The Top 3 Practical Areas of Study, Regardless of Your Major

Published: November 21, 2013

In this list, I discuss some college level coursework that everybody should take or at least expose themselves to. If your college or university does not offer any of the listed courses, I highly recommend looking at places offering supplemental coursework via extension courses, or your local community college. These three areas of study are practical, can a significant impact on your resume, and might even open up your mind to a new major. I use general terms to describe each area of study- I even recommend that you minor in one of these areas of study if you currently do not.

  1. Accounting


    Accounting, to most, is just about everything wrong and boring about mathematics put into a list of courses. However, if you're a business major looking to work in corporate finance, know that most CFOs in top companies around the world also are Certified Public Accountants. Accounting is not easy coursework by any means, but doing well in accounting courses will have a positive impact on your resume.

    Even if you're not a business major, accounting courses can teach you some vital skills for understanding personal finance. You can learn how to keep track of your personal expenses, how interest rates affect you, and many other vital skills.

  2. Computer Science or Computer Programming

    In a world increasingly focused on technological advancement, understanding of computer programming is one of the most sought after skills in today's market. If you have even basic knowledge of any form of computer programming, you instantly improve your chances as a job candidate. There are even online resources available to help you learn different types of computer programming.

    On the more practical side of computer science, I highly recommend at least taking a course on Microsoft Office. Sure, everyone is vaguely aware of what Access is and what Excel does, but not everyone can manipulate databases and spreadsheets at a level highly desired by employers. Familiarize yourself with the meat of these types of programs, whether you teach yourself online or take an available course.

  3. Political Science

    Political Science is one of the more oft-ridiculed majors. Generally political science majors will go to law school, maybe run for office, or end up teaching. However, in a society where all citizens have the opportunity to vote, I believe that it is important to familiarize yourself with terms commonly associated with government. Understanding how the government works might not necessarily be a marketable skill, but it is still an important one to have. Familiarize yourself with terms like polarization, majority rule, and understand how your government works.

In college, I found that many students were so focused on their major, the courses they chose to take as electives, while interesting and academically stimulating in their own right, weren't courses that could be marketed. You have the opportunity to explore a wide range of coursework when you are a student. You generally will also have requirements to take a certain number of electives. I highly recommend all of the above areas of study, especially accounting. Knowing personal finance will better your chances for success, whether you choose to work in business or not.