When you are staring down the high school years, you’ll want to figure out more than the core courses. In fact, these are the years that your kids will enjoy taking elective classes to help them learn about future careers or even explore personal interests. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing electives in high school.
Electives in High School
Figuring out which electives in high school would be best for your student doesn’t have to be complicated! High school students have a lot of options to be able to beef up their transcript, showcase special skills, or enhance their college application. If you have a graduation checklist, that helps make sure you check all the boxes.
Making Your High School Electives Stand Out to Colleges
All your high school courses will show up on your transcript, and your transcript is one of the aspects colleges will consider in their admissions process. So in order to make your high school electives stand out to colleges, you’ll want to consider the following things.
First, have you taken all the core courses? Did you stop with the core courses, or did you progress to higher levels? Then, your electives will show your academic abilities even further if you take challenging electives or classes in your field of future interest.
All of these high school electives can make your college application stand out from your peers.
The most important tip is to start with the end in mind and to know what the colleges are looking for.
They will want to see a logical progression in your field of study in high school, which includes your electives. So instead of going helter-skelter with your electives, make a solid plan before you begin high school to have the best looking transcript for future colleges to consider.
What High School Electives Show to Colleges
Every high school student will have an individual plan for figuring out which high school electives they need to show to colleges. This will be based on future career goals, how competitive admissions policies are at your school of choice, plus which electives fit your abilities and interests.
Here are some things to consider when choosing high school electives.
Of course, you need to consider your interests when picking elective classes. What field do you want to pursue in the future?
For someone interested in going into the culinary arts, then any culinary elective options will make a lot of sense for them. If you want to go into the field of politics, then you’ll want to beef up the foreign language studies and also additional political science electives or speech classes.
Who You Are
What are your unique talents? How can you showcase who you are on the transcript through the electives you take?
Focusing on unique electives will help you stand out from the rest of the college applicants. If you’re uniquely talented in playing the piano and want to pursue a music degree, then taking high level music theory courses and performance-based electives in high school will show who you are in a powerful way.
Willingness to Try Something New
Not all high schoolers are willing to try something new, so when you can show that you are by completing a challenging or interesting elective class in high school, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
The cool aspect of high school electives is that when you dip your toe in the water of a new topic or elective, you just might find your passion! Many people have discovered their future career based on one single high school elective and their willingness to try something new. You just never know!
Electives Strengthen Your High School Transcript
Electives strengthen your high school transcript by showcasing your varied and unique educational experience. During the college application process, your transcript will be one of the key components to judging your academic abilities, so this is an important reason to choose your electives wisely, especially if you’re pursuing entrance into a highly competitive school.
Anyone can take high school English classes, for example, but did you also take public speaking or additional writing or journalism classes? Instead of taking just two years of a foreign language, did you take more?
Electives Enhance Your College Application
Academic-heavy electives are a great way to boost your college applications.
When you can take extra academic classes like writing, public speaking, and ACT prep, then colleges will see that and know that you have prepared yourself to handle the academic load in college.
Another way to enhance your college application is to take Advanced Placement or Honors classes. This is a great way to enhance your application.
Electives in High School
Middle school students will want to get a head start in planning out which electives in high school will be best for their future goals. Again, start with the end in mind and work back from there.
What will future colleges or employers want you to know or have experience in? Which fields do you want to try? Can you find an elective to fill that need?
There are also scholarships for homeschoolers that can be based on which classes your student takes in high school in addition to future career goals.
Choosing High School Electives
When you’re choosing high school electives, begin with graduation requirements and then add in class options from there. What are the core classes?
Then consider your student’s interests, abilities, talents, hobbies, future career goals, and the availability of certain classes. Research colleges they want to apply to and see what those colleges are looking for as well. Then, follow our best tips below.
Best Tips for Choosing High School Electives
Pursue Your Interests
Individual determination is a great reason for young people to choose certain electives. In other words, pursue your interests!
If you are a budding photographer in high school, go all the way into that interest and see how many electives you can take that align with that talent.
Take Courses That Colleges Recommend
Of course, if you plan to attend college after homeschool graduation, you’ll want to take courses that colleges recommend.
At the bare minimum, this is usually English, math, history, science, and foreign language.
Then, many colleges will want to see advanced studies in the subject area of your planned future study. A student who plans to study English during the college years, for example, may want to take electives such as journalism, speech, debate, and writing.
Consider Your Chosen Career Path
Some career paths will focus on learning a trade or a billable skill that you can use even right out of high school.
Students will career goals in a field such as welding will benefit from trade electives in high school, focusing on learning those future skills that will provide an income.
If you’re leaning toward becoming an accountant, then you’ll want to take common high school electives such as personal finance or business math or accounting in high school to get early experience in those future areas of your chosen career path.
What are Some High School Electives?
If you’re looking for specific high school electives based on subject-area, then here’s some inspiration for you to get the creative juices flowing as you craft a high school plan for your student. Are you having a hard time finding certain electives?
Consider patterning with homeschool co-ops in your area to offer electives taught by local experts in the field.
Foreign Language Electives
Learning a second language is a smart plan in high school. A foreign language course makes a great elective class. And if your student can take multiple years of a foreign language, their transcript will look even better!
You can consider the traditional foreign language classes or branch out with these other course options.
Spanish, French, Mandarin, American Sign Language, Hebrew, Russian
Personal Finance Elective Courses
Personal Finance Elective Courses are a great way to give your students crucial life-skills in money management and budgeting. Check out these consumer math worksheets plus these course options below.
