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The Art of Carefully Choosing Electives

Students auditing courses and choosing electives While talking to people (especially older people) about choosing electives you might have heard them use a certain term when referring to courses that don’t seem to offer much substance. It’s an older term, but still a relatively common one: “basket weaving” courses. A course is perceived to be a basket weaving course if the curriculum does not appear to be particularly rigorous.

While that might seem like a subjective evaluation, the fact that certain courses are perceived as harder and easier than others presents a conundrum for university students: to select electives based on how little work they might require, or to choose ones that will be much more rewarding and stimulating in the long run. If you are a new, soon-to-be, or current university student and are trying to decide how to fill those elective credits, below are some tips for choosing the best elective courses.

Research the professor

If you have never heard of or never used the website “rate my professor” before, it is high time you familiarize yourself with it. Whether you are choosing an elective, or trying to find out more about a prerequisite course, rate my professor is a platform that allows you to see what other students say about your professor. Is the prof fair? Are they arrogant and curt? Do they return work on time? Are they passionate about what they are teaching? Do students feel edified and educated after having taken their course? While you should always make up your own mind when deciding how you feel about something or someone, it is always wise to at least consider the opinions of the crowd.

You can also conduct your own independent research on the professor. Many of your professors have large bodies of published work, perhaps even books. Some of them may have held high positions in both the public and private sector. They might be considered by others in their field to be esteemed experts and leading thinkers. Take a moment to understand who this person is that you are paying to teach you and grade your work.

Read the syllabus before choosing electives

This is another ‘must do’ before choosing any course. If you are a paying student, and sometimes even before you’ve paid your tuition, you will have access to your school’s full calendar of courses, along with their respective syllabi. Many students pay far too little attention to their courses’ syllabi, both before the course begins, and during the semester. The syllabus is the most important course document there is. It tells you the objective of the course, the professor’s expectations of you and your work, and lists the course material you will be engaging with over the four-month duration.

It doesn’t make sense to invest a bunch of money and time into a four-month endeavour without knowing what it is going to entail. Peruse the reading and course material list. Google the titles of articles and books you are going to be using. Find out more about them. Are they works you are going to enjoy reading and analyzing? Don’t sign up for a course only to find out after the drop-out date that you are in for three and a half months of tediousness and pain.

Striking a balance between workload and interest

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing electives is maintaining a feasible schedule. This is where the realities of university life and individual circumstances come up against wants and desires. A study in 2015 out of Georgetown University found that some 70-80 percent of students at U.S. universities were working while taking classes. That’s 14 million students. Anyone who has ever worked and studied at the same time understands that it can be incredibly stressful – even to the point of anxiety and depression.

The reality of your university experience if you are trying to work at the same time as studying may end up influencing the kind of elective courses you can take. For instance, if every single minute of your day is already accounted for – with work, with school, with something extracurricular – it might simply be too much stress to try and squeeze in that Earth Science elective with the three hour lab once a week, or the classics course that asks you to read an entire book every single week. You might have to shop around for an elective that is less time consuming. If you still find yourself struggling to juggle all of your competing obligations, custom essay writing services can help you add some balance to your life by lightening the load.

Attend the first lecture if you’re still unsure

If you are trying to decide on a course, and are doing so with a number of different courses simultaneously, sign up for as many of them as you can accommodate and attend the opening lecture. If you go to the first class and are intrigued and see yourself being that way throughout the semester, it is a good sign that this is the class for you. If you like the professor’s personality, vision, attitude, and think you will get a lot out of the course material, you should at least put the course on your short list while attending the others.

Always make sure you drop any courses you are not interested in taking before the last eligible date to drop courses, or you might find yourself having to drop out of classes without receiving a refund. It is not as far-fetched as it might sound.

At the end of the day, you should view your elective courses as a chance for both new knowledge and exploration. Don’t look at your open time slots as an opportunity to do as little, or as easy work as possible if you don’t have to. Keep the above in mind when choosing electives, and reach out to Homework Help Global if you find yourself pressed for time and need reputable, professional essay writers to give you a helping hand.


(2019). “Rate My Professors.” Rate My Professor. Retrieved from:

White, G.B. (2015). “The struggle of work-school balance.” The Atlantic. Retrieved from: