The Best High School Electives List and Guide

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

High school electives can be a great way to shape or strengthen your interests and skills in a particular topic. But, choosing classes for high school electives can be challenging; there is such a wide variety of topics to pick from! It’s helpful to start with a comprehensive list to guide your decision for high school electives.

You’re just in luck! This article is the ultimate guide on high school electives. We are going to provide you with the best high school electives list to choose from! By the end of this article, you should know why electives are importance in high school, which classes are considered good high school electives, how many electives you can take in high school, and other creative electives to get you thinking outside the box.

What are Elective Classes and How Many Do You Typically Get?

What are Elective Classes and How Many Do You Typically Get?

What are Elective Classes and How Many Do You Typically Get?

Let’s start with the basics first!

What exactly are elective classes?

By definition, electives are classes that fall outside of the main core subject areas; you get to choose these based on your own personal interests. Elective classes can be used to benefit your skills, professional development for your future career, or personal hobbies.

There are also different levels of elective classes! Electives can be taken at a regular, honors, or advanced placement level. Make sure to explore these options to encourage your intellectual growth!

Now, how many elective classes do students typically get?

The average number of elective classes students get vary by each high school. Usually, electives are taken to complete the full number of credits you need to graduate. So, take as many as you need to complete your required number of credits as instructed by your institution.

But, if you’re interested in accomplishing more, you can always consider internships or other volunteering opportunities based on your growing interests.

Why are Electives Important?

Why are Electives Important?

Why are Electives Important?

If it’s not required, then why are electives even important in high school?

Let’s walk through a brief overview of all the benefits you can gain from elective classes.

Enrich Personal Interests

Electives are important because the classes are designed to encourage your exploration of personal interests or career goals. For example, it might be the case that you’ve always wanted to learn about film production, but never got a chance to read about it in your school’s required coursework. This is a chance to prepare yourself for your future film-making career.

Increase Grade Point Average

Electives can also be a great opportunity to help increase your grade point average (GPA). Maybe those tough algebra courses really compromised your 4.0; this might be a chance to take a practical class that will strengthen your GPA for college applications.

Strengthen College Application

Speaking of college applications, if you are strategic enough with your selection of electives, you have the opportunity to strengthen your candidacy as an applicant. Colleges love well-rounded candidates; students who can demonstrate curiosity and openness to learning new skills.

Do Elective Classes Count Towards Your GPA?

Do Elective Classes Count Towards Your GPA?

Most high schools will include all your electives in calculating your cumulative GPA. We mentioned that one of the benefits to taking electives is having the opportunity to increase your GPA in the Why are Electives Important section. So, these elective classes most certainly count towards your GPA and toward the credits you need to graduate.

Since electives are usually skills-based, performance, and activity-oriented, this might be an easy way to get an A. Strategizing is extremely important here! We going to make sure you have the right strategies on how to choose your high school electives in the next section.

How to Choose Your High School Electives

How to Choose Your High School Electives

How to Choose Your High School Electives

Choosing high school electives can be hard since there are so many to choose from! High school electives are also based on interest. You might not even know what these interests are yet, but you will come to know this soon.

Choosing your high school electives isn’t as formulaic as we’d like; but we’re happy to provide some tips on the best ways to choose good high school electives that will both benefit you, your skills, and your GPA.

Starting tips to choose your high school electives:

Try something new

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn more about, but never had the chance to? Is there something you’ve always wanted to see you could master as a challenge?

Follow your passions

Maybe you already have an interest in mind that is specific to your dreams or career goals. If your school offers the opportunity, make sure to follow your passions to determine whether these goals are the right fit for you.

Find opportunity

Some electives can actually reduce your after-school commitment, while still enriching your skills and interests. Take advantage of classes that may balance your time rather than crunch it even further; this might even give you more time to study for college entrance exams.

What are the Most Common High School Electives?

What are the Most Common High School Electives?

What are the Most Common High School Electives?

We also encourage you to start your search with the most common high school electives. Sometimes schools may not have electives with the right interest or skill that you need or prefer. To ease this process, we have created a list of the most common high school electives that are offered in most schools across the U.S.

As you go through this list, note the ones that might interest you the most. Do a little more research on what the classes might look like. Maybe even ask a former classmate about their experiences.

All this should inform your strategy in choosing your high school electives.

Vocational Education

  • Electronics
  • Driver education
  • Woodworking
  • Networking
  • Metalworking
  • Robotics
  • Auto repair
  • Computer-aided drafting
  • Cosmetology
  • Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC)
  • Future Farmers of America (FFA)

Visual Arts

  • Ceramics
  • Art history
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Printmaking
  • Photography
  • Film production
  • Digital media

Performing Arts

  • Choir
  • Drama
  • Dance
  • Concert Band
  • Jazz band
  • Marching band
  • Orchestra
  • Music theory

Family & Consumer Science

  • Fashion design
  • Nutrition
  • Culinary arts
  • Home economics
  • Family and consumer science
  • Retail marketing
  • Cardiac pulmonary recitation (CPR)

Business

  • Accounting
  • Business
  • Personal finance
  • Marketing
  • Entrepreneurship

Physical Education

  • Health
  • Physical education
  • Yoga
  • Aerobics
  • Weight training
  • Swimming
  • Wellness
  • Team sports
  • Gymnastics
  • Racket sports

Computer Science & Information Technology

  • Media studies
  • Word processing
  • Film production
  • Computer literacy
  • Computer science
  • Graphic design
  • Music production
  • Web design
  • Computer programming

What are the Easiest Electives in High School?

