Meaning of “Course of Study” in High School

Meaning of “Course of Study” in High School

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When filling out a job application, candidates are stumped when they’re asked, “What was your course of study in high school?“

This generic question appears when the job application is copied from a college application form. Here’s why it is a boilerplate question: high school students don’t major in anything!

But don’t worry, there are two different ways to describe your course of study in high school.

First way: be informative

By default, you can write “General high school diploma.”

However, it is possible to be more informative by writing:

  • Business studies: If you completed business courses in high school, you can write “Business” and add courses completed such as bookkeeping, money management, you name it!
  • Arts: If you were in a high school for the arts, you can write “Arts” and mention the main subjects, such as calligraphy, art history, portraiture, and so on.
  • Sciences: If you were in a science high school, you can write “Sciences” and mention the main subjects you completed, such as physics, astronomy, future studies, and so on.
  • STEM or non-STEM:  In some schools, the last two high school years focus on STEM subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses. If you were in such a high school track, write “STEM” (or non-STEM otherwise).

If you want to be even more specific, you can add some information about your curriculum:

  • College Prep:  If you took Honors or AP classes, write “College Prep.” 
  • Vocational education: If you studied in a vocational high school, write “vocational education” and add your major: automotive, culinary, cosmetology, etc.
  • IB: If you completed an International Baccalaureate program, you could put “IB” or “International Baccalaureate program.”

Second way: leave it blank or write “Not applicable”

When asked for your course of study on a U.S. job application, it is usually on a form with a row for each level of school and a column for “major.”

In other words, it is an ambiguity in the application form!

If a job application asks for your major (or area of study) in the high school section, you can leave it blank.

You can also write “N/A” or “Not Applicable.”

Why do employers want to know your course of study in high school?

High schoolers all follow the same core course of study which includes classes in English, mathematics, science, and social studies.

However, it is also possible to choose from classes outside the required curriculum. These courses are called elective classes. Electives include courses about personal finance, entrepreneurial skills, world politics, etc.

Some employers ask about your course of study to know your interests besides the high school curriculum. If you followed electives, feel free to mention them as they will demonstrate your curiosity.

Here’s a quick recap

If a job application asks you one of these questions:

  • What was your major or area of study in high school?
  • What was your course of study in high school?

It is a boilerplate question!

You can either leave it blank, write “N/A” or mention some of the courses you took in high school.

You can also list the courses you liked the most!

A hint of your favorite courses would be sufficient, but more importantly: don’t sweat it.

It’s not a big deal if you leave it blank!