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Now that we have a better grasp on chosing majors, let's talk a little about specializations. There's a lot to talk about, from declaring a minor to just taking electives that help you get an edge in the job market. And how do you find out what classes may help in the job market? Erica walks us through ways to find this out and how to think about specialization in your college journey!

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The first few weeks and months of college can have you feeling like you're flying by the seat of your pants. You're meeting new people, learning about new things, discovering new fields you didn't know existed. Like did you know computational archeology is a thing? There are people out there using computers and maps to learn about archaeology. It's wild. There are new activities and clubs and sporting events to go to and passions to discover. But through all that, we're also earning degrees and setting up what we want to do in our next careers.

Hi, I'm Erica Brozovsky and this is Crash Course: How to College, a Study Hall series presented in partnership with Arizona State University.

So, let's push beyond majors and talk about focusing our studies even more. For some of us, college is one thing we're tackling on a long list of priorities and for others, it might be the first time we're really fully out on our own. Either way one of the trickiest decisions you have to make is how and where to spend your time. A big part of this is time management or planning how to divide our time between all the different things we need to do. For a lot of people, time management might look like sticking to a to-do list, using time efficiently and planning study time in advance. Something we all have to do on the Crash Course team. Some schedules are more demanding than others, whether because the content is especially challenging, or just because the classes we need are offered at wildly different times of the day. And if we have a degree where we're expected to take classes in a specific sequence, that can be its own challenge.

But, we can plan for all of these things. Let's think first in terms of our obligations outside of school, whether that means planning around the time it takes to commute or leaving time for appointments tha can't be moved. Once we have a good idea of what limitations ar being placed on our schedule from outside sources, we can see how the available courses fit in the schedule we have. Another way to figure out if a schedule is doable is to think in terms of credit hours, which is a way of measuring the hours a students should expect to spend on a course in a week. One credit hour is equal to one hour inside a classroom and two hours outside the classroom, including completing assignments or studying. So a course that is three credits will expect you to spend three hours in the classroom and another six hours studying outside. Yes, that's nine hours for one class every week. If you're in a trade school or in certain degree programs that require hands-on training, credit hours can also include internships which are roughly 160 hours a semester.

Sometimes your schedule and the course schedule just won't work. When that happens, you have some options, like you may be able to take an online class from a partner college. Your advisor will have more information about what particular options your school has for the situation. But don't worry, it's something a ton of people encounter. That's something we can keep in mind when choosing classes, like I took two difficult language classes at once. So I made sure that the rest of my courses that semester weren't as demanding.

If this sounds like a not, never fear. When it comes to your college schedule, the single greatest resource a student has is an academic advisor- a faculty member trained to help students with academic planning. Sometimes, an advisor may be assigned to you by your school or by your major's department. There may also be special advisors for some programs such as business, pre-med or pre-law. If you're not sure who your academic advisor is or how to find one, ask someone in your admissions office to connect you. An advisor can help you understand your school's requirements, like how many credit hours you need to graduate or what type of courses you need to take to get your degree. And it can be hard to keep track of everything you've done and what you still have left, so advisors can provide you with a checklist or a map for your major or program. It may even be able to show you a degree audit or a report that lists your GPA, the classes you have completed and what requirements still lie ahead.

Advisors know a lot, but you can also seek at mentorship and advising on your own by talking with your professors and instructors and in particular, attending their office hours. These are times professors reserve to answer questions from their students about homework, class topics or the course as a whole. But they can also provide advice on declaring a college major, pursuing certain careers and choosing classes. And attending office hours doesn't necessarily mean you have to be in the same space as your instructor. Especially over the past two years, many professors have switched to flexible office hours that can occur in person, on the phone or over video. Really, we cannot recommend going to office hours strongly enough. These are times you can get personalized help and build connections by really getting to know your instructors as people but if you're not able to attend a professor's office hours that they usually list on the syllabus or advertise on their office door, you can also email professors to make an appointment. I've never had an instructor who isn't willing to try and make time for their students. The relationships you build now with your professors can really be lifelong connections and even mentorships. For me, going to office hours helped me build a relationship with a professor who eventually offered me a research assistant position after college. And ultimately became my PhD advisor and incredibly influential over my linguistics career. Thanks Lars!

