When it comes to signing up for high school classes, choosing electives can be fun or overwhelming. Electives are one of the rare opportunities to step away from the required core classes that everyone has to take. Some people will sign up for certain electives simply because of an interest in the class. Other people will stress out a little bit more over choosing an elective. They know how important those extra classes can be for a college transcript.
Approaches for choosing an electives
1. Electives FOR FRIENDS
Unfortunately, this is a big reason why some high schoolers choose a certain elective. They sign up for whatever electives their friends are taking so they have more time to hang out. While it might make for a good time, this approach will have the least positive impact on your college application.
2. ELECTIVES FOR FUN
Some students will sign up for electives that they see as “fun” or engaging. They sign up for things that they have an interest in or enjoy doing. They may not want to continue doing this activity in the future, but it is something they are passionate about for the present. This is not necessarily a bad approach. It does still display something personal about you on your college application, but it is not always the most beneficial.
3. ELECTIVES FOR FUTURE
Other students will choose a course that lines up with their career goals. This is the approach that can help your application the most. Choosing an elective based on your plans for your future can help you gain exposure and experience. This approach allows you to explore professional options at an early age. For example, someone who wants to major in the arts in college may gravitate towards creative electives like art or photography. Whereas, someone who wants to major in the sciences may sign up for psychology or anatomy. Many colleges like to see applicants that are already taking steps towards any career goals. This is especially important if you mention those career goals anywhere in your college application.
In a perfect world, you can find a balance of people, passion and practicality in an elective. Once you have the right approach for choosing an elective, then you can move on to the actual classes themselves. There are four main categories to consider when choosing an elective that can boost your college application. These categories are academic skills, billable skills, lifestyle skills, and college “track.”
High School Elective Categories
1. ACADEMIC SKILLS
There are always several options that will help you with academics in college. Some of these include ACT prep, public speaking, and any type of writing elective. Basically, anything that helps you learn how to synthesize, write, or present is going to help you immensely in college. You will synthesize, write, and present in most of your college classes. Seeing these skills on a high school transcript will make a college more confident that you can handle the workload they are going to give you.
2. BILLABLE SKILLS
Another option when it comes to signing up for electives in high school is a category you might call “billable skills.” This means anything that you could potentially get paid for. Billable skills are the “career” part of “career and college ready.” Some schools will offer electives that teach trade school type skills. Students can begin to put these skills to use immediately after high school.
3. LIFESTYLE SKILLS
A more academic or work focused class may not interest everyone. Instead, you might consider signing up for an elective that can boost your lifestyle skills. This category might include electives like finances or budgeting and home economics or family living.
4. COLLEGE “TRACK”
Some schools may even offer a set of exclusive electives. These are often geared towards students who are already confident in what they want to study for their career and their future. For example, some students have had the opportunity to take high school electives that focus on law or medicine. These classes are often more project based and sometimes may even include some hands-on experience in the field.
All four of these categories bring their own special expertise to the table. The beauty of electives is that you usually have more choice and freedom here than you do in your core classes. At the end of the day, certain electives can both boost your skills for a college application and can show off a little bit of your personality.
So remember, find a balance of people, passion, and practicality in your approach to your elective. Then choose an elective that displays your personality, boosts your personal skills, or develops your professional skills.
Oh, and calculus. If you haven’t taken calculus yet, you might want to consider signing up for that instead of a typical elective. Calculus makes you competitive for college admission.