It’s nearly impossible to read Harry Potter without asking yourself how you’d fit into that world. What Harry Potter fan hasn’t thought about which house they’d be in? I know I have. I also know what kind of wand I would use (rowan and unicorn hair), and although I’ve more-or-less made peace with my cat patronus, I still insist it would be a normal cat, not an ugly hairless one. There’s a reason we all keep taking those quizzes even when they give us results we’re not crazy about. We want to catch a glimpse of who we would be if we’d really gone to Hogwarts.
In Prisoner of Azkaban, which I’m currently re-reading, the kids start taking new elective classes: Care of Magical Creatures, Divination, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, and Muggle Studies. Most students sign up for 2 or 3 of these, but of course, Hermione takes all of them. And, even more predictably, reading those chapters again has made me wonder which classes I’d choose to take if I went to Hogwarts.
I’d definitely take Ancient Runes. I’m very much a language person, and my real-life college major was a foreign language, so studying an archaic writing system sounds right up my alley. One of the things I love about the world of Harry Potter is the power that words and language hold there, so I’d definitely want to explore it in as much depth as possible.
I’d also take Muggle Studies, not to learn about the muggle world itself, but to learn about how wizards see it. Most don’t bother to learn much about muggles, and those that do often have weird misconceptions. I think that if I found myself in the middle of a situation like that, I’d want to do something about it, and I’d need to understand both sides of the equation first.
I’m not sure I’d want to take any of the other three. I feel about the same way about Divination that McGonagall and Hermione do: there are real prophecies in the world of Harry Potter, but Trelawney is a fraud 99% of the time, and the subject isn’t useful unless you’re actually a Seer. I don’t have much respect for fortune-telling in the real world, and I doubt I’d feel much differently about it at Hogwarts.
Arithmancy is basically wizard math, and I have no reason to believe I’d like it any better than muggle math. I did well in my Algebra classes, but I never felt the need to go on to calculus. Likewise, I doubt I’d choose to take an optional math class at Hogwarts. As for Care of Magical Creatures, I’d take the class if Newt Scamander was teaching it. Hagrid, as nice a person as he is, doesn’t always have the best judgment about what creatures are too dangerous for teenagers to handle. If I did end up in his class, I’d probably drop it after the first year. So it might just be Ancient Runes and Muggle Studies.
What about the other classes, the ones required from the start? I feel sure I’d be more of a Neville or a Hermione than a Harry when it comes to flying lessons. I’m not particularly athletic, and I’m not fond of heights, which isn’t really a great combination when it comes to flying around on a broom and playing quidditch. I’m also not so sure about potions, but Herbology and Transfiguration always sound fascinating, and Defense Against the Dark Arts would definitely be worth knowing. Charms seems like the most useful and versatile branch of magic, and I suspect that one might be my favorite out of the first-year classes.
I think what I’d miss the most from the muggle world would be English classes. I’ve always enjoyed studying literature, and whatever literature the magical world has is apparently not seen as important enough to devote a class to. Nor is writing, for that matter. The kids write essays for school, but they’re not taught writing skills the way that most muggle high schoolers are. That would be a big disappointment for me. Luckily, I’d be a Ravenclaw, so it wouldn’t be too hard to get together some kind of book club or study group to learn about it on our own.