9 Unique Electives to Consider

Although many of your classes are necessary for your degree, you’ll likely have at least a few electives, which allow you to choose classes in almost any subject. By picking some unique classes, you’ll create a less-demanding schedule, learn skills that none of your other classes cover, and give yourself something to look forward to when your core classes are tough. Whereas some electives may be just as difficult as your required courses, all the ones on this list are particularly fun and engaging.

1. Sign Language

Many universities offer introductory sign language, but few students take advantage of the opportunity — most likely because they underestimate the usefulness of this elective. Being able to communicate in sign well enough to hold a simple conversation will be invaluable for a wide range of jobs and industries.

2. Improv

Although most people are unlikely to use their improv skills in a career setting, it’s hard to find a better class if you’re looking to gain confidence. Improv is more relaxed than public speaking and you’ll be with other students who have no acting experience, many of whom may also feel anxious. Best of all, you’ll be on stage in a group rather than alone.

3. Intro to Psychology

There’s no need to be a psychology student to take an introductory psychology class. If you intend to work in a field that involves interacting with people, you’ll find it useful to learn about the science behind behaviour, personality, and thought processes. You may even feel inspired to take a more specialized psych elective later.

4. World Music

Understand music on another level by learning about genres, instruments, and traditions around the world. The great thing about this elective is anyone can do well, not just talented musicians.

5. Creative Writing

A creative writing elective is ideal for anyone who has an idea for a novel or screenplay but can’t seem to get it down on paper. You’ll learn how to tell stories, create realistic characters and dialogues, and structure your text correctly. Plus, improving your writing skills will help you succeed in all the other courses that involve any kind of writing. Another benefit to this elective is you’ll learn to take criticism: your classmates will read your work and provide feedback, helping you to continuously improve.

6. Pottery

Another way to experiment with creativity is through an elective like pottery. Even if you feel like you lack artistic skills, give it a go — you may surprise yourself when you engage with a completely new medium. Best of all, you’ll have something tangible at the end of the course.

7. Personal Finance

Students who are studying a creative major can add some variety to their class schedules by taking an elective like personal finance. This can be beneficial whatever you intend to do after you graduate, as you’ll have a better knowledge of how to save, manage debt, and use credit cards responsibly. It’s a particularly good option if you want to start your own business or even if you just have student debt.

8. Dance

If you’re struggling to stay active due to a heavy course load, consider taking an elective to keep fit. Your university may even offer more than one dance elective, allowing you to find a style you enjoy. You might even continue practicing after the course is over. As well as teaching you dance moves, the classes will cover aspects of dance such as history and culture.

9. Art History

A more academic elective than the above is art history. This elective is the perfect way to gain a deeper appreciation for all kinds of art or take your study of history in a new direction. It may even include a field trip to a nearby art museum.

Another way to bring fun into your life at university is by living in off-campus student housing. Oshawa students at Ontario Tech and Durham College can join a community of students living at Foundry Simcoe. You can choose between a suite and a townhouse, both of which are fully-furnished and equipped with everything you need. Contact us to schedule a tour.


How to Start a New Semester Off Right

A new semester is an ideal time for a fresh start. Use the opportunity to develop better habits related to everything from your studies to your social life.

1. Find a Space Where You Can Focus

If you’re attending in-person classes, you need a space to return to at the end of the day for your independent study. If you’re taking online classes, a study space is even more important, as you’ll need to maintain your concentration for long periods of time. The perfect study space is different for everyone. Some people find it motivating to be around others and enjoy spending time in a library or even a café. Others can only concentrate where it’s quiet and prefer to be alone. If you’re unsure where you focus best, take time to experiment with different locations and setups.

2. Improve Your Study Habits

There’s always room for improvement when it comes to studying. Maybe your mind wanders too easily, or maybe you’re prone to leaving schoolwork to the last minute and need to study for hours just to finish in time. Whatever the case is for you, set goals this semester to improve. Setting regular times to study over the week and timing yourself to ensure you take enough (but not too many) breaks can be helpful no matter what you’re trying to achieve.

