Chapter 6: Diversifying Your Schedule: Taking Courses Outside of Your Major
Whether you have declared your major or not, as a college student you have acquired the unique freedom to choose which courses you’d like to take to advance your higher education, free electives that you wouldn’t have had the chance to take while in high school such as Scuba Diving Training can diversify one’s education. Many post graduates such as myself agree that it is very important for students to broaden their knowledge by taking classes outside of the scope of one’s major because this is how you figure out what you are passionate about, and what type of career you are interested in pursuing after graduation. Reaching out to an academic advisor as soon as possible to schedule a meeting about your next semester’s course lineup is a great first step, and be sure to discuss any interests you have in taking classes outside of your normal scope.
As a global studies major, the core curriculum of my degree was already designed to cover a broad range of topics varying from political science to history and economics. This was a plus for me, because in order to be deemed eligible for a Bachelor’s degree in my field of study I took comprehensive classes covering fascinating topics with overlapping objectives, such as Introduction to Queer Studies, The U.S.-Mexico Border, International Law and Human Rights, Creative Writing, and the Psychology of Civic Engagement. College is every student’s time to discover their real interests, what they are passionate about, and what type of work they could devote themselves to in the future. The best way to unlock the mystery of yourself is to seek out challenges, step out of your comfort zone, and apply yourself in ways that you really haven’t in the past. By taking these steps, you will successfully discover who you are, what you enjoy, and also what you hate!
By now I’m sure you have been hammered by your parents, family members, coaches, bosses, and advisors with the taxing question: where do you see yourself in five years, and what kind of career do you want to begin after college is over? Yes, when I was a freshman, I had a very vague idea of the type of career field I’d like to work in when my academic career was complete, but I had simply no clue in the slightest about what type of jobs I’d be applying for once I earned my degree. The diversification of my schedules in college allowed me to take classes completely out of line with my major’s concentration. I signed up for courses like Oceanography, Managerial Organizations and Concepts, and Business Law - all of which expanded my knowledge on topics I had been unfamiliar with and even showed me what types of careers I was not interested in pursuing post-graduation. Put your finger in all of the pies, try out everything that might possibly be of interest to you, and do not be afraid of failure! In my opinion, it’s much better to try something and learn that you loathe it than to have never tried at all.
Further, it’s a great idea to take some fun classes while in college that do not relate to your major at all. For me, these classes involved subjects such as photography, jazz, musical theory, and yoga. I sought to add a fun course to my schedule each semester because they can be used as a mental break from the demanding course loads, content, and assignments stemming from your major-related classes. For example, during my freshman year I was enrolled in a sculpture class that met just once a week, and even though I am severely lacking in artistic talent, I found the class to be somewhat therapeutic because the work was very hands-on rather than simply reading a textbook and writing an essay on what I’d learned. Aside from the joyful experiences of working on my peculiar sculptures during class time, I got to make new friends with students who majored in the arts and learn about their own career goals in their field of interest. Apart from widening the scope of your knowledge in college, it is also very important to diversify your friend group and get to know individuals who come from different backgrounds and wish to pursue careers very different from your own. Who knows, maybe you will even learn a thing or two from a student in a separate major, who can help you see your own career field in a different light.
The main takeaway from this discussion is to never hold back from trying new things, and even though it’s obviously important to take classes related to your major in school, it’s also equally important to sign up for fun electives during your time in college. I encourage every college student to challenge themselves by taking a quirky, unusual, or unfamiliar elective that will feed a curiosity outside of their selected major. By doing so, students will obtain both life and professional skills such as the ability to be open-minded and step out of their known comfort zone, to grow into a well-rounded individual who is always seeking out new ways to learn.