It may have been years since I was in high school. However, I still recall loving the freedom I was given when selecting the best electives in high school which allowed me to pursue my interests or create a balanced ‘portfolio’ of coursework for college applications. Some were courses that fit with college entrance requirements, some were focused on life skills and some were in line with my interests. Back then, computer science was an elective alongside typing! What a change in what is considered more core than when some of us were younger.
As a homeschool parent, you are in a unique position to help your child select the electives which best meet their needs. It just might be that you think a little outside the box to get them there.
Selecting the Best Electives in High School: Meeting College Entrance Requirements
When it comes time to apply for colleges, your student might find that there are some entrance requirements that look a lot like elective courses.
Foreign languages is one such requirement for some schools. Many want to see 2 years of the same language on a student’s transcript. Yet, it is not considered a ‘must have’ course for graduation in most districts around the United States. So, those 2 years of French, German, Spanish or whatever other language your child decides to learn would be considered 2 elective credits.
My eldest son completed Spanish 1 through the use of Homeschool Spanish Academy. It is a slightly more expensive option for learning a language and definitely can eat into your pocketbook if they move at a slow pace or miss a few lessons (as you don’t get to reschedule once missed.) However, the tutorial approach where they are Skyping one on one with a native speaker can not be beat. He still remembers many of the phrases that were drilled into him during that year. We started Spanish 2 using Middlebury Interactive Languages, but he ended up dropping the course when he realized none of the colleges he was considering required it.
Definitely check out those potential schools for post high school studies to see what they are looking for on high school transcripts. Keep in mind that some have physical fitness requirements, too. My nephew is attending a summer program at Cornell for rising seniors. He is very interested in going there and learned that he’d have to pass a swim test to matriculate as a student there. Apparently, this is not an uncommon requirement for schools in the New England area, too. Advance warning means he can brush up his skills or get into a swim class to be considered competent.
Selecting the Best Electives in High School: Pursing Interests
This is the one that can be easy or rather difficult depending upon what your child is longing to do.
My eldest son is beyond fascinated with flying. He is especially interested in learning to fly a helicopter, although he knows you have to start with fixed wing planes first. Getting a pilot license is not an uncommon event up here in Alaska as small planes are all over the place and often the only mode of transportation to a remote site.
He was fortunate to spend a month at GILA (boarding school run by the Galena School District which also runs our homeschool charter group) with an aviation intensive. He has not pursued it more right now given the cost, but we have friends with children in Civil Air Patrol because they want to learn to fly.
My second born son is very interested in the culinary arts. He is applying for a similar one month intensive at GILA through our charter school to get a taste for what it really entails. The culinary arts students there learn mostly through hands on preparation of the lunches and dinners for all GILA students under the watchful eye of 2 4-star chefs.
Should he go and find it a great fit for him, then we will be pursuing options through University of Alaska Anchorage to take a few courses as electives for high school that would also provide him with college credit. One of his friends has been doing that and has found a knack with desserts. Both of the boys are more interested in going to a vocational school for an associates if culinary arts is what they pursue post high school.
Other subjects that might be more interest driven are the fine arts, whether they are creating with a paintbrush or playing music with an instrument. Someone that is interested in drama might be well served spending a semester on speech as well. I did that one in high school and it was my speech teacher who led drama club. My being cast in the role of Lillian Gilbreth for “Cheaper by the Dozen” during my sophomore year was a direct result of her hearing me in speech class.
Selecting the Best Electives in High School: Life Skills
Our charter school actually requires that each student take a semester long life skills course. There are a lot of options for what will count towards this requirement. P took personal finance in his junior year which I considered a valuable course to help prepare students for the fiscal realities of life as an adult. During the spring semester of his senior year he took driver’s education.
When I was in high school, there was a course that wove together basic cooking, sewing, and personal finances into one semester. I’ll admit that it was nice to have a ‘lighter’ course where I learned about balancing my checkbook, making a budget, preparing basic dishes, and knowing how to sew on buttons and hem a pair of pants.
Selecting the Best Electives in High School: Work Study Options
For years, learning a trade meant that you apprenticed with an experienced individual. Even today, there are many fields where books only get you so far. If you want to pursue the knowledge, you need to find that mentor who will work with you to get the experience.
When I was in high school, there was a work study option. Most of the time, it was a girl who spent part of her afternoon working in an office environment learning the trade of secretary or a guy working in a garage/shop honing skills learned in vo-tech courses. However, there were other possibilities as well if the student found the necessary environment and got approval from the school administration. As a home school parent, you are the administration and can work with your child to find someone in the community actively working in the field of interest.
One of my friends here has a son who is now a chef, but didn’t get his start in a formal program. Rather, he started working at a local restaurant during his senior year. He might have started as a bus boy, but quickly was given the chance to learn all aspects of the kitchen given his interest and willingness to learn.
Had I been more motivated to figure out how to make it a credit option, my eldest could have used his time working in the grocery department of the local Fred Meyer store as a work study. But, as it didn’t fit with what he needed for college, we left it as just a part-time job.
Read More on Electives in the High School Years
- Chareen at Every Bed of Roses with thoughts on Electives in the High School Years
- Debbie at Debbie’s Homeschool Corner shares Electives: The Fun Part of High School
- Carol over at Home Sweet Life on Homeschooling High School ~ Electives
- April from ElCloud Homeschool shares High School Homeschooling: Electives and Jobs
- Tess from Circling Through This Life shares on What about Electives? ~ Homeschool Highschool Blog Hop
- Leah from As We Walk Along the Road shares her thoughts on Choosing Electives for Homeschooling High School
- Kym at Homeschool Coffee Break shares on Customized Education and Electives
- Wendy at Life at Rossmont shares thoughts on High School Electives
- Gena over at I Choose Joy! shares Homeschool High School Public Speaking: Drama, Speech, and Debate
- Cristi from Through the Calm and Through the Storm shares on Interests + Opportunities = Electives
- Dawn Oaks at Double O Farms shares Just What Do You Do with Elective Requirements?
- Jennifer from A Glimpse of Our Life on High School Electives
- Michele at Family, Faith and Fridays shares How About Some Fun?
- Lisa at Golden Grasses says Frosting on the Cake- High School Electives, Jobs and College Prepping
- Meg from Adventures with Jude on High School Electives – Tasting the Real World
- Debra over at Footprints in the Butter asks Is your high schooler taking the “right” electives?
Have you homeschooled a child in high school or are you looking to begin that part of your journey soon?
What electives do you remember taking in high school?
How do you help your child select their elective courses?