The Tech PA Unofficial Guide to Electives
The below guide is based on the collective wisdom and experience of a cross section of Tech parents. The guide contains opinions and subjective statements from parents and is not produced by the school. Some material may also be out of date. If you think information is incorrect, please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are electives?
Electives are classes that students can choose to take.
Remember that most classes at Tech are required as part of the Regents curriculum. Students have the most choice about classes when they choose their Major. A Major can be thought of as a group of electives to be taken in 11th and 12th grade. (Note that while students can choose their Major, they cannot substitute or change classes within their Major.) Learn more about Majors.
Some electives could be thought of as "selectives" in that students are required to select one class from a group. For example, 12th graders must take English, but there is a wide range of English classes to choose from. Similarly, 12th graders must take government and/or economics, but there are a few classes to choose from.
Some electives are truly "electives" in that the student can choose to take a class or have a free period instead.
Some electives have prerequisites. For example, AP Calculus (both AB and BC) requires Precalculus. The AP language classes of course require sufficient competency (e.g. completion of the 3rd year of Regents coursework).
Who can choose electives?
Electives are generally open to 11th and 12th graders. In the spring of each year, 10th and 11th graders rank their choices for electives they would like to take the following year as 11th and 12th graders.
A small number of 9th graders with advanced standing may also be able to choose electives for 10th grade. The vast majority of current 9th graders will not have any electives to choose for 10th grade, as their schedules are already filled with required classes.
However, 9th graders have a couple of choices about the social studies class they will take in 10th grade.
Some 9th graders (~1/2 in recent years) are invited to take AP World History in the 2nd half of 9th grade and all of 10th grade. The sign-up process for AP World is typically done separately from the elective process.
Most students who don't take AP World History will instead take Regents Global History. However, 9th graders can opt to take AP European History instead of Regents Global History or AP World History. This choice can be made during the electives process.
What electives are offered?
The below electives were offered for the 2019-20 school year. Note that the list displayed is somewhat customized by student, so your student may see different electives on his screen from those listed below.
When and how do students choose electives?
For the 2019-20 school year, students received an email (see text) on Thu, May 2, 2019 inviting them to choose electives for next year. Students are required to enter their choices on PupilPath by May 17, 2019.
Students rank their electives in order of preference. Students should meet with their guidance counselors to discuss electives, as there may be special considerations that individual students should be aware of. For instance, rising 12th graders who might want to participate in Division I or II sports in college probably shouldn’t choose Drama or Yearbook as their English elective because these courses don't meet NCAA requirements and taking them could make the student ineligible for NCAA sports during their first year in college.
Students who are thinking of taking 3 or more APs should also be sure to consult with their guidance counselors about electives.
When do results come out and how does school decide which electives students get?
Selection for electives is mostly done on the basis of scheduling, i.e. do students have free periods in their schedule (after accounting for Major classes and other required classes) that match when elective classes are offered.
It is uncommon for elective classes to be oversubscribed. But when they are, priority is given to students with higher GPAs or higher grades in the department offering the course. School tries hard to make sure that students can take the electives they want, as long as there is room in their schedule.
As of early May 2019, the plan was for 2019-20 schedules to be announced sometime later in May (it is massively complicated to schedule ~6,000 students for maximum happiness), and a June 7 deadline to drop courses.
How can I learn more about the elective classes?
There was a very useful open house at Tech in April 2019, where teachers were available to answer questions about each elective.
Teachers, guidance counselors, and older students are good sources of information.
Many course descriptions are available from Tech's Course Descriptions page or from the Majors homepage. The College Board provides descriptions of AP courses.