In high school you have courses that you have to take, such as math, English, science, and PE, but from there you have some free reign on what classes you take. Most school districts will have stipulations on how many credits of each subject matter you need to fulfill. In other words, you may have to take at least 2 fine arts classes, or 2 language classes, but it is up to you which ones you take. These days schools offer electives in a wide variety of subject matters. You can learn sewing, pottery, dance, Chinese, painting, print design, yearbook, wood shop, photography, metal working, mechanics, sign language, theater arts, poetry, fencing, cooking, water aerobics, and all sorts of other things. With the wide variety of options, how should you go about choosing your electives?
- Consider your future goals. If you want to go to an Ivy League college, filling your schedule with fluffy electives like ceramics and cooking classes, is not going to be helpful. However, taking poetry, graphic arts, and French could really benefit you. So, your first thought should be to the future. While there is selection, and you should choose stuff you are interested in, do not have a schedule full of “easy” or “non-academic” classes. Unless you really learn a skill, they do not benefit you in the long term.
- What are your interests? Too many high school students choose their electives based on what classes their friends are taking. The fact of the matter is that high school is one of the only chances in your life to take a class on something you are interested in without paying extra money to do it. So, if you want to learn about computers, but your friends are taking sewing, do not go with the social, instead do what interests you. It is going to keep your attention better, benefit you more, and be a great opportunity to develop a skill you actually want to develop.
- Unfortunately availability is going to play a role in how you choose your electives. If you want to take AP English, and you also want a Photography class, but they are both only offered in the same period, choose a different elective is typically the smarter move, as AP courses will often benefit you more. So, if your slots mean you have to choose between an Environmental Science class, a home economics class, a typing class, and wood shop, then even though your choices are limited, you should choose the one of the available classes that most interests you.
The best way to pick your electives is to simply make a list of your must have classes, and then a list of the electives you are interested in, prioritized, then talk to your counselor to have them help you find a schedule that best fits your future goals, your interests, fills the school requirements, and helps you enjoy the school year!