None of us has all the answers and we can't do this whole college thing alone. Meeting with advisors of any type will likely become a common experience. In fact, it's best to meet with an academic advisor once per semester at least. But we get it. Meeting with an advisor or professor might feel a bit intimidating but with a little planning you can feel prepared to get the most of each sessions. Let's go to the thought bubble.

Aiden's a first year student at Complexly Community College. They need to register for classes but they're not sure which ones they should take for this term. After asking their RA for advice, they set up a meeting with their academic advisor to make sure all of their questions are answered. Before their meeting, Aiden reads through the school's course schedule, which lists all of the course, which professors will be teaching them, what times they will meet, some information about what requirements they satisfy and a short description. At the meeting, Aiden's first question is how to satisfy their degree requirements. Aiden's advisor helps them figure out which classes count for general education requirements, which we talked about in the last episode. Their advisor also suggests they they take a math and a writing course early on because these courses help develop foundational skills that are useful in many other subjects. Aiden has already declared their major so they may also ask their advisor which major requirements are important to complete early and which ones may present challenges. Some courses are very difficult, even for students majoring in that subject. For example, organic chemistry is often considered a difficult course, even for chemistry majors. These courses deserve plenty of space and your advisor can help guide you so that you don't end up feeling unprepared or falling behind. Thanks, Thought Bubble.

Before you meet with your advisor, you may want to write down some questions that are important to you so you get the most out of your time. If you're not sure what questions you even have, that's okay. Saying "I don't know what to ask or what to do" is perfectly acceptable. Your advisor is there to ease your stress, not add to it. You should feel free to share a certain class, professor or idea that excited you. Your advisor may say, "I know about a few internships that might help you explore that" or "Have you considered a minor in this field?" The best way to find out about new opportunities is to express yourself and ask.

Last, you may already have some goals in mind. So it's best to share those with your advisor and make a plan. They can help you determine how feasible those goals are and find a way to achieve them. For example, if you want to study abroad, you can ask your advisor if they know of any study abroad programs that would fit well with your interests or major. By having conversations about your interests and aspirations, your advisor can help you weigh the pros and cons of various paths. It might be too difficult to study abroad during one semester but with a little planning you may find another time slot that works much better. As we have more conversations with professors and advisors, we may discover new concepts or projects that pique our interest. Stay with that feeling.

College offers many options for students to specialize their studies in interesting ways. Specializing can help you develop skills that are attractive to employers and can also help you find a career path that hadn't occurred to you before. One way to specialize is to take a course that pairs well with your major but is in a slightly different area. In our last episode, we discussed the college major, the overarching theme or structure for your coursework in college. It's also possible to add a second major or a minor, which is a series of courses that let you focus on a certain subject more than one-off courses allow you to, but less than doing the full major.

When deciding what other majors or minors to add, we might decide a pairing is a good fit because it helps you gain an advantage on the job market. Like marketing majors might want to take some courses in data science or graphic design so that they can learn to evaluate the design of an ad or even create their own. Or nursing students might want to take foreign language courses because their patients may speak another language. Students who attend a culinary school may want to take some business courses if they want to enter the job market with a solid understanding of how to manage and grow a restaurant. Other times, major or minor pairing might just be to explore your interests and develop new skills. There's nothing wrong with learning about whatever you're interested in and it might surprise you when you learn that this interest could be a valuable tool.

But coursework isn't the only way to explore your interests and specialize. Another way to specialize is to seek out hands-on experience in the form of research or internships. You always have the option to ask your advisor "What skills are in high demand in your field." Specializations are useful because they can give you an edge when starting a career but they also help you become a well-rounded person. It really is all about finding the right balance.

We learn at a young age what things make us curious and what things we enjoy doing but in college we finally get the opportunity to develop these interests into full-fledged skill sets and areas of expertise and once we have a consistent baseline of healthy study habits, we're able to focus on gaining unique skills so that we can grow our passions and make the most of our time in college.

Thanks for watching this episode of Crash Course: How to College. This series is part of an expanded program called Study Hall. Crash Course has partnered with Arizona State University to launch Study Hall on its own channel. Check out youtube.com/studyhall where you'll find more tips about navigating college, choosing a major, plus foundational courses connected to college credit courses that students struggle with most in their first two years. See you over there!