Choosing your electives

How do I pick my electives?

Registration season means it’s time to start planning your new schedule, from when and where you want to take your courses to which ones you’d like to sign up for. While your major map dictates the majority of the classes in your schedule, you likely have room to fit in a few electives. The hard part? Choosing which electives are right for you.

We spoke to Therese Aguayo, executive director of academic advising in the College for Integrative Sciences and the Arts, to capture her best advice. Here are Therese's top five tips for elective-picking success:

1. Identify your interests: When you’re considering electives, you’ll want to find courses you’re genuinely interested in. Consider what subject you enjoyed learning about during high school, interests that you’ve never had the chance to pursue, something you watched a documentary on or a course related to the career of someone you admire. No matter how you get there, find something that sparks your interest and that you’d like to explore further. 

If you’re not set in your major yet and want to use your electives to explore another option, check out the major map for the major you’re considering. You’ll find suggested electives and introductory courses that are a great way to introduce yourself to the major. 

2. Talk to your advisor:  Your advisor is a great resource to help you find classes that work with your schedule. They can help identify courses that will interest you and ensure you have completed any required prerequisites for the classes you sign up for. 

Pro tip: ask your advisor if they have a list of popular electives they can share to get you started. Find your advisor’s contact information in My ASU under Academic Support Team. 

3. Learn to search: It can be challenging to find electives that match your interests. ASU’s Class Search allows you to filter by campus, general education requirements, subject and keyword — a great place to start. Try searching based on keywords related to your interest, or search through the subjects or departments that intrigue you. 

We’ll give you a cheat code to get you started: search “UNI” in the subject field (shown in the screenshot below) on ASU’s Class Search to find electives like "Mindset Connections." You can also view expanded class descriptions by clicking on the course title for more information on what each course is about.

class search

4. Consider a minor: If you’re finding yourself wanting to take all of your electives in one area of study, start thinking about whether you’d like to add a minor in that subject or pursue a double major (at ASU we call these “concurrent degrees”). Electives are a great way to dip your toes into a subject area, especially if you’re on the lookout for a minor that will fit into your schedule or considering changing your major

5. Find a balance: When you’re picking an elective, consider your course load. Avoid overloading yourself with options or stressing over creating the “perfect schedule.” Remember that you need to make it to 120 credits in order to graduate. So don’t be too hard on yourself, find a balance, give yourself room to take electives in later years and enjoy your first-semester experience. 

Ultimately, electives are intended to help you explore your options, give you a diverse learning experience and provide enjoyment. Use them strategically to the best of your ability, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisor with questions.

Search Sunny

Looking for a topic? Use our search tool to find answers to your questions.