Hidden Gems of Education: 5 Underappreciated Secondary Courses That Could Unlock True Passions


Written by Amanda Longhenry


High school is a crucial time for students to explore their interests, develop their skills, and prepare for their future goals. Offering a wide array of courses goes beyond the mere fulfillment of academic requirements; it allows students to delve into various subjects, discover their interests, and develop the skills necessary for their chosen paths. However, many high schools offer a limited range of courses that do not cater to the diverse needs and aspirations of students. This severely limits the options available to students and may contribute to the considerable number of secondary students grappling with uncertainty regarding their post-high school aspirations. Therefore, high schools should offer a variety of courses that can help students find their passions and set them up for success.

1. Finance, Accounting, & Business

Financial Literacy is arguably the most important class for secondary school students. The course teaches students the essential concepts for personal finance that are used in everyday life such as budgeting, saving and investing, insurance, using credit cards wisely, and making informed decisions on major purchases such as a home or vehicle. Some schools have implemented interactive techniques to teach students these concepts such as using the H&R Block Budget Challenge to simulate these fundamental ideas. Despite its importance, many schools have yet to implement or require this course.

However, other business-related courses such as accounting or marketing are even less so implemented than Financial Literacy despite its growing popularity. Despite the fact that business continues to be a popular major in universities, high schools still do not offer business-related courses. Offering these courses could support students in their decision to pursue a business career or unlock students’ passions for these subjects. 

2. Automotives & Automotive Repair

Occupations that require a trade skill are a popular path, with about 1 in 6 Canadians working as a skilled tradesperson and is perpetually growing in popularity. Specifically, automotives is a popular trade and an important skill. Because most Canadians eventually come to purchase a vehicle, understanding automotive systems and basic repair skills can give people the independence and knowledge to diagnose and repair their vehicles. Repairing your own vehicle is also cost efficient; by performing basic maintenance tasks at home, such as changing oil, replacing filters, or replacing the brakes, car owners can save thousands of dollars every year. Introducing students to automotive repair in a guided and safe environment is not only beneficial for those hoping to pursue a career in the automotive industry, but also for students who plan to purchase or already have purchased a vehicle. 

3. Drawing, Painting, & Graphic Design

The arts continue to be an underappreciated subject. However, offering arts courses is just as important for students as traditional subjects such as math, science, etc. Offering arts education provides students with an environment for creative expression while promoting a healthy mindset. Many students benefit mentally from arts as it can be therapeutic and a necessary mental break from more mentally-intensive courses.

In addition to its mental health benefits, the arts provide transferable skills such as creativity which is important in a variety of other subjects. Creativity plays a vital role in problem-solving by offering fresh perspectives, generating innovative ideas, and encouraging unconventional thinking.

4. Leadership

Leadership continues to be a highly sought after quality. Employers and universities consistently seek applicants that have demonstrated leadership through extracurricular activities or work experience. However, high schools rarely give students the opportunity for a leadership role. Some schools have created courses or integrated programs involving leadership and initiative which promotes students to delve into their own research and spark change through their own actions.

5. Computer-Aided Design & Programming

Programming, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), and other engineering topics can give secondary students a head start in their academic passions. Engineering and computer science is continually in demand in today's technologically advanced society. Therefore, these skills can open up many opportunities for future careers and personal development. 

Programming courses provide students with a solid foundation in coding, enabling them to understand the fundamental concepts behind software development and problem-solving. With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, programming skills are becoming essential in a wide range of industries. Similarly, CAD can teach students how to design and model objects, structures, and systems using modern software and tools that are used by architects, engineers, and designers.

By offering foundational programming and engineering courses in secondary schools, students can gain an early understanding of these concepts. 


Unfortunately, not every school has the budget to provide a variety of courses besides the fundamentals of mathematics, science, English, and history. However, as online learning continues to soar, accessing supplementary courses through tutoring or private classes has become notably more convenient. Exploring courses across various subject areas holds great significance as it has the potential to unlock your passions. It's essential to embrace the idea that it's perfectly acceptable to discontinue a course if it doesn't resonate with you.