In addition, keep your mind active when you’re away from your textbooks. You could, for instance, play brain-training games or dedicate more time to reading challenging articles.

3. Learn About the Resources Your School Offers

Most universities have a variety of resources on offer to students — these could be invaluable to your study journey. For example, your school may offer useful workshops to help with particular study skills or be able to connect you with a tutor.

4. Reach Out for Support

Besides your university, you can also rely on informal resources: the people you know. If you ever feel like you’re struggling or just need moral support, there’s no need to feel alone. Many of your family members, friends, and coworkers have already gone through what you’re experiencing. They may be able to offer you advice or just commiserate when times are tough. Plus, they’ll want to celebrate with you when you reach major milestones.

5. Get to Know Others in Your Classes

Forming study groups with classmates is a great way to prepare for exams, check that you understand the material, and just spend time with people who are facing the same challenges as you. Arrive early to class to talk to people or catch them on the way out. If all your classes are online, reach out through chat and ask classmates if they’d like to join a WhatsApp group or have a study session on Zoom.

6. Strike the Right Balance

In addition to studying, you may be working. Plus, you certainly need to maintain an active social life and dedicate time to yourself. It’s important to create a balance among all these responsibilities.

Make sure your employer, friends, and family understand how important your studies are, particularly when an important deadline is looming. However, it’s also crucial you avoid becoming so devoted to your schoolwork that you miss out on other aspects of life. Schedule time to see friends, practice your hobbies, and just relax — you need it!

A new semester is also a perfect time to move into better accommodation. For an off-campus Ontario Tech residence, a great option is Foundry Simcoe. You’ll have a comfortable place to study in your room, access to high-speed internet, and the chance to meet many other students to expand your social group. Book a tour to see our student housing options today.


How to Choose the Right Major

A lot of pressure is put on students to pick a major that will make them financially successful, but that’s not always the best idea. On the other hand, some people wind up being unhappy in their careers because they went with their passion instead of their strengths. Feeling overwhelmed? Pair that with the thousands of majors being offered, and you’re sure to find yourself stressed about making the right decision for your future.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure about your major—you’re not alone. Here are a few things you should consider before you settle on the best choice for you.

Identify Your Interests, Values, and Abilities

Don’t choose a major just because it’s the latest trend. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, determine if the major you’re considering matches your interests, abilities, and values. It’s also a good idea to give yourself some room to grow because, with the right exposure, some of your interests and values may solidify later in life. And if you have an interest or passion for something, why not get paid for it?

Consider the Future

Will you still enjoy your career path years down the road? Is it employable? Will it pay enough? Is it sustainable? Is there enough room for growth? These are important questions to consider when choosing a major.

A safe way to stay out of problematic situations is not to choose a super niche degree that limits employment opportunities. Doing so will also keep you from picking a major that will become obsolete with rapid technological advancements.

Choose the Right School

If you know what you want to pursue, choose a school popular for offering quality education in that particular field. Even if you haven’t decided yet what to major in, you can shortlist some suitable schools and look at what programs they are offering. Also, consider a college or university with a good alumni network—it can go a long way towards helping you in your career growth.

Take Time to Decide

Choosing a major doesn’t have to be an overnight decision. That’s because it will affect your life for years to come, so it’s important to give it careful thought.

Even university advisors suggest students avoid choosing majors immediately. Instead, they encourage students to take time to experiment with different courses before declaring their majors.

You can even consider taking a gap year or a semester off to travel to find yourself before deciding.

Get Help

While you are the only one who can make the final decision, it’s always a good idea to take the opinions of others and learn from their experiences or insights. For instance, you could talk to your advisors, career counselors, and parents. You can even speak with your peers – who, even though they’re in the same boat as you, can sometimes offer excellent advice.

