Current elective format works

Meghan Shelley, Opinions Editor

School electives present students with a unique opportunity to expand upon their interests, or try out a new activity while in class. Credit requirements in multiple different fields have students trying a vast range of subjects. Before they graduate, BHS students must fulfill credits in Visual and Performing Arts, Financial Literacy and Technology and Research, as well as 21st Century Life and Careers.

Some students are frustrated by these requirements, as it forces them to dedicate about a semester or more to each subject. 

However, despite initial resistance, students may find they enjoy a class far more than they anticipated. This may result in the discovery of a new interest students would have otherwise never realized.

While it may be uncomfortable for students to step outside their comfort zones, it also presents a unique opportunity to learn something new with the guidance of skilled teachers and hands-on experience.

It is understandable that students who feel they have already decided the career path they want to pursue may want to take electives that coincide with their interests, but to limit their potential to one field would cause students to miss out on the opportunity to discover a new passion.

The Director of Guidance, Mrs. Walker commented, “Having diverse course offerings and requirements in those areas allows students to explore their passion and tap into hidden talents. Conversely, it may also allow students to learn more about what they don’t like, which can help a student rule out potential career paths that won’t align with their interests and skill set…It’s better to try various courses now instead of paying hefty tuition for them later only to find out you don’t like the subject area.”

There is also the possibility that a student may get to college having spent the entirety of high school focused on one subject, and realize they no longer want to pursue that specific career. This creates a problem for students who have not branched out, and may feel trapped into this field, having devoted so much time to it already.

Mrs. Walker elaborates, “Additionally, colleges understand that students are required to fulfill course obligations in a variety of subject areas, so they expect to see diverse course enrollments on transcripts. Typically, students aren’t choosing a major/concentration in high school, but by taking a wide range of courses in high school, it may lead to clarity when they have to declare one in college.”

Moreover, if the student has not had time to experiment with interests throughout highschool, by the time they graduate and may begin to feel burnt out on their subject of choice, they will not know what other subjects interest them, having not experienced anything else.

Before graduating and plunging head first into the real world, students should have the chance to experiment with multiple interests. BHS offers the perfect opportunity to try something new, with free resources the outside world does not offer.

That is to say, if a student is interested in learning pottery or painting, they have access to a multitude of art supplies and can consult with experienced art teachers who can help guide them throughout the process. Or, if a student elects to take a technology course, they are provided with advanced computer programs and teachers who are well versed in coding, photoshop, and more, to help them achieve their goals.

These are resources that are not as readily available outside of high school, and certainly not free of expense. Many students may neglect to realize the importance of utilizing these resources and making the most of the opportunity, which is why it is so important electives are required in multiple fields.

Mrs. Walker also notes that “the state of New Jersey requires students to take courses in a variety of areas. I think that it’s important to be well-rounded and these requirements enable students to explore different course options that they may not have pursued if there were no mandates.”

Despite not necessarily being subject to change, students continue to have options, Mrs. Walker wants students to know, “If (they) have ideas for new courses, they can always speak with me or a curriculum supervisor.”

She also encourages students to look on the bright side, “I would encourage students to try to see the benefits of learning some new skills–they may come in handy one day!  There are often multiple ways to satisfy some of the state graduation requirements, so try to tailor your courses to align with your interests whenever possible.”

To avoid problems such as students boxing themselves into a field too early on, elective requirements are necessary to give students the push they need to try something new. At its worst, a student may not like a class they take. At it’s best, elective requirements may change a student’s life for the better.