Feature image credit: sites.jmu.edu


In high school, it’s easy to get the impression that the only “real” sciences are biology, chemistry, and physics. Fortunately, your options expand dramatically in college. Here are some extremely enjoyable STEM electives you can look forward to:

1. Geology

volcano.si.edu

volcano.si.edu

The study of everything Earthy, from crystals to fault lines. Our planet’s been around for 4.5 billion years, so there’s a bit of a backlog of things to discover. Also, geology classes tend to involve field trips.

2. Astronomy

STEM_Astro
Earth’s not big enough for you? Why not study THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE? Astronomy is a beautiful swirl of math, chemistry, and physics, and telescopes are basically time machines. Bonus: if you’re pro enough, you might get hired to consult on movies like Interstellar.

3. Engineering Design

mce.caltech.edu

mce.caltech.edu

This is the ultimate in hands-on lessons. Build a robot that conducts underwater salvage missions, or maybe design self-healing concrete. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to have a tangible end product to brag about.

4. Order-of-Magnitude Physics

Photo credit: Christopher Whelan

Photo credit: Christopher Whelan

Science and math can get pretty dry, especially when you’re just solving equations with no apparent real-world connections. OOM Physics solves this by constantly throwing real-world scenarios at you and expecting you to figure everything out using basic guesswork and simple calculations. How many piano tuners are in the state of California? Take this class to find out!

5. Video Game Programming

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

The number of students majoring in computer science has exploded over the past decade, and the post-college job prospects made it easy to see why. But even if your heart is set on a different major, you can still pick up some coding skills while having a blast creating your own video game.

6. Science Writing

discovermagazine.com

discovermagazine.com

This might not sound like a STEM class, but hear me out: imagine taking a complicated, technical topic – say, gene therapy – and then turning it into something a random person on the street wants to read about. Translating science into layperson’s terms while staying accurate and engaging is both an art and a science.

7. Optics

optics.arizona.edu

optics.arizona.edu

Let’s be honest, the coolest part of physics is lasers. So why not cut out all the boring stuff and just focus (heh heh) on light?