Stress less: what you need to know about selecting your area of focus

| March 13, 2018 (LIVE)
Submitted by Kevin Linger for Marketing and Communications

Areas of focus.Businessman holding document binders with four major business functions - manufacturing production, marketing sales, human resources, finance accounting

You’ve heard of them before, ​but what does that even mean?

​Is it my major? Is it a minor? Does it appear on my diploma when I graduate?

​I was confused about it too, so let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

​During your Bachelor’s of Commerce at DeGroote, your required courses fall into a few different disciplines:

You have the option of ‘specializing’ in any of these areas. During your third and fourth years of study, you are required to take what are referred to as ‘commerce electives‘. Commerce electives are business classes you get to choose. Remember when you were in first year and selected from a list of electives including anthropology and sociology? This is the same idea. So when you select an area of focus, all that really means is the majority of the commerce electives you take are from one of the disciplines listed above.

​Do I Have To Determine an Area of Focus?

The short answer is no. Many students at DeGroote choose to take courses from several different disciplines. They may choose to do this because they have diverse interests, aspire to have a more flexible education, simply aren’t interested enough in any one area, or for other reasons!

​What’s great about DeGroote is that the choice is yours. If you would like to pursue certain careers, it may be beneficial to focus in one area. For example, taking more accounting classes is probably very valuable in pursuit of a CPA designation.

​To answer a couple common questions:

  • ​There is no record kept on your area of focus. Your choice will not be reflected on your diploma or transcript
  • You do not require a certain GPA  to specialize in a specific area
  • Your major is still Commerce

Why Should You Pursue an Area of Focus?Young finance market analyst in eyeglasses working at sunny office on laptop while sitting at wooden table.Businessman analyze document in his hands.Graphs and diagramm on notebook screen.Blurred

“So, if nothing appears on your transcript, why should you care about focusing?”

​Here’s why:

  • Prepare for a designation. For some professional titles, it is required that you take specific courses during your undergrad. ​
  • ​Gain a deeper understanding of a field. The opportunity to take a deep dive on specific topics is a very fun experience! ​
  • Explore careers within a single area. Before I began focusing on marketing, I thought the only role in the field was advertising. I’ve learned that there is a broad range of marketing jobs, including brand managers, marketing researchers, online marketing specialists, and more!​
  • ​You enjoy those classes! If you have fun learning about a specific discipline, you’ll be more likely to work hard and go the extra mile. Within the marketing stream, I frequently read books about the profession, and stay up to date on the latest trends. This layering of knowledge has only improved my performance in the classroom.

​​I Want To Focus, Now What?

​While enrolling in courses for your third year, choose classes that are related to your area of focus. In the undergraduate course outline, you’ll find a list of available classes. A few example courses from the DeGroote Undergraduate Course CalendarIn the right column, you’ll see the area of focus each class corresponds to. You can also check the undergraduate course calendar to find DeGroote’s newest classes.

​For example, if you are concentrating in finance, consider enrolling in International Finance, Security Analysis, Financial Modeling, and other related courses.

The first letter in a class’ course code can also be an indication of what area it corresponds to. While this isn’t always accurate, it can be a quick way to find what courses you might be interested in. For example:

Area Letter
Accounting A
Human Resources B
Finance F
Information Systems K
Marketing M
Operations Q or O
Strategic Management S or P

​It’s important to keep in mind that, even if you aren’t ready to make a decision at the end of second year, you can change your mind later. During my third year, I took consumer motivation, a marketing elective, and alternative investments and portfolio management, a finance course.

​I really enjoyed consumer motivation, and that played a huge role in helping me decide that marketing was my passion. In my final year, I enrolled in four marketing electives, with one information systems class on e-business strategy.

​If there’s one thing I’d like to leave you with, it’s this: choosing an area of focus is very stressful for some students. While it can be very beneficial to commit to one path, you don’t have to! Follow your heart, do some research, and make the most of each class you take, regardless of the discipline.

​For extra help choosing your commerce courses, book an appointment with an Academic Advisor! 

Kevin LingerThanks for reading!

I’m Kevin, and I’m a fifth year DeGroote undergraduate commerce student. I am also enrolled in my second semester of Mac CCE’s Digital Marketing program. I spent my fourth year completing a 14-month internship, and I am now DeGroote’s newest Digital Marketing Intern.

You can find me refilling my eighth cup of coffee in the DSB café, going for a run through Westdale, making cringe-worthy Dad jokes, or playing a very mediocre game of squash.

2 thoughts on "Stress less: what you need to know about selecting your area of focus"

  1. LC says:

    Great article. I remember after level 2 I was really confused on how to specialize in subject, will really help the early students.

  2. Dolan says:

    Many thanks, very helpful, however for the fields that require technical knowledge like finance and accounting, isn’t that mean take as many courses as possible will help you gain the skills you have to have in the future
    So stress still appear to those students including me. But in general I appreciate you explained the system very clearly and easy to understand. Wish you the best!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment Policy

We generally welcome discussion on our blog posts. However, we reserve the right to edit or delete comments in certain situations:

  • Comments which include unrelated or suspicious links or messages (spam).
  • Comments which are off topic.
  • Comments which attack or threaten individuals or a group of people.
  • Comments which include profanity or messages that would generally be considered offensive or inappropriate by the McMaster community.

This site is moderated by the DeGroote Marketing and Community Engagement team. If you have any questions please email Jared Lenover.