As the academic year comes to a close, you may be thinking of nothing more than your summer bucket list. Many students however, like my daughter, have their eyes set on pursuing opportunities that can better prepare them for their career choice or expand their extracurricular experiences.
In addition to continuing her volunteer experience at the local art museum, my daughter will be attending a week-long engineering camp at the university. This opportunity not only provides her with insight into her field of interest but also connects her to key personnel in the department. She will emerge with a greater understanding of the skills she will need to succeed. She will also collaborate with another teen on an engineering project and give a presentation at the conclusion of the course.
Summer camps like the one I described and short courses in art or sailing provide youth with hours that can be used for elective credits. Unlike required courses, electives are classes the student chooses based on her interests. It is the perfect way to customize a child’s education.
ABCs of High School Electives
While most high schools offer electives that cover a wide variety of topics, homeschoolers have the opportunity to craft a transcript that is unique and the most reflective of a student’s interests and future career goals.
This past year for example, my daughter has been actively involved in the Debate Club at the local community college. While it is an informal group (they haven’t competed against other schools), they are engaged in forensic experiences. The hours she attends and the research she invests in preparing her speeches can be applied to her transcript.
The possibilities are endless. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
A – Art & Graphic Design
B – Birding (Ornithology)
C – Culinary (Cooking Skills)
D – Drama
E – Electronics
F – Forensic Science
G – Game Design (Coding)
H – Homemaking
I – Interior Design
J – Journalism
K – Kinesiology (Sports Science)
L – Languages
M – Music (Performance & Theory)
N – Naturopathy or Nursing
O – Oceanography (Marine Science)
P – Psychology
Q – Quilting (Fiber Arts)
R – Robotics
S – Sociology
T – Toastmasters (Public Speaking and/or Debate)
U – Urban Studies
V – Venturing (Scouting)
W – Web Design
X – Xeriscaping
Y – Yearbook
Z – Zoology
It would be impossible for any single school – public or private – to offer every elective on this list; there are simply too many. Schools are forced to choose which electives to offer based on a number of factors including location, student population, resources available, teacher expertise, and student interest. Homeschools, on the other hand, are not restricted by these factors.
Translating Elective Hours on the Transcript
Translating the hours a child has invested in a particular area can be done with ease. Simply keep an activity log as documentation of the hours invested.
Use the course descriptions provided by local schools as a guide as you write your own. Keep in mind that electives can have different names depending on the school offering them, even if they cover essentially the same topic (for example, a culinary arts class could also be called cooking, foods, or something similar).
On a related note, forensics has long meant the art of speechmaking and oral presentation. Debate clubs, on the other hand, involve students in researching a pre-selected topic and then trying to convince people of their position. It’s a cousin of forensics but not the same thing. To add to the confusion, Forensics Clubs and courses in Forensic Science are popping up in many modern schools, inspired by popular television shows.