It’s about time to make those last-minute changes to your schedule. If a class has been canceled over the summer, or you’re feeling more ambitious than you did a few months ago, here are some classes that I — a wise college senior — recommend. I’m trying to take the lifehacking angle on this. Each of these classes has real-world, practical applications, the benefits of which you’ll reap once you graduate. I have nothing against the humanities, but these classes won’t have you writing journals and thinking you’re on a religious retreat.

Where to study


Many of these classes might be more enriching at a community college. The 101 classes at most universities or liberal arts schools are designed to set up students for an MBA or on the path toward upper division courses. A community college is more likely to equip you with a basic, self-contained knowledge of the subject. Your school might also have an extension program, which is designed for people who aren’t students. Hence, it will treat classes the same way as a community college.

And if you’re close to the end of college days, don’t be afraid to save these classes for post-grad continuing education. Like I always say: “At some point, you’re too old for kegerators, but you’re never too old to learn.”


Introduction signposts


To ensure that you’re getting that free-standing level of knowledge, look for courses with “elementary,” “intro to,” “survey of,” or “principles of” in the title. Most schools also use “100″ for introductory courses that can be left unaccompanied by more classes (the free-standing ones we’re looking for), and “101″ to denote ones that start the progression of classes toward a major.

And now, for the list:

1. Business Law You might not be any better at getting out of parking tickets, but business law will have you on the way to interpreting employment contracts, rental agreements and copyright law — but we don’t expect it to keep you from pirating music.

2. Personal Finance or Financial Planning Let’s just call this “budgeting class.” You’ll learn about taxes, estate planning, retirement, and probably a little about investments and portfolio/risk management.

3. Quantitative or Analytic Math (AKA Real-world math) In a low-level math course, you might rehash the basics you learned in high school, but practical applications will be throughout. You’ll learn about problem-solving with equations, spreadsheets, probability, statistics and financial math like how much money that interest rate means for your student loan payments. Plus, you forgot how to do long division — better fix that.

4. Business Communications There’s a relatively well-known list of things people wished they’d learned in college. Almost all of them would be covered in a Business Communications class. You’ll learn how to: interview, write a resume, write cover letter, give a presentation, collaborate efficiently and network.

5. Public Speaking or Oral Presentations Business communications will only give you a cursory overview of giving presentations. A concentrated class will give you a chance to learn the nuances of public speaking, meetings (and videoconferencing), debate, presentations — and most of all, it’ll help you get over the nerves.

6. Computer Science Today, a basic knowledge in CS is literally like knowing a second language. Imagine being able to write programs to automate otherwise tedious tasks. Most jobs involve sitting in front of a computer all day anyway. And we’re HackCollege — what did you expect?

What are some electives that you think are most worthwhile?