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10 Worthwhile Electives Students Wish They Took

Jan 12, 2009

Just because you aren't majoring in health doesn't mean you couldn't benefit from a course on nutrition. Electives offer students the opportunity to broaden their skills and pursue interests outside of their major fields. If you're not sure what to take, check out these 10 electives that many former students wish they took.

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College Electives

1. Personal Finance

Although there is a growing push to integrate financial education into the K-12 classroom, most students don't get a lot of money management experience before they're sent off into the world to sink or swim. Even if you're not a business or accounting major, a personal, business or general finance course can teach you essential financial management skills that will serve you long after college.

2. Public Speaking

Does the thought of standing up in front of 100 - or even 20 - people terrify you? Most people have a fear of public speaking, but this is a common requirement for many professions and even some academic programs. Taking a public speaking elective can help you become more confident in front of a crowd and more articulate throughout your life. Check out Communications 101: Public Speaking and get ready to become a great public speaker!

3. Business Writing

Even research scientists need strong written communication skills to succeed in their careers. Taking a business writing course can help you learn to write effective resumes, cover letters, memos and many other types of professional documents. Try out a workplace communications course and start improving your business writing skills!

4. English Composition or Creative Writing

Students who are seeking more general writing skills may benefit from a basic composition or creative writing course. Both can help you improve your grammar, spelling and vocabulary, as well as guide you in developing a clear written style and voice. Creative writing courses can also give you the tools you need to overcome academic writer's block in your other courses. Check out English 104: College Composition to start boosting your writing skills.

5. Physical Education

Many students neglect their physical health when in college. In fact, regular physical exercise can not only keep you healthy and strong, it can also reduce stress and improve your ability to focus.

You can benefit from physical education electives even if you dreaded every day of P.E. in high school. Most colleges offer lots of alternative P.E. courses, such as swimming, martial arts and dance, in addition to traditional individual and team sports activities.

If you're interested in physical health, you may also want to check out Health 101: Principles of Health.

6. Art or Art History

Even if you're not pursuing an art history degree, studying the arts can be both personally and academically fulfilling. Many studio art courses teach practical skills such as welding, building objects or drawing from sight in addition to helping students develop their creative sides. And art history courses can not only teach students about their cultural history, they can also help students develop the essential analytical and critical thinking skills that come from a liberal arts education. Check out Art 101: Art of the Western World to learn art from ancient Egypt to today!

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

7. Marketing

Marketing skills look great on any resume, and they can also help students promote themselves and their talents in just about any field - even artists can be more successful if they learn to effectively market themselves. Furthermore, marketing courses can offer an opportunity to learn more about how to apply new technologies and ideas, such as social media, to your professional life. Start Business 102: Principles of Marketing. You'll learn the basics of marketing and earn college credit that you can transfer to your school.

8. Foreign Language

Most humanities subjects, such as English or history, require students to take at least one foreign language, but even science majors can benefit from this subject. There are many more professional opportunities available to individuals who can speak more than one language, both abroad and in the U.S. Furthermore, studying a foreign language can improve your critical thinking and communication skills in your native language. Start learning Spanish today with Spanish 101: Beginning Spanish

9. Nutrition

Nutrition is a topic that is both interesting and good for your health. You can learn more about biology and food science while exploring how the foods you eat affect your body. You may even find you enjoy it so much that you sign up for a cooking class next! Take Nutrition 101: Science of Nutrition and earn elective credit that you can transfer to your school.

10. Psychology

Introductory psychology courses can teach you more about everything from interacting with classmates to managing future employees to raising children. Many intro psych courses cover such topics as human behavior, social awareness, memory, language development, personality traits and psychological disorders. A psychology courses that emphasizes behavioral psych can even help you develop better study skills. Earn elective credit for Psychology 101: Intro to Psychology, Psychology 102: Educational Psychology, Psychology 103: Human Growth and Development, and more! See all psychology courses for credit here.

Still not sure what you should be studying? Study.com offers lessons across all subjects that you can check out to help you find the subjects that interest you most. Start browsing courses and lessons.

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