Once you graduate from high school, you’re expected to choose a direction for the rest of your life – a career path or a college major. How can you know what you want to do if you don’t know what is out there? No teen in the normal course of their life can be expected to acquire a grasp of all the possibilities, without some help.
It's a process of discovery that can begin with taking electives in high school. Core courses such as math, language arts, science, and so on are broadly applicable to virtually any job, not to mention your personal life. But you may be attracted to careers that are not directly addressed in core subject areas. By taking electives, not only can you vary your classes in order to keep your studies stimulating, but you can also discover where your interests are.
Even if you don’t find a perfect fit via taking electives, you can at the very least gain better personal insight into what types of “thinking process” and topics are most appealing and for which you have the greatest aptitude. Are you creative, artistic, analytical, practical? Different types of jobs fit best with different personality and learning styles.
The earlier you find out what interests you and what you’re good at, the better choices you can make about college, too – not just considering different potential majors but perhaps altering which colleges you want to consider, too. If you want to focus on a particular subject, you’ll want to choose a college that excels in that department. In many cases, even highly rated colleges are not equally excellent across the board.
Get in touch with your “geeky” side.
As a country, the United States is making a concerted effort to encourage more students to enter STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math. How do you know engineering isn’t your calling if you never have any contact with what “engineering” actually entails? Engineers do an amazing variety of things.
Another example is health sciences electives.
To many people, “health sciences” means doctor, nurse or dentist. The truth is, there are many jobs that do not require an MD or other multiple-year advanced degree, yet they can be very interesting and rewarding. And the health-care field is growing exponentially.
Taking a basic course that teaches you about anatomy, or taking a career overview class can give you a good idea what types of careers are available in the health sciences and what type of learning is required. A health sciences course such as Pharmacy Technician can give you a leg up on a post-graduation career if you aren’t planning to attend college.
Foreign languages give you a boost in several ways.
You could become an oral interpreter or a document translator -- positions in great (and growing) demand in our global business and economic environment. Native English-speakers who also speak German or Chinese will face wide-open doors when it comes time to career choices, in government or with private companies.
German and French and Latin are the fundamental languages of the medical fields, so familiarizing yourself with one or more of these can be supremely helpful if you plan to pursue a health care career.
Studying a foreign language – even if you don’t become perfectly fluent – can be purely fun, too. And someday when you travel to a country that speaks the language, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to get around and actually converse with the locals. You’ll be able to see and experience first-hand the culture and history you learned as part of your language study.
Taking online high school electives can be an interesting, engaging way to round out your high school schedule, but they also give you a purposeful head start on the rest of your life.