Allow Yourself to Change Your Mind

According to the NY Times, 61% of the students at the University of Florida change their minds about their major by the time they reach the end of sophomore year. So, if the same thing happens to you, don’t worry—you’re in the majority if you’re second-guessing your decision! As you evolve as a person and in university, you may find out that a particular major isn’t right for you anymore. And that’s okay!

Key Takeaway

Remember that college or university brings so many new experiences. Living on-campus or off-campus in the rooms for rent in Oshawa, meeting new people, making new friends, new experiences, and more—it can all be a lot to take in at once! If you’re happy with your major and the path you’ve chosen, you may find it easier to settle into the other changes.

Indeed, choosing a major can be one of the most challenging decisions in life. The good news is that by following the tips given in this post, you can work your way towards the decision that’s best for you.


Tips for Balancing A Busy University Schedule

The hectic nature of university life can have many different effects on students. Fatigue from lack of sleep, difficulty focusing on lectures, and a higher stress level are just some of the side effects of busy university life.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to help manage your time. Here are some tips for balancing a busy university schedule.

Set a Workable Routine

You’re in university, so you’re most likely juggling a full schedule of coursework, assignments, a part-time job, and more. Establishing a routine is a tried and tested method to minimize stress and increase productivity. A practical and realistic routine helps manage all of the responsibilities you have without falling behind.

But don’t forget to take care of yourself, too! You’re not superhuman; you’re a student trying to work things out, so don’t make your routine a strict rule. Instead, keep it flexible, make adjustments, and don’t stress yourself out if you somehow slip away from your plan.

Also, try to keep your weekends free to catch on some sleep and relax after a week’s hard work. During the week, keep your work mode on and complete tasks early so you don’t have to cram. The “I’ll do it later” attitude cannot only disturb your schedule but also lead to more work for you. Eventually, it could even cause burnout.

Find Your Most Productive Time & Place

Are you more fresh, relaxed, and alert in the morning, between classes, or late at night? Similarly, does your roommate disturb your studies, or are you okay with people walking around while you try to focus?

It’s a good idea to try different times and places to find your most productive hours and environment. For some, corner coffee shops work well for studying, while others need the pin-drop silence of a library to activate their brain cells. Determine yours, and you’re sure to be more productive.

Take Breaks

Following the same everyday routine can eventually become boring and tiresome. As such, you should consider taking breaks whenever you can to switch off the “study brain” for a while and relax. For example, you could take a short break of five to ten minutes after every 30 minutes of studying. Also, consider taking a mental health day once every couple of months to unwind and re-energize your mind and body.

Get Enough Sleep

University students often don’t get enough sleep because of deadlines and unending assignments, coursework, meetings, and more. Remember that getting enough sleep every night is crucial for your health. So, you must set a proper sleep schedule and follow it as closely as possible. Doing so will help your brain function better and be more productive the next day.

Try New and Fun Things

Take some time off your busy life to try new things. For instance, you could visit a new place or browse student apartments for rent. North Oshawa has plenty of locations for you to explore during your downtime. Or, you could spend some time on your hobby or anything that interests you.

This is important for your mental and emotional health and can boost your productivity. Adding new experiences can be exciting and keep your energy levels high.

Spend Time With Your Loved Ones

Being in university doesn’t mean you have to put your family life on pause. Whether you live on-campus or off-campus, try to visit your family once a month. Or, you could do video calls if visiting your family isn’t feasible. Similarly, consider friends’ meetups every other week to stay connected and have fun.

Final Thoughts

Studies consume so much of the best years of our lives. Just because the clock is ticking and there’s a lot to do doesn’t mean you have to forget about yourself. Don’t allow the pressure to excel in school cause you to become exhausted and overworked.

Instead, develop a schedule that includes a balance of studies, work, and free time. You can tailor your schedule and change priorities as needed, since staying flexible will help you do well in university and beyond.