Confused About Choosing Your University Electives? Here Are 5 Things You Should Consider

Having trouble choosing an elective in university? Here are 5 considerations to keep in mind before making a decision.

Updated 16 Mar 2018

5 Things to Consider When Choosing University Electives - Feature-Image

The best part of university life is the flexibility to choose what you want to study for your electives, which are required to fulfil your credit hours while pursuing your degree.

With so many options available, it’s easy to find yourself spending an unhealthy amount of time obsessing over which subjects to take for the upcoming semester.

However, by keeping a few key things in mind, you can choose electives that not only complement your degree, but those that may help you in your future career. Here are 5 considerations to keep in mind when choosing your electives while in university.

#1. Are you genuinely interested in the subject?

How to choose university electives - 1 Are you genuinely interested in the subject

If you enjoy a particular subject, you are more likely to excel in it. Hence, it’s important to choose an elective that you are interested in, as opposed to one that you despise. This way, you’ll avoid the motivation slump and dragging your feet to class.

For example, if you enjoy photography, you can enrol in the subject as an elective to help you hone your skills and technical know-how. It may also complement your degree if you are studying a course such as mass communication or if you plan to do some freelance work as a photographer in the future.

On the other hand, if you have always wanted to try something different, electives are a platform for you to explore a new area of interest. So if you are enrolled in a Biomedical Science Degree but are keen to learn about business, you may be able to do so, depending on the course offered by your institution.

In short, you should choose subjects that interests you or that will help you stay on track with your career and future goals.

#2. Can it boost your CGPA?

How to choose university electives - 2 Can it boost your CGPA

Electives aren’t just about fulfilling your required credit hours — if you have a strategy in place and choose subjects based on your strengths and interests, your electives can help boost your CGPA at the end of the semester.

This is especially important if you are on a scholarship and need to maintain a healthy CGPA, or wish to convert your PTPTN loan to a scholarship by graduating with first class honours.

So if you’re not academically inclined towards science subjects, you may want to opt for social sciences instead or risk jeopardising your grades! You should also consider how you will be assessed for your elective subjects, such as via assignments, tests and quizzes or presentations to help you make your decision.

With these criteria in mind, ask yourself if you have the necessary skills, knowledge and patience to fulfil the requirements of the electives you are considering. This leads us to our next point...

#3. Will it take more time than your core subjects?

How to choose university electives - 3 Will it take more time than your core subjects

As a student, time plays a great role in your life, be it university, a part-time job or your social life.

Your electives should complement your degree and shouldn’t eat into the time you’re using to study your core subjects. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend more time than necessary on a subject that doesn’t contribute much to your overall CGPA.

For example, if you think you will spend most of your time stressing over your entrepreneurship elective which can negatively affect your ability to focus on your core subjects, then it’s time to reconsider your options.

Alternatively, if you’re game for a challenge, take up a tough subject anyway (if the benefits outweigh the cons) and take this opportunity to practise your time management skills!

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#4. Who is teaching the class?

How to choose university electives - 4 Who is teaching the class

Like it or not, who your lecturer is can be a deal breaker when it comes to choosing your electives. So if you want to avoid feeling miserable, find out more about your lecturer first.

Is a particular lecturer is notorious for being lousy at explaining? This can negatively affect your understanding of a subject. Conversely, while some lecturers are known for being tough, that doesn’t mean they’re lousy. They may hold high standards that are hard to meet but take into consideration whether they are willing to make themselves available outside of class to guide students, and how the course can benefit you in the future.

So, if students are dropping out of a particular class or have nothing nice to say about it, then that’s your red flag not to take it. Make friends with your seniors to gather their opinions to help with your decision making.

#5. Are there more pros than cons for choosing the subject?

How to choose university electives - 5 Are there more pros than cons

There are always pros and cons to every scenario, including whether you should choose a particular elective over the other. Similarly, it helps to weigh your considerations and make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of taking a particular elective to see if it is really worth your time and effort.

Think about what new skills you will learn. If you’re planning to pick up a new language, will you use it in the foreseeable future or will the level of difficulty negatively affect your grades? Be realistic with your “cons” and not let petty issues such as “none of my friends are taking this class” or “it’s an 8am lecture” stop you from learning something that can benefit you in the long run.

It’s worth taking a little time off to list the advantages of enrolling for a particular course before jumping into the deep end of the pool. You can start by speaking to your seniors who have taken the class or the lecturer who teaches the subject to find out as much information as you can about it, and work from there.

Choosing an elective can be tricky, especially if you have plenty of options available, but it’s worth mulling over these 5 considerations before taking the plunge. After all, university life is about learning and growing, so it’s worth thinking about how a particular class can benefit you with your career and future goals.

Studying hard, but not reaping the fruits of your labour? Find out if your study habits could be at fault here.

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    Natasha Sin

    Natasha Sin

    I went outside once. That was before Netflix.