Electives: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

I can’t believe it but it’s time to select electives for the next term already. How time flies!

I promised you more posts and they are all sitting nicely in my drafts folder so I have blocked off some time today to plow through and get them published. I’m currently hanging out on the third floor of the Atrium at Rotman while the Business Design Challenge is underway. Although a tad distracting, it’s always nice to have interesting and energetic events underway on campus. And I get to eavesdrop on the guest speakers!

One of the questions I often get asked by prospective students are about electives. There seems to be a perception that part-time students don’t get the same options as full-time students for electives. So let me see if I can address that myth and provide some reflection on electives so far.

The Good: what’s really nice about electives is that you get to take the courses that you want and select the professors that you want to learn from. While I have certainly enjoyed (some more than others) all the core courses and professors so far, it is almost luxurious to be able to hand-pick what areas you want to study for the next term. I also really appreciate the opportunity to learn from well-respected professors such as Gary Latham, Jim Fisher & Ajay Agrawal in addition to the strong professors that I had during my core. Electives are also an opportunity to meet new Rotmanites as there are other students from the full-time, evening and morning programs from various graduation years. And lastly, I appreciate the additional flexibility with electives to take more especially during the summer term if you want to adjust your course load in future terms.

The Bad: while you do get to meet new people, as I mentioned before, it’s a bit sad to be away from your cohort that you just spent the last year and a half learning with. You realize what a safe environment that has become and it’s a bit scary to participate in a class without a lot of students that you know. For each elective, it’s a bit like the first day of school without many familiar faces. And while electives do offer you flexibility in terms of timing and subject/professor, I do feel constrained from a scheduling perspective. Not all electives are offered during the morning/evening/summer so as a part-time student you do need to make a choice when selecting your electives. There is a high possibility that an elective you really want to take is only offered during the day which means you might have to adjust your work schedule if you want to take it. I have not had to make that choice yet, thank goodness, but there is definitely the possibility every time we need to select new electives.

The Ugly: I don’t know if this is really “ugly” but I have found my electives to have a heavier workload than my core courses. It could be characteristic of the winter term as last year at this time it was pretty heavy and my work is notoriously quite busy during this time as well. But every time I bump into someone from my cohort, it seems that we are all struggling a bit more than usual. Maybe we all thought that things would be “easier” during electives and we were all taken a bit by surprise. Anyway, there are only a few more weeks to this term so looking forward to just plowing through and making it to the end of yet another term.

And for my fellow classmates who are selecting their electives, here are the ones that I am taking/have taken all of which I would highly recommend:

  • Effective Leadership with Gary Latham (summer intensive term)
  • Corporate Strategy with Ajay Agrawal (winter term)
  • Organizational Design with Jim Fisher (winter term)
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