Leaving Your Comfort Zone: Picking Electives

Spencer Linsner—It’s gonna happen at some point during your college career: either you have a Gen Ed requirement that needs to be filled, or maybe you just need a course or two to beef up your schedule for the semester (read: me), or you might have no idea which upper division courses to take for your major. Whatever the reason, registering for an elective course can be a daunting task to undertake; in the worst case, it feels like you’re jumping blindly into something that you’ll have to worry about for an entire semester and could end up sinking your GPA.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are several ways to alleviate these concerns and pick a good elective:

  1. Ask someone! There are plenty of places to go to get advice on which course to take. Brockport, for example, has Facebook groups for each of its class years. You could ask there, or you could ask students you know personally. If you know any students that are ahead of you in completing your major, ask them what the different course options are like, or even which professor they liked best for a certain course. If you’re taking a course outside of a major, get the opinion of someone else who’s taken the course.
  2. Do your own research. While it’s a good idea to take input from others on what courses are good to take, these opinions should still be taken with a grain of salt. Remember, YOU are the one who’s going to be taking the course! Be sure to try and find one that you like.
  3. If worst comes to worst, and you have to pick a course that you still have reservations about, or you are assigned to it as a freshman, try to stay hopeful. Remember, you can drop out early on if you REALLY don’t like it and you won’t face any penalty to your grades. And who knows? You may really end up liking the course. I’ve had two instances where the course worked out like that for me. The first time, it was Improv Theater which I was dreading. Turns out the instructor, Susan Hopkins, is a wonderful person, and the class felt like being in an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? (If you’re not familiar, check below. We played improv games like this ALL THE TIME. It was awesome.) I found creative capabilities I never knew I had.

Note, this video is over an hour long, so I can’t speak to whether or not the whole thing is safe for work (my guess: no)

And this semester, I’m taking Shakespeare on Film with Michael Slater. As the name implies, we get to analyze how various actors and directors bring Shakespeare’s works to the silver screen! We get to watch everything from classical interpretations to more indirect adaptations like Warm Bodies (Romeo and Juliet) and Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (Macbeth). It’s pretty cool!

The point is, don’t be afraid to try a new course. A college is a place of learning, both about yourself and the world around you. You’re only here for a few years—might as well have some fun with it.

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