What are the Easiest Electives in High School?

What are the Easiest Electives in High School?

We’ve talked about the most common electives in high school to ease your search and to avoid the risk of getting your hopes up, in case your school does not offer what you want.

Now, let’s talk about the easiest electives you can take in high school to improve your GPA and to strengthen your college application. We’ve created a list of the easiest electives in high school to get you to start thinking about which ones strike your interest while also seeming least obtrusive to your afterschool schedule.

As a side note, we consider these electives easy because they might already be topics that interest you and you will apply in the future. We do not mean it will easy to do without any form of commitment. You are still required to show up and engage in the learning process.

Remember that this might be a chance to get more after-school time to study for college preparation exams, volunteer work, or exercising. Just make sure to use that extra time wisely and directly for the benefit of your future goals.

Band

Not totally easy to do well in, but it is practice-based. You also get to take trips to events outside of the state, collaborate with other bands, and perform in public ovations. We think it’s easy because you’ll just need to use a different part of your brain to foster your skills in band which might exhaust you less than taking another calculous class.

Theater

You might just learn how to run a place by managing light exposure, painting props, or acting.

Life skills

At the very least, you should know how to make a grilled cheese. Electives in life skills will teach you these secrets and more. The options might also include how to manage your finances, how mortgages work, how to change a diaper, etc. Basic life skills should be easy to manage and will completely transform your life for the better.

Physical Education

Imagine a class where all you have to do is work on your fitness and learn about ways to improve your physical health. Not only is it totally essential to the sustainability of your life past 30, but you will have fun doing it. Options can include exercise classes, sport teams, weightlifting, wrestling, etc. If you act like you’re trying hard and giving it all your best, you will get an A.

Woodworking

Who doesn’t love to build their own bookshelves or furniture? This is an easy elective because you don’t necessarily have to bring any work home with you; unless you have all the tools in your home. Woodworking can be a peaceful process that enriches your creative side!

What are the Hardest Electives in High School?

What are the Hardest Electives in High School?

What are the Hardest Electives in High School?

What about the hardest electives in high school? While we think it’s important to challenge yourself and push your growth; we also think that electives should not be a point of distress.

Remember that you are picking these electives intentionally based on your own self-interests. That is, is the elective relevant to what you want to do in your career? Is the elective a skill that you would use later on in life? Is it one of your passions?

If the answer to all these questions is a resounding no, then you’ve selected one of the hardest electives. You also need to consider whether an elective is the right fit for you.

For instance, physical education might be considered one of the hardest electives in high school to one person because they dealt with a disability or were being bullied.

Be intentional about your selections and apply the tips we showed you in How to Choose Your High School Electives to avoid making electives harder than they should be.

What are Some Must Take High School Electives?

What are Some Must Take High School Electives?

What are Some Must Take High School Electives?

Now that we’ve talked about what would make an elective easier or more difficult to take, we also want to talk about some of the most essential high school electives. What are some of the must take high school electives?

We’ve based our selection on high school electives that would provide you with the most practical foundational skills that you would need in the workplace or other type of professional setting. Let’s name a few to start you off!

A foreign language

How many people tell you that they took Spanish in high school? Ask around! Consider taking an elective in a foreign language; these could range from Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, to American Sign Language (ASL).

Learning a language outside of your native tongue is a great advantage because it demonstrates willingness to learn about other cultures and is typically a requirement for some competitive colleges. It also shows how much cognitive flexibility you’re capable of; research shows that speaking more than one language can increase your intellectual focus!

Personal Finance

We know we’ve exhausted this option throughout this article. But, personal finance is really that important and certainly a must-take high school elective. Learning more about the foundational concepts and best practices for personal finance can help you understand credit, how buying a house or car works, what the difference between a checking account or savings account is, and what in the world a 401K is.

Public Speaking

Public speaking might terrify some people; but the only way to get good at it is to practice. And, the best way to practice is to understand the basic tenets of good public speaking. So, this is another must-take high school elective that will absolutely help you in the long-run, particularly as a professional.

The Ultimate High School Electives List

The Ultimate High School Electives List

The Ultimate High School Electives List

We’ve provided you with an overview of what elective classes are, their importance on your academic progress, and some brief strategies on how to choose the right one.

Now, you are finally ready for the ultimate high school electives list. Use this list as an initial guide to explore topics that might interest you more than you think. We encourage you to do additional research to find more information on ways to apply these topics into your skills or professional goals.

