This year I’m taking my 4th and 5th electives at Ryerson, and I can honestly say they’ve improved my university experience in a HUGE way. Ryerson has tons and tons of interesting electives to choose from, and picking 2 electives that are right for you in your first year of university can be a challenge. So, I’ve come up with a few important guidelines to follow in order to make sure you fully take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to study academic fields outside of your program!
First year students pick 2 electives to start off, one for each semester, with a total of 6 needing to be completed over the course of your 4 years at Ryerson. Specifically, you’re required to take 3 lower level liberals and 3 upper level liberals, so make sure you pick your first electives from the lower level list, as many of them will be prerequisites for the upper level courses.
Now let’s dive right in! What must you keep in mind while picking your electives?
Choose something you’re passionate about
If you’re like me and have a wide range of interests, electives are the perfect chance to immerse yourself in a subject you really enjoy that isn’t included in your core program courses. For instance, since I’m in Media Production, my classes are focused on a very specific field and include more hands work than theoretical material. But I also really love English and Philosophy, and taking classes that are more heavily based on reading and writing essays has allowed me to balance out my course load for a more well-rounded learning experience!
Try something new
So you’ve chosen a course you know you’ll love, maybe something similar to a class you took in high school, but how about choosing something completely unfamiliar? You’ll never have a better chance to expand your knowledge and develop new interests than with electives, and isn’t that the whole point of university? Taking a class that’s totally new to you is a perfect way to challenge yourself like never before. For example, next semester I’m taking a third world politics class, which I’ve never done before. But I can’t wait to step out of my comfort zone, gain real world knowledge, and become a better informed global citizen. So take a risk on something brand new, there’s no doubt you’ll benefit from it!
Don’t go for the easy mark
This is a big one to remember, kids. You might hear about those who plan on taking a “bird course” to get an easy A. While you might’ve gone with this strategy in high school, university is completely different, and bird courses don’t exist. The best way to be successful in a class is to take something that’ll keep you interested, that you can get something out of, and that’ll motivate you to work hard. And here’s a little secret about university, marks don’t matter nearly as much as the learning experience. Ingrain this in your minds for when you’re driving yourself crazy with exam stress. If you’ve done your best, and you’ve gained knowledge from the course that’ll stay with you, you’re good to go.
Ask your classmates for recommendations
This is perhaps the best tool to ensure you end up taking a class that works for you. Say you’re contemplating between two philosophy courses. Asking around to find someone who’s already taken the course can help you figure out which class is more suitable to your interests, or which prof’s teaching style is more accommodating to your learning habits, thus saving you from future difficulties. Being able to talk to someone about a course you might not be 100% sure about is a great way to get your questions answered and discuss things you may or may not like about particular courses.
You might also want to take a gander at the different minors we have at Ryerson, which could possibly be an extension of your electives that pairs nicely with your program!