of culture comes in handy
At Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, students are encouraged to take history and language electives to prepare them for travel and working with international clients. They also offer a wine tasting class — because really, who wants to do business with the guy who orders a cheap chardonnay?