When I graduated from college seven years ago, I walked to the stage beaming with pride over the academic success I just achieved. While I was very happy with the higher education I received, there are certain courses I wish I had taken, even for electives, as they have practical purposes in life after graduation. Still, there are courses that I was happy I took as I am still using knowledge from them even today.
So before you walk across that stage at graduation, make sure you have taken courses from the following:
- Finance. I hate to break it to you: In the outside world, money does make the world go ’round. While I don’t believe that money can buy happiness, I also know that money can buy a lot of things we need. I have seen too many people get stressed about money. In order to not let money (or lack thereof) run (or ruin) your life, you need to learn how to manage it. A simple personal finance course will teach you about credit cards, credit scores, loans, and saving money. The better control you have with your money, the happier you will be. I know I am.
- Real Estate. Chances are you will be buying a house in your future. It will be good to know about buying houses or at least know where to get the information when that time comes. I am currently in the process of buying a house and since I did not take a course even remotely related to it, I am overwhelmed with research about escrow, closing costs, building new, and buying foreclosures. The more you know about buying houses, the better you will be at negotiating and getting your dream house.
- Business. Jobs have been tough to find these recent years. In this market, we have to learn to reinvent ourselves. Starting our own business may just be the answer. I did not think I would ever go into business, so I did not bother taking a business course as an undergrad. But now I am actually planning to start one. Take a business course…just in case.
- Do-It-Yourself. Take courses that teach you a skill: automotive to fix your own car (or at least, oil change), culinary arts to cook your own food, wood shop to make your own furniture, sewing to fix your own clothes. They can turn into useful hobbies and will help you save money.
- Marketing and Communication. Some of these courses will teach you to develop a critical approach toward the information that are continuously being driven down our throats by the 24-hour instant media communication. It would be good to recognize an ad when you see one. And don’t skip public speaking. Yes, it is scary but you will use it (as I discovered when I started teaching it) and there will always be a need to market yourself.
- Sociology. This teaches us about our social world, our origins, and our institutions. You will learn a lot about how the world works. Since you need to live in the world, this is a must-take course.
- Foreign language. Don’t get left behind by the times. We are living in a complex and interconnected world. With advances in technology, your job might just end up being on a computer attending a meeting with Chinese partners on the other side of the globe. These courses will not only teach you to understand other languages, but also about other points of view.
Simply put, knowledge is power. Learn as much as you can in college and never stop learning.