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High School Electives

High school is a time filled with discovering new interests, building friendships, and fateful leaps outside your comfort zone. It is the transition period between elementary school and post-secondary endeavours. With an immense gain in independence and responsibility, it is when teenagers mature into young adults. It is evident that high school is a significant time of learning and growing, with all things considered.

Choosing electives is a significant component of high school education. It allows students to build their path and immerse themselves in topics they are interested in. With course selection dates for many schools approaching soon, you may find yourself struggling to decide among the vast variety of electives offered. If this sounds hauntingly familiar, you are in the right place! This article provides a glimpse into the many high school electives to assist you in course selection for the next school year.

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Importance of Electives

High schools will often require students to take certain core academic subjects. These can include mathematics, English, science, history, physical education, and language studies such as French. Elective courses are classes beyond the required curriculum that are taken by choice. Space for these classes may be limited in grades 9 and 10, but as students approach senior grades, they usually experience more freedom in choosing their course schedule.

Elective courses are valuable for many reasons. Not only do they grant students the opportunity to choose what they wish to study, but they also allow learning to expand beyond the traditional classroom. Electives will help students uncover talents, develop passions, and spark interests in topics that may even advance into careers. Studying these unique subjects under teachers with distinctive expertise creates the opportunity to learn something you otherwise may not get the chance to! Furthermore, selecting enriching electives can help students stand out in college or university admissions. In many cases, a student’s course selection will express who they are and highlight individual interests, abilities, and hobbies. Lastly, elective courses can act as breaks to keep students engaged and motivated throughout an academic-heavy school day.

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List of Elective Courses

The Arts

Unleash your creativity through the various forms of art! Whether you choose to express yourself by painting artwork, playing music, or capturing photos, art classes stimulate the brain and promote creative learning. Here are a few examples of classes within The Arts department:

  • Band

  • Choir

  • Dance

  • Drama

  • Guitar

  • Keyboard

  • Photography

  • Visual Arts

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Learn and develop vital transferable skills in business classes! With their practicality and usefulness in the economic world, business courses can help you improve communication skills, build confidence, and discover potential career paths. Here are a few examples of classes within the Business department:

  • Business Leadership

  • Entrepreneurship

  • Financial Accounting

  • International Business

  • Personal Finance

  • Marketing

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Language Studies

Studying a foreign language is extremely valuable, especially for teenagers. Opening your mind to a new language has numerous benefits, from strengthening your brain, establishing a competitive edge in job applications, and appreciating cultural diversity on a deeper level. Learning a new language is certainly not an easy task, but as the prevailing saying goes, “practice makes perfect!” Taking a language course will both encourage and hold you accountable for your learning.

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Physical Education

Who wouldn’t want to get active, get outside, and soak up the sunshine during the school day? Physical activity is vital for healthy development in all ages, especially for teenagers who often lack a proper daily exercise amount. In Physical Education classes, you will find yourself developing good exercise habits, studying health and nutrition, and building confidence and motor skills as well! You may even consider taking focus courses such as football, hockey, fitness, yoga, and more.

Social Sciences/Humanities

If you wish to broaden your knowledge of society and human behaviour, take a deeper dive into the analysis of societal trends and norms, culture, social structures, power dynamics, and much more. Here are a few examples of classes within the Social Science and Humanities department:

  • Culinary Studies

  • Early Childhood Development

  • Economics

  • Food and Nutrition

  • Genocide Studies

  • Philosophy

  • Psychology

  • World Religions

Computer Science/Technology

Are you intrigued by the ever-growing digital world of technology? Do you have plans of pursuing an engineering degree in the future? If so, consider taking a course in the department of Computer Science and Technology! By studying coding languages, computer programs, and the components of various technological systems, you can develop problem solving skills and exercise your ability to think outside the box. Here are a few examples of classes within the Computer Science and Technology department:

  • Animation

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Science

  • Construction Engineering

  • Graphic Design

  • Technological Design

  • Transportation Technology

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Choosing Electives

While the above list focuses on commonly offered courses, availability will vary among individual schools and school boards depending on the resources available. You can browse through courses offered in your area by searching for provincial course catalogues. Determine your school-specific course catalogue by visiting the school website or consulting your guidance counsellor.

Choosing electives for your course schedule can be daunting. Especially with numerous choices and limited elective spots in your timetable, the task can feel overwhelming. The first step is to determine the electives your school offers and how many courses you can choose. It is also a good idea to consider graduation requirements. In many cases, students must achieve certain credits through electives. Also, you may want to take into consideration the heaviness of your course load. The next step is to choose your electives. When doing so, seek out classes that will interest you, whether through trying something new or expanding on a skill or hobby you already possess. Electives related to your academic focus are also worthwhile courses to consider, as they advance and prepare you for future career endeavours.


Overall, electives give students the freedom to pursue their subjects of interest. With the potential to broaden knowledge, motivate learning, and spark lifelong passions that you will carry into adulthood, elective courses are undoubtedly vital in the high school experience.





Article Author: Victoria Huang

Article Editors: Stephanie Sahadeo, Maria Giroux