Math

Most people think electives in math are designed for people who love math. That person might be you! If you truly are passionate about mathematics, there are an array of elective classes you can take to hone your skills.

Visual Arts

Electives in visual arts can be used to explore the elements and principles of art in greater depth. You have options to explore different mediums to express arts, as well! Some common topics in visual arts include:

  • 3-D art
  • Art history
  • Ceramics
  • Digital media
  • Drawing
  • Film production
  • Jewelry design
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture

Foreign Language

We talked briefly about elective classes in foreign language in the What are Some Must Take High School Electives? section. Remember how beneficial these can be for your college applications and for your cognitive flexibility! Here’s an extensive list of languages that you can learn:

  • American Sign Language
  • Ancient Greek
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Latin
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish

Performing Arts

Electives in performing arts are another opportunity to explore different art forms and to enrich your understanding of them. Similar to visual arts, these attempt to use your body, voice, or hands. The most common topics in performing arts can include:

  • Choir
  • Concert band
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Guitar
  • Jazz band
  • Marching band
  • Music theory
  • Orchestra
  • Percussion
  • Piano
  • Theater technology
  • World music

Family and Consumer Science

Electives in family and consumer science are typically classes designed to improve your overall quality of life. It integrates academic disciplines with real world applications. The most common topics in family and consumer science can include:

  • Chemistry of foods
  • CPR training
  • Culinary arts
  • Early childhood development
  • Early childhood education
  • Family studies
  • Fashion and retail merchandising
  • Fashion construction
  • Home economics
  • Interior design
  • Nutrition

Physical Education

Electives in physical education are focused on developing and refining your skills and knowledge in physical fitness, health, or athletic activities. These electives can also focus on strength building and condition of your overall fitness. The most common topics in physical education can include:

  • Aerobics
  • Dance
  • Gymnastics
  • Health
  • Lifeguard training
  • Pilates
  • Racquet sports
  • Specialized sports
  • Swimming
  • Weight training
  • Yoga

Business

Business

Electives in business are classes designed to provide you with foundational concepts for future career goals or other essential topics you should master in your everyday life (e.g., finances). The most common topics in business can include:

  • Accounting
  • Business law
  • Business management
  • Consumer education
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Introduction to business
  • Marketing
  • Personal finance

Language and Writing

Electives in language and writing are specifically designed to develop your way of conveying ideas or concepts in alternate forms (e.g., poetry, creative writing). It can also be a way of advancing your knowledge on historical understandings of language for a specific culture or group. Here is an extensive list of potential elective classes you can take:

  • Advanced composition
  • African literature
  • Asian literature
  • British literature
  • Cinema studies
  • Contemporary literature
  • Creative writing
  • Debate
  • Film study
  • Gothic literature
  • Humanities
  • Journalism
  • Poetry
  • Popular literature
  • Practical writing
  • Public speaking
  • Rhetoric
  • School yearbook
  • Works of Shakespeare
  • World literature

Vocational Education

Electives in vocational education often focus on developing a specific skill to prepare you for a career or technical job. Here is a list of most topics in vocational education below:

  • Auto body repair
  • Auto mechanics
  • Building construction
  • Computer-aided drafting
  • Cosmetology
  • Criminal justice
  • Driver Education
  • Electronics
  • FFA (Future Farmers of America)
  • Fire science
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Hospitality and tourism
  • JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps)
  • Metalworking
  • Networking
  • Plumbing
  • Production technology
  • Refrigeration fundamentals
  • Robotics
  • Woodworking

Computer Science/Information Technology

Similar to business, electives in computer science and information technology are designed to provide foundational concepts, skills, and principles in computer, technology, or design. Essentially, this is a great learning opportunity to learn about computational thinking, design solutions, word processing, and so on. The most common topics in computer science and information technology can include:

  • Animation
  • App development
  • Audio production
  • Computer programming
  • Computer repair
  • Film production
  • Graphic design
  • Media technology
  • Music production
  • Typing
  • Video game development
  • Web design
  • Web programming
  • Word processing

You can also choose independent study topics as creative electives in a subject you want more expertise in. Here is a list of examples to use for creative electives.

Science

Social Studies

Remember that your school may not offer all of these; but you can always talk to your guidance counselor or school department to see if they might have something similar.

Wrapping Things Up: Choosing High School Electives

High school electives can greatly benefit your interests, passions, and even enhance your college application! Knowing how to choose good high school electives relevant to your needs doesn’t have to be challenging. Use our ultimate list of high school electives to start filtering your personal interests and researching how you can use it for your own benefit.

The most important thing to remember is to choose something that will ultimately help you in the long run, whether it’s professional or practical to your everyday life. Don’t get stuck with an elective that did nothing for you! Make sure to be strategic and creative when selecting your high school electives.

Did you enjoy this post? Then you may also want to check out some of our other high school study tips or all our posts. Here are a few of our top picks:

> How to Improve Your Study Habits

> How to Be Successful in High School

> How to Get Straight A’s

> How to Study Smart

> How to Cram for an Exam

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on pinterest
Pinterest

Readers of this post also read...