Forté Foundation
Career Lab Virtual Campus

What Kinds of Classes Should You Take in College?

January 9, 2018

Picking classes each semester can be stressful if you have tons of options to choose from, but using this to your advantage is key to learning new skills and getting a wide breadth of knowledge.

If you are going into business, it is very important to take analytical courses like statistics or calculus. The math skills you learn in these courses will help you with higher level financial concepts in the future. In many statistics classes, you will learn how to analyze data using Excel which is useful for financial jobs, where you will be handling a lot of data. Getting a strong base in Excel will also help you in your job search because it is a technical skill you can put on your resume. If you aren’t a “pure math” person, there are other classes in your school that will still give an analytical component to your academics.

For example, this past semester I took an intermediate microeconomics course that combined calculus concepts with business and economic ideas. I learned how to make different budget lines and how economic systems work. Having this analytical knowledge will be important in your business career.

In addition to the technical math skills, it is also beneficial to take liberal arts courses that focus on writing. At any job, writing will be a key component of your work whether that’s writing memos, making an investment pitch presentation, or even writing emails. Being able to practice your writing in classes through essays and analyzing different readings will prepare you for how to write at your job. Even if the writing you do isn’t directly translatable, having the ability to take information and then write a critique on it or analyze it from different perspectives will broaden your mind and let you think critically. This is a skill that many people overlook but is very helpful in the workplace. You can find good writing classes in your English department or in history classes.

I’ve taken a few religious studies courses where I had to write multiple papers on comparing ideas within the religion and it really shaped my writing abilities. Being able to communicate via writing is incredibly important and taking classes that emphasize that will give you a chance to grow.

Not only is written communication important, verbal communication is key as well. The first few steps to getting a job or internship is the interview, so taking classes on public speaking or classes that require oral presentations will make you more comfortable with speaking in front of people you don’t know. The drama department at colleges generally offer introductory public speaking courses or acting courses. Even though this may not be the type of speaking you will be doing in your job, just practicing how to speak clearly and confidently will be useful.

I’ve taken a few classes including statistics and women and gender studies that had oral presentations and I gained a lot from learning how to present to a class while working with a team.

Another great tip is to take classes that seem interesting. I know this sounds cliché but college is the time to explore. A lot of business majors think that only taking finance and math related courses are helpful but figuring out your interests is also a key part of college.

I took a criminology course my first year and it was so different from what I was studying. I learned a lot about juvenile crime through a sociological perspective.

This past semester I took a civic leadership course in UVA’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and I learned so much about the tools necessary to be a strong leader. Every school has these gems of classes so be sure to take a few before you graduate!

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