The Importance of Electives

The Importance of Electives

Shayna Druckman, Staff Writer

I am a junior in high school this year, notoriously the most difficult and academically rigorous year of high school. While many students pack their schedules with countless honors and advanced placement (AP) classes while neglecting electives, this may not be the right decision. Other students dread the art and gym requirements they must fulfill and push them off or avoid them as much as possible. This year, I made sure to fit two electives, journalism and ceramics, into my schedule, and I always feel thankful to have these classes in the midst of my core academics! Here are just some of the reasons I think electives are so important to have in a school day:

They give you a break in the day that you can look forward to.

There is not a day when I do not look forward to going to my ceramics class! Electives are often fun and relaxing, providing a very different environment than your average math or english class. During a difficult class, I can look forward to the incentive of a fun activity or at least a less demanding assignment. I am more willing to put in extra effort in my tougher classes knowing that a break is soon to come. Instead of dragging through a nonstop series of rigorous academics, electives create a sense of excitement for a class during your day. After long period journalism my brain always feels refreshed and I am ready to take on my other difficult classes.

Electives offer unique curriculum that develops life and career-specific skills.

The content you learn in electives is often more specific and unique than that of your average math or history class. More than learning content in a state regulated format, electives teach you new skills such as pottery, cooking, or creative/journalistic writing. Electives introduce students to skills students might really enjoy and want to pursue as a career path or hobby in the future. Junior Kristen Deariano loves the creative freedom she gets in her ceramics class and has a new passion for the art form. Following two years of journalism, Stamford High alumnus Bryan Schwartz studies communications in college and reports for the school’s sports teams.

They actually look good on college resumes.

Even the Princeton Review website, which encourages students to take a rigorous course load filled with AP and honors classes, stresses the need for electives. The common misconception is that taking electives beyond the ones required makes it seem like a student is slacking or being lazy. Colleges, however, look at them as providing balance in a student’s schedule and making a student more well-rounded. Students applying to colleges like Yale and Harvard have most likely loaded their schedules with AP classes and have top standardized test scores and grade point averages. What differentiates these students are the other areas where they chose to spend their time. Taking an art or music elective, for example, gives a student a unique flare instead of being another number in a pile of applicants just like them.  

Almost guaranteed minimal homework especially in comparison to core classes.

Have you ever heard of getting gym homework? Of course not, because the sole purpose of gym is to get your blood pumping during the school day and teach you activities you might enjoy. Even electives that seem like they would include more textbook learning such as Pop Culture and Law and Justice often consist of in-class projects and discussions that one does not take home with them at the end of the school day. After a busy night of math equations, english essays, and extracurriculars, it is comforting to know that I don’t have to worry about two classes once I leave their classrooms.

So, the next time you are planning your schedule for the coming year, take a second look at the wide array of electives offered at Stamford High. From speech class to orchestra to accounting, there really is something for everyone. You will thank yourself for the break in your day, and may even find a new passion!