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Free Electives

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership
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Free Electives

You'll notice that meeting your general education and major requirements leaves you with a little room for additional courses. Use these wisely!

Students use free electives in any number of ways:

1. To pursue a minor in an academic field. For instance, if your major is Political Science, but you're ultimately interested in issues of political economy, you might want to pursue a minor in Economics. If your major is Sociology and you find you gravitate to issues of gender within the field of sociology, you might want to select a minor in Women's Studies. OR, if you've always been interested in art history but you know you want a major in Psychology, you might consider pursuing a minor in Art. A minor will allow you to specialize further in your current field or to spend a concentrated, focused period of time in an unrelated field.

2. To strengthen key skills or areas of knowledge. All fields of study require competence in a series of related skills or areas of knowledge like writing, languages, quantitative skills, scientific principles, or knowledge about theory or practice. These skills are critical for success in the field, both while you're studying for your undergraduate degree and when you're preparing for work or graduate school. You might consider using your free electives to strengthen your skills in one of these areas. For instance, if you are pursuing a major in Anthropology, you might want to strengthen your research skills by taking a methods class that focuses on ethnography.

3. To complete the pre-requisites for a potential graduate degree. Many students learn too late that they missed the opportunity to fulfill pre-requisites for medical school while they were undergraduates. You can, in fact, use your free electives to take courses that will prepare you for graduate school in any number of fields. Interested in law school? No matter what your major, you might want to take courses in the Pre-Law program.

4. To take courses in subjects you love. There's nothing wrong with taking a class just because you love it – perhaps it's art or music, international studies or public policy, creative writing or Spanish literature. College is one of the few times in your life when you can indulge in the study of something you really and truly enjoy – even if you ultimately decide that it's not what you want to pursue as a major or a career. Do it!