When Should I Take Elective Courses?

If you’re a student, sooner or later you’ll be faced with the perplexing choice of which electives to take and when to take them. Class scheduling doesn’t need to be an anxiety-inducing experience; a trip to the registrar’s office is a lot easier if you understand how to prioritize the classes you should enroll in. Read on for a better understanding of the best times and circumstances for enrolling in elective courses.

When to Take Elective Courses in High School — and When Not To

Many high schools offer their students the option to enroll in elective courses. Before enrolling in any electives at the high school level, it’s important to research the minimum college admissions requirements at the institutions you’re thinking of attending after graduation. It’s possible that your high school’s general-level curriculum is not rigorous enough to impress the admissions counselors you’ll be dealing with. In that case, you’ll need to beef up your course-load with necessary classes instead of enrolling in electives just for fun.

If you’re a high school student whose school offers electives, it could be beneficial for you to enroll in them in certain situations. If you already know you want to pursue a career as a musician, perhaps you’re planning to enroll in a college-level music degree program after graduation from high school. First you want to make sure you’ve fulfilled all the general course requirements you would need to be eligible for admission to the colleges of your choice. After you’ve taken care of the minimum requirements, it would be worthwhile for you to take as many music-related electives as possible.

When to Take Elective Courses in College

When you’re a college student, creating your schedule can be sort of like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle or packing a suitcase. You have to work things around until all the necessary pieces fit, which isn’t usually an easy task.

When you pack a suitcase, the best strategy is to put in the big things first, then fit all the little things in the remaining unfilled spaces. This is also the ideal strategy for fitting in your electives as a college student. You want to prioritize your general education course requirements first; those are the big things. If you’re declaring a major like mathematics where the upper-level courses tend to have multiple prerequisites, you’ll probably also want to count your most important 101-level classes as big things to prioritize. Electives are the little things you’ll find a spot for in the remaining leftover spaces in your schedule. A post at the Thomas Edison State University blog includes a helpful infographic that visually shows you how to prioritize your course-load.

Course scheduling doesn’t usually work out as neatly as you hope it will. You may find that your college only offers certain required courses every other year; you may find that you aren’t able to register for required classes because you haven’t fulfilled the necessary prerequisites or because the class you want filled up before you arrived at the registrar’s office. If you’re like most college students, there will be times when you hit a roadblock when it comes to registering for all the courses you need. When you hit those scheduling roadblocks, then it’s a good time to look at the available options for filling your schedule with electives.

We hope these insights are helpful to you in determining when and under what circumstances it would be beneficial for you to enroll in elective courses. Now that you have a clearer understanding of when to take electives, you can create future class schedules with increased confidence.

Recommended Resource: 50 Great Schools Where High School Students Can Get College Credit