Electives are crucial for student growth

Cambridge Dictionary defines the word “elective” as “a subject that someone chooses to study, in addition to the subjects that they have to study (as part of a course).” Berkeley High School has offered elective courses for years, and as long as schools continue to give students the freedom to select certain classes, students will continue on their path to self-discovery, while possibly loving school in the process.

Experts view the high school years as major steps in teenagers getting to know themselves. So, in order for teenagers to discover their true interests, it is crucial to expose them to a wide variety of subjects, and school is a great way to do that. 

When someone shows up to a class they selected, they are instantly surrounded by other students that likely chose to be in that class as well. This creates common ground between everyone in a class, which can help give students a sense of belonging and community that a required course might not provide. 

Additionally, when a student is actually interested in the curriculum they’re studying, which they typically are when they choose an elective, they are more likely to do well in that course. 

BHS helps students by offering a wide range of electives to choose from, but goes even further with its Small Learning Communities (SLCs) within BHS that allow students to explore their own niche interests. While one may argue many of these SLCs limit students by requiring them to participate in specific courses, the act of letting students join a community in a field they’re passionate about does enough to provide students with the freedom they crave. 

Avi Neta, a freshman at BHS who recently selected Communications Arts and Sciences (CAS) as their first choice SLC, thinks it’s cool that they have a chance to pick. 

“I mostly looked for classes I was interested in,” Neta said, showing how influential having engaging classes for all kinds of students can be.

BHS is trying to give students the freedom to explore their interests through elective courses, but there are requirements that simply must be met in order to both graduate high school and qualify for college in California. BHS is successfully enforcing these requirements by aligning them with the school’s requirements for graduation. These requirements can be seen as limitations being placed on students, but in actuality, they benefit highschoolers more than they restrict them.

California State Universities and Universities of California require at least 2 years of a language course that is not English. According to Auburn University, the study of foreign languages has many benefits, from increasing creativity to improving one’s problem solving skills and communication later in life. Another requirement, a year-long course in the arts, has been shown to increase people’s confidence and concentration skills, as the Art of Education states. 

In California, all teenagers are required to go to school, and while their brains are being molded by electives and choice, students might actually enjoy the process.