What Classes Are Considered Electives?

I talk about electives around here all the time, but I just realized that I’ve never actually defined what an “elective” is. Anyone enrolled in one of the best online colleges has to take electives of some sort for his or her college major. These classes act as supplements to traditional college courses, like Math, English, and Political Science. Defining which courses are and aren’t electives can be somewhat difficult though, so let me break this idea down a bit more for you.

Typical College Electives

For the most part, college electives are courses that are not directly required for your degree program. They are still required for your graduation, but they are not specifically stated in your program outline. For instance, I took a lot of drafting and physics courses as an architecture major. Those were specifically required on my degree sheet. I also took philosophy and foreign language courses, which weren’t specifically named on the sheet. My degree program required me to go through the hours pertaining to those courses, but it did not require me to go through those classes exactly.

Typical college electives are courses like Spanish, Art History, Creative Writing, Physical Education, and other classes that most consider to be “blow off” courses. These subjects are supposed to enrich a student’s degree and open his or her mind to new ideas. For most students though, these are just classes that they can get easy A’s in. You may not feel that way about an elective that you take, but for most college students, electives just give them an excuse to slack off for an hour or two in the week.

Here’s Where It Gets Complicated…

If a person is majoring in a subject that covers typical elective courses, he or she may not be able to consider those courses as “electives.” For example, my husband was a German major for a few years in college. When I took German classes as an architecture major, they were considered electives. When he took them as a German major, they were simply part of his degree requirements. Thus you cannot categorize a class as exclusively an elective because that will be relative to your degree program.

Unexpected College Electives

Since college electives are essentially courses that you don’t have to take for your major, they can be just about anything. I took several AP tests before I went to college, so I got credit for Statistics, Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and a few other courses before I even enrolled. Since those classes didn’t relate to my architecture major, I was able to consider them electives. You could do the same for Math or English courses, as long as they aren’t specifically required of your degree program.

Non-Electives Turned Electives

If you decide to change majors some time in college, you may actually change some of your courses from non-electives to electives to minimize the amount of time you have to spend in school. When my husband switched from a German major to a meteorology major, he was able to use most of his German classes to eat up his elective hours for his meteorology program. Then all he had left to take were the degree-specific courses for meteorology.

I realize the information above is a bit complicated, so I apologize if I just managed to confuse you even further. If you can remember that electives are classes not required in your degree program, you should have a rough idea as to which classes are and aren’t electives to you. This is all relative in the end, no matter how simple it should be.

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