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How to Choose College Electives While Studying Online

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If you're looking to fill your online elective courses then you might be wondering how to go about making your selection. The choices are numerous and so are the categories each elective falls within. Here are a few tips to guide you along the way.

Tips for Choosing Online College Electives

Choosing college electives can be a fun part of setting up your college schedule. Electives give you the opportunity to branch out from your general course of study and experiment with new areas of interest. Electives can also be used as a way to complete general degree requirements or to enhance your major. Here are a few strategic tips for choosing not only captivating and exciting online electives, but also ones that will work towards your overall degree goals.

Make Online Electives Work for You

One of the first things to do when choosing online electives is to ask yourself how those electives can work towards your overall degree requirements. Many times, electives can be used to satisfy general degree requirements while at the same time building your skills in your particular area of study. Here are a few ways to make sure you get the most out of your online electives.

Choosing online electives.

1.) Choose electives that meet general degree requirements

Make good use of your schooling time by choosing free electives that fall outside of your field of study yet count for general degree requirements. Most schools require students to complete two or three free electives. These cannot be related to your major. Instead, take this time to choose elective courses in an area of study you might not have considered before. For instance, as a math major you may find writing to be intimidating. However, taking an entry-level writing course could help improve your practical writing skills.

2.) Select electives that enhance your major

Search for online electives that will help you build a more rounded platform for your chosen major. These are generally referred to as an area of study electives. They usually do not count towards the required electives for your major, but they can be used to meet your general degree requirements and at the same time build up your skills in your field of study. For example, as a business major you may find that taking an entry level course in graphic design could help boost your skills in creating eye-catching business plans. Computer programmers may prefer to be behind the screen, but an elective in public speaking could equip them when the time comes to present the latest software development at a conference or to the company's board members.

3.) Look for electives to build a minor into your degree

You can also choose online electives to add a minor course of study into your degree. If you're majoring in English but you also find history courses to be fascinating then choose online electives from the history department. You can start with entry 100 level courses and build your way up to 300 level courses. These electives will most certainly count for general degree requirements, but if you take enough they can also give you enough credits to pick up a minor in history.

Choosing online electives.

Familiarize Yourself with Elective Formatting

Once you have a basic understanding of the type of online electives you are looking for you'll be ready to read through the course catalogue to see what's available. When browsing through your options, pay special attention to class formatting to make sure it works for you. There are different types of online courses that may or may not be what you're looking for. The most common include web, hybrid, and self-paced courses.

1.) Web

Web based courses are typical online courses that are completed online and do not require any on-campus visits or in person class check-ins. Courses may incorporate video instruction, online chat rooms, message boards, e-mail correspondence and more.

2.) Hybrid

Hybrid courses offer students a taste of both online classes and on-campus classes. Instructors use a virtual classroom as the main meeting place online and communicate regularly through bulletin boards, chat rooms, e-mail and more. Mid semester and final semester exams, however, are given on-campus.

3.) Self Paced

Self-Paced online courses are a little different and may or may not involve the Internet. These courses generally provide coursework and instruction via fax, mail or e-mail. The use of interactive web activity is not always implemented. These courses are generally for accelerated learning or those with difficult schedules. They also require a proctored exam, which means there will be on-campus required visits.

Talk with your Academic Advisor

Before actually selecting and enrolling in your online elective courses, schedule a session with your academic advisor. Advisors are great resources for students as they are quite knowledgeable in general degree requirements and are most often professors in your chosen major meaning they know your major's requirements inside and out. They can affirm you're on the right track for choosing course electives or give direction and guidance if you need to make a few course adjustments.

Talk with an advisor.

Remember your Passions

When it comes to choosing online electives don't forget to keep your passions in mind. Don't settle for boring classes just to check off a requirement on your road to graduation. Take advantage of the broad selection of courses and enroll in something that fulfills your passions while fulfilling your degree requirements in the process.

By Amanda Johnson
February 2017
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