Continuing from my last blog post about getting students ready for college, electives become the next big topic to discuss. Electives are a positive thing. They are one of the primary resources in our education system—from elementary school to college—to expose students to new subjects, ideas, or skills; and to help them discover those passions and interests that light them up. That is the main purpose of electives. To help students explore what’s out there. However, they just haven’t evolved to become as useful as they can be. And so, in that area, electives just don’t cut it… anymore.
So, what are the problems with electives, what are the solutions? Also, stick to the end to learn how all of this can lead to saving big money for college tuition.
Let’s get to it!
The First Problem Is Time
Time is a precious resource—our most precious resource—that our education system doesn’t seem too concerned about. This is a big topic that bleeds into many areas, but let me focus the time argument solely around electives.
If you take an elective at school—forensics, for instance—the shortest time frame you have to commit to this class is a semester. About four months. Yet, how long do you think it takes to know whether something interests you? Even consider getting over the hurdle of questioning the challenge of it. Do you want to quit because you don’t like it or because it’s a challenge? Getting through all of that, how long do you think you would need to KNOW?
I doubt anyone thought, probably 4-9 months.
I’d say two weeks to one month is plenty. Up to one month as that’s the time frame most say is needed to form a new habit; to get over the discomfort of change. Sure, it will depend on time spent per day, days per week, etc. But the answer is not a semester!
No need for homework either. No need for tests. The question electives should seek to answer is only if you want to go further or not. Testing shouldn’t come in at all at that point. Electives should be as fun as possible to strengthen the odds of curiosity and desire in the subject. It should definitely get more challenging as they take the next steps forward, but our first step should just be, “do you want to keep going?”
The Second Problem Is Quantity
Sort of the other side of the same coin, but if you had more time available to you, that means you have the opportunity to do more, see more, experience… more! Also, by removing things like testing, you continue to free up time.
Why is this important? Because we are living in a world where the opportunities and numbers of career paths are ever-expanding and ever-changing. There simply aren’t enough resources available in schools to show students all these doors. But, fortunately, we live in the age of the internet! There are countless of cheap and free online sources for educational exploration that need to be tapped.
With so many options available to our students and children, we can’t rely on having ten electives to choose from and a framework that allows students to experience only six of them. We need a way to expose students to a hundred things!
As I stated in the previous blog, I will be launching a month-long course designed to teach students a process to expose themselves to a ton of new potential interests and passions. Our time will be devoted to learning the process, executing the process (actually getting exposure to new things), and then planning for the next steps. They will have all the tools available to repeat the process on their own as many times as they’d like.
Instead of exploring, at most, five electives in a college semester, they’ll be able to explore ten times that much in the same amount of time. With a little guidance, they won’t need that much exposure… but they’ll be able to do it if they need it. Stay tuned, as enrollment into the course will be limited to ten students. The group setting will be an essential part of the course as hearing about other people’s interests can spark ideas for ourselves!
I believe that this whole process I’m talking about is also a part of the solution for lowering the cost of college tuition. Imagine if students all went into college really KNOWING what they wanted to get out of it. Some do, but if everyone knew, then what would be the need for an elective? To be well-rounded? Sorry, students shouldn’t be forced to spend $2k on a semester-long elective when they could pick up a book at the library for free and read it in two weeks. If you KNEW what you wanted, an elective would feel like an awful waste of time and money. Frankly, shouldn’t we be able to elect to take them in the first place?
BAM, there’s at least $20k saved from the cost of college. Perhaps I’ll write a blog series in the future of my other solutions to this problem of college costs. Let me know if you’re interested!