Introduction to Business, Accounting, Personal Finance, Consumer Education, Marketing
Fine Arts Elective Courses
Whether or not you want to pursue fine arts in your future career goals, taking fine arts elective courses is good for everyone because it gives you a creative outlet.
Whether you choose to learn to play an instrument, sing, act, or paint, fine arts elective courses can be a nice break from the “hard core” academic electives.
Orchestra, Marching Band, Music Theory, Choir, Dance, Drama, Guitar, Piano, Painting, Photography, Ceramics, Art History, Film Production
Life Skills and Health Courses
Some students will want to take life skills and health courses as their electives. Teaching lifeskills will give students practical knowledge and experience to use in real life, no matter what they pursue as a career.
Some examples of these electives would include culinary arts, budgeting and personal finance, family life or early childhood development, and home economics.
CPR Training, Culinary Arts, Family Studies, Nutrition, Early Childhood Development, Driver Education, Fire Science, Health, Weight Training, Lifeguard Training
Biblical Worldview Elective Courses
If you want to give your teens a solid foundation in a Christian worldview, then strongly consider Biblical Worldview elective courses. There are so many options available now for homeschool families that will give your students practice in critical thinking from a Biblical perspective.
Biblical Worldview, Personal Evangelism, Cults and Worldviews, Biblical Leadership
IT & Computer Electives
Your future software developers will love taking some IT and computer programming electives. Students who take IT and computer electives will have the benefit of having a solid transcript or resume for a lucrative career in the field.
Plus, they’ll be learning key skills that will open up many doors of opportunity for them, no matter their future field of study. All in all, having skills in the computer field is a smart idea in today’s technology-driven culture.
Web Design, Computer Repair, Computer Programming, App Development, Film Production, Media Technology
Study Skills Electives
The best time to focus on organizational skills is in the high school years. And the most efficient way to learn these skills is to take Study Skills Electives. Whether your student opts to take an ACT prep class or a more general study skills class, they will benefit immensely from this specific instruction.
ACT Prep, Study Skills, Notetaking, Reading Comprehension
Business Elective Courses
Some teens want to start their own business, so including Business Elective Courses on the transcript can be a helpful way to help them grow in this area.
Marketing, Introduction to Business, Business Management, Accounting
Some students know exactly the vocation they want to pursue after high school graduation. Some will attend trade schools instead of college. For these students who may or may not be attending college, including vocation electives can help them get a head start learning specific skills to use in the real world.
Auto Body Repair, Cosmetology, Plumbing, Woodworking, JROTC, Building Construction
FAQ About High School Electives
Here are some frequently asked questions about elective options for your high school program.
What’s the difference between elective and core subjects?
The core subjects are required for graduation. These would include academic subjects like language arts, math, science, and social studies. Electives are courses that are usually not required for graduation and can vary widely from the core curriculum and common subject areas listed above.
These electives make the high school experience more interesting and also customizable based on your unique interests or future goals. You can study all different things when you take high school electives, from poetry to pottery or personal finance to culinary arts.
What is the best elective to take in high school?
The question of which elective is best to take in high school will be entirely dependent on the individual student. Each person’s talents, goals, and abilities vary so much that there is not one right answer here.
What are some fun high school electives?
There are many fun electives that you could take in high school. Which area do you not have much exposure to right now? That would be a great area to try as an elective. So, if you’re more of a science person, you may find fine arts to be a fun alternative to your normal classes.
Or, if your high school schedule requires highly rigorous AP classes, you may love to try a more hands-on life skills class or a creative pursuit. Here are some fun high school electives: Sculpture, Jewelry design, Dance, Lifeguard Training, Drama, Fashion Construction, Video Game Development
What’s the easiest elective in high school?
The easiest elective in high school is likely the one that you don’t need to spend as much time on. Or, the most interesting electives to you tend to be the easiest. So, if you already love computer science and know about computer repair, an IT or computer science elective like Video Game Development may be easiest for you.
Conversely, someone who already is into the performing arts may find that Drama is the easiest elective because it comes naturally to them. So this is another subjective question that doesn’t have one simple answer.
What are the hardest electives?
The hardest electives are likely those classes that get you out of your normal comfort zone and ask you to learn something new. However, most people would probably agree that classes like App Development, advanced foreign language study, or math classes like Probability and statistics may be some of the hardest because they require a degree of competency.
What electives do most high schools offer?
Most high schools offer foreign language electives in addition to courses such as programming, graphic design, psychology, drawing, photography, choir, band, and speech.
What is the easiest elective?
The easiest elective may be an introductory class that doesn’t dive too deep into the subject matter. Consider electives like physical education, pottery, group piano, psychology, cooking, or acting.
Do electives affect your GPA?
Yes, electives do typically affect your high school GPAs. Any class that you take toward high school credits will also affect your GPA.
What’s the difference between high school electives and extra-curricular activities?
High school electives are courses outside the core requirements that you decide to take. these classes receive a grade on the transcript. In contrast, extra-curricular activities are not classes, but are activities that you may participate in that do not receive a letter grade or affect the overall course load.
These could include student government, sports, hobbies, and clubs. Both electives and extra-curricular activities are important aspects of a well-rounded high school experience.
With so many options available even for homeschool high school students these days, there’s no reason you can’t craft a unique and customized high school electives plan to fit your student! High school electives are a great way to experience new fields, hone particular skills, and prepare for the future.
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