Electives: Special Topics to Expand Your Horizons


This word often elicits thoughts of freedom. Of expanding horizons.  Maybe even a bit of disdain from what you think to be wasted time.

When it comes time to choose electives, it is imperative that you approach them with a forward-thinking mindset. Often times you will have either “free electives” or “restricted electives.” Free electives, as the name would suggest, allow for the most flexibility when it comes to taking what you want. So long as you meet the credit hour requirement for the elective slot, you are free to take whatever you’d like.

Restricted electives, however, are more constricted on the scope of courses available for you to complete. Often times, restricted electives allow some form of direction, while also permitting you to specialize in an area interesting to you. For example, I was required to take a free elective of three credit hours, so I took three intro courses in various physical activities, from intro to golf to intro to weightlifting. My free electives allowed me to develop myself personally from outside my major. We have so many qualified instructors here at Florida Tech that it’d be a shame to not garner knowledge and experience from as many as possible.

My restricted electives, however, have mostly been through my marketing major. In the past, I took Entertainment and Sports Marketing with Professor Salaga. In that course, I learned a lot about marketing live events and what makes major sporting events such powerhouses in the marketing world. Currently I’m enrolled in Professor Cook’s Advertising and Promotions course as a marketing elective. It is a rather hands-on course where I’m able to work with a team to develop a marketing plan in class for a hypothetical company, proctored by another in-class group.

I suggest using a forward-thinking mindset when choosing electives, because you should always try and focus in on areas of interest or areas that will compliment your degree that much more. For instance, if you are an engineering major and you have a free science elective, consider taking Intro to Sustainability. It may seem a little dull on paper, but with the trends of today’s markets and technology, efficiency is the name of the game in the next century and beyond. Getting a leg up on your peers by understanding such matters will prove worthwhile. If you’re in an animal behavior major, you may wish to look into an aquaculture course or two so that you can begin to understand the basic dynamics of animal husbandry.

I looked into sustainability early on and thought it advantageous, given the industry-wide recognition of such items as a triple bottom line or corporate social responsibility. Other electives have included various foreign languages to compliment my international business degree, as well as the previously mentioned physical activity electives to better my personal life.

Basic coursework lays the foundation for a solid grasp of your degree. Your electives (be they restricted or free) are what you use to customize your experience to get the most out of your degree. So when it comes time to make out your schedule next semester with your academic adviser, remember to carefully consider the electives you might take. You never know what you might be able to garner from them.

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