Which High School Courses should be Essential

High school is the last form of education for the world’s youth before they go out into the world and become independent adults.  Being such a major component in preparing students for college and the job world, there are several subjects that would be essential for students to take if they wish to have an edge in the job field and be well rounded, educated citizens.

1.) Foreign Language

There are close to seven billion human beings on this planet and there is no bigger diversity than that of language.  Until recent times, the United States has been viewed as the undisputed owner most powerful economy on earth, and English was looked upon as the language to go.  However, several economies such as those of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are growing at such a rapid rate that they could potentially rival the economic power of the United States.  The three most widely spoken languages in the world include English and Spanish with over three hundred million native speakers apiece and Mandarin Chinese with around one billion native speakers!  There are so many major languages of business in the world right now such as those just mentioned and others, such as Arabic, Japanese, German, French, and countless others.  If you were to visit a country on vacation, would it not be nice to speak in that country’s mother tongue, rather than go bumbling about with a dictionary trying to translate everything?  Even if you were not to travel abroad, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to know a foreign language such as Spanish in a country such as the U.S. with such a high amount of native speakers of that language in the country.  You can also go eat at your favorite Mexican restaurant and actually order in Spanish.

2.) World History

Now it may not be crucial to know specific dates in history such as the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans (1453), and it is true that learning history does not provide a significant amount of job openings, but not is that the main point of learning history!  History courses are designed to inform students of their world around them and provide them with an understanding of patterns that have occurred in history.  This is meant to make students educated citizens that can understand what is happening in their world and not to judge other countries for customs that are different than their own.  Learning major patterns in history can allow us to not make mistakes that have been made in past.  A prime example of this is to not kick a country when it is down, such as Germany after World War One.   Unfortunately, the world learned that lesson the hard way with the brutality of the Second World War.  If we can learn from mistakes, we can only make our world a safer environment for everyone. 

3.) Accounting and Economics

No matter who you are, or where you’re from, your main purpose in life will be to have a job, doing something, somewhere.  And no matter what you are doing, you will receive compensation.  Money is a universal thing and learning how to handle it should be a universal skill.  According to a poll taken by usnews.com in 2009, seventy percent of Americans are in debt!  I’m not an economist, but I would say that if people learned how to manage their money better, that number could only decrease.  In accounting, students learn how to keep track of bills and income, how to calculate debt, and several other important skills that would certainly help one stay out of debt.  Within the study of economics, students will learn about the laws of supply and demand, inflation, and such which will give them a greater understanding of how to invest and how the economy works. 

4.) Reading, Writing, and Speech (Language Arts)

Similar to history, there aren’t an obsessive amount of jobs provided exclusively by reading and learning how to write and speak.  Also similar to history, the purpose of learning language arts is not to prepare students for a specific field, but to provide students with lifelong skills.  Teachers don’t have students read classic novels such as The Great Gatsby to provide busywork.  Reading classic novels provides students with an understanding of a different time or ideas that a book may convey.  Learning ideas of a book will allow students to learn and relate them to real life.  Writing may not be the most important skill within this category but it is a skill that should be learned and learned well.  Although you may not find a hobby in writing for online writer’s communities, writing has a very important place in a student’s curriculum, especially when applying to college or a job.  The essay is one of the major components in most college applications and several job applications and it can definitely be the “make it or break it” part in getting accepted.  Writing also provides students with how to be creative thinkers which is a skill that they can carry for the rest of their lives.  Finally, there’s learning how to speak.  Several polls show that people often fear public speaking more than death!  Speaking is another skill needed when applying for a career and is another “make it or break it” element in an application.  Public speaking can also develop confidence, another lifelong skill.

5.) Mathematics

I understand that many of you may be surprised to scroll down and see math on a list of subjects that should be essential for high school students.  I have been asked by my friends when receiving a lecture on a complicated equation “When will we ever use this in real life?”  Well there are actually a decent amount of jobs that require proficiency in mathematics.  This includes jobs within most of the science fields (not biology), engineering, architecture, medicine, computer programming, teaching, and several others.  Even in fields such as business, certain equations such as finding optimal value have use.  Math also has benefits outside of careers.  Learning math is shown to increase logical thinking abilities and problem solving in individuals.  It is also shown to make learners less likely to fear problems and more likely to confront them.  Mathematical equations can also be used in common life such as when calculating both simple and compounded interest or depreciation.        

These five different subject areas provide an excellent mix of classes that have career applications and general applications to make students successful, well rounded individuals.  Combining these five essential courses with some electives, students can be sure that they will be prepared wherever they end up going.