Where are the electives?

Kevin Chen

Every year, as Uni students begin selecting classes for the following school year, I hear some of my peers struggle to find classes they want to take, largely because they aren’t interested in what’s offered. I have also stumbled across this roadblock, and a solution could be that students should be provided with a wider range of electives to choose from, particularly ones spreading beyond the current core subjects.

To select classes, Uni students receive a nearly 30-page long curriculum guide. However, this list isn’t as all encompassing as it may appear. At first glance, we see a lengthy list of courses that fall into the typical subjects you would think a school might have: mathematics, science, social studies, english, fine arts, language, computer science, and PE. A total of 48 electives (not including languages) are given to students to choose from (including both semester-long and year-long courses), which all fall into the previously mentioned categories. 

I don’t have much of a critique on the selection of classes in the topics that are offered, but more of the topics that are completely omitted. The first omitted subject that comes to mind is engineering. We neighbor one of the best engineering colleges in the nation, yet Uni doesn’t offer any courses in the engineering field. Without any introductory engineering courses, it could be difficult for students to figure out whether they are interested in the field or not. Another thing is that there is also no selection of business courses or anything in the consumer sciences field either. Similarly to engineering, students with interests or possible interests in these fields would not be able explore them at Uni. 

Although we are a small school with a smaller student population and thus more limited resources, students should still be offered a wider range of electives to choose from. In addition, we are a laboratory school, so I think we should be able to try new subjects and classes, resulting in a more unique array of choices than neighboring public schools.

Of the electives that are available, many of them also fill up very quickly, or are restricted to just upperclassmen, meaning that we aren’t always able to get into the classes we want or are interested in. With a wider variety of electives to choose from, students who don’t get into their first choice class could still take a class in a topic they would enjoy.  

Another reason I think having a wider selection of classes available for students is because of the importance of taking classes itself. The classes we take have an impact on our futures, and I think they should reflect our interests. Someone aspiring towards the business field should be presented with at least one class in the subject to explore their interests, but instead they may have to pick up another science class because there is simply just no alternative that interests them.

While we are affiliated with the UIUC and are allowed to take college level courses, in my opinion they aren’t the best way to explore a new topic. College level courses usually progress at a much faster pace than high school courses, making it a difficult jump for someone who doesn’t have any experience in those topics.

So what can we do about this? Realistically, there’s no way for Uni to accommodate and provide classes that suit everyone’s interests, but it would definitely help if some classes like a general business class, engineering course, or a home economics course were added. If there would be too many classes offered, then a course could be taken off from each department, meaning there would be room for courses of other subjects. Many of the electives that are currently taught also are based on the capabilities of the teachers and what they want to teach, but I think the course selection should be designed to support the students’ interests.