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What to do with free elective credits?

  1. Jan 2, 2012 #1

    While I'm majoring in electrical engineering my question is just in general what to do to make you more marketable to employers and is relevant to any major. My particular major allows me 24 credits of free elective credit that I can be whatever I wish to earn my B.S.. There's no sense in me taking basket weaving 101 and other such classes that have nothing to do with my major to fill these 24 credits of free choice. I'd rather pursue possibly a minor or pursue a masters in electrical engineering or something productive that would make me more marketable for jobs.

    The particular masters degree for electrical engineering requires that I take 27 credits. So I could chop away a good chunk of my masters and only be three credits short (only 1 class) from getting my masters if I put all 24 credits to the total 27 needed to get a masters. I could possibly just pay whatever is needed to take those three credits over winter break or summer. Should I do this or pursue a minor using those free credits? I could possibly get a minor in mathematics if I only take two more classes in math but then I would take away 6 credits that could of used to take credits for a masters.

    I'm not exactly sure what is the best thing to do with 24 credits of free elective and don't want to take stupid classes that will not help me out in the long run at all. Thanks for any advice.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 2, 2012 #2


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    Are you sure it's even possible to pursue a master's degree while you're an undergraduate? Even course-based master's programs are comprised completely of advanced courses. Normally, elective credits are set up so that you take about 4 program-related courses per semester and one elective, not all your program-related work first with a final year of nothing but electives. So the strategy of taking a master's related course in your first year without the prerequists is (a) likely not allowed, and (b) likely to get you in over your head by immersing you in course work that you're not prepared for. It's also worth keeping in mind that graduate-level course work is usually much more intense than undergraduate course work.

    My advice would be to use the extra credit to pursue your interests. If you want to make yourself more employable, join clubs. Get yourself on an engineering team like the solar car racing team or the robotics team. It looks a lot better to a potential employer to demonstrate accomplishments such as winning technical competitions than simply that you have the ability to shuffle work that you have to do anyway into an order that makes you look slightly better on paper.
  4. Jan 2, 2012 #3
    Or you could use your credits to maybe take some basic progamming classes that would make you more employable to businesses with computer control systems etc.
  5. Jan 2, 2012 #4
    Let's see...

    You could develop your programming skills. As computers become increasingly important, so will the need for skilled programmers who aren't necessarily programmers by job description.

    You could develop your language skills. Picking up a foreign language is very useful if you want to live overseas, or in a minority-heavy state like California or Texas. Useful languages to learn might be Spanish, French, Japanese, or German. Alternatively, your English could definitely use some improvement, if your forum post is anything to go by.

    You could develop your math skills. No engineer has gone away from school thinking, "Man, I did too much math". It will always help you in some way, even if it only develops your logic skills.

    You could take upper division electrical engineering courses not required by your degree. I'm pretty sure your degree doesn't cover every class offered by the department of EE, so take something that tickles your fancy.

    You could take business classes. Engineers are becoming increasingly responsible for managerial duties, and business classes can be handy in that role. Personally I detest the thought of business classes, but I can't deny that it is very useful and marketable.

    You could take grad classes. Get it out of your head that you'll ever get a masters while simultaneously getting a bachelors. It's just not gonna happen. But sometimes it is possible to take grad school classes as if they were undergrad classes.

    And you could most certainly take liberal arts classes! Don't be disdainful about them. They can really open your mind. Life isn't about getting the best job. It's about growing as a person. If it came down to learning something life-changing in a humanities class and getting a job that paid an extra twenty-five grand a year, I'd take the humanities class.
  6. Jan 2, 2012 #5
    Do you have an idea the type of work you wish to be doing upon graduation? You should be strategically choosing your free electives to perhaps benefit you in whatever area you want to specialize in. For example, I want to focus on semiconductor devices, hence I ensure I take any EE classes regarding electronic materials, as well as quantum physics.
  7. Jan 2, 2012 #6
    Shakespeare, art history (Renaissance era stuff is fascinating), the Classics, etc etc.

    You're there to get an education, you might as well take some classes outside of your comfort zone so your experience wasn't just an EE trade school. Who knows, you might learn something fun :)
  8. Jan 2, 2012 #7


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    Programming and/or CAD courses might be helpful.
  9. Jan 3, 2012 #8
    more advance physics?
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