Year 10 marks the end of compulsory education in Australia, so firstly, congratulations – you’ve made it. Now your future is yours to choose.
If you’ve decided to complete your secondary education, then you’ll soon need to decide which subjects you’d like to continue studying.
Confused about subject selection? Ponder Careers have also put together a handy workbook which can walk you through the process and take away the pressure – get it here.
What is subject selection?
Essentially, it’s where you get to choose (finally hooray), the subjects you would like to study and the ones you’d like to drop.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? But making big decisions isn’t always easy, so here’s a few tips to get you started.
- Compulsory subjects / units
If you’re not sure if there are any compulsory subjects you’ll need to do at your high school, now is the time to check that out.
Get yourself down to the school office or ask your teacher. That way you won’t go ahead and plan 6 subjects you’d like to study, only to have to sacrifice one or two for the compulsory subjects.
- Passion is important
If you love studying a certain subject or you have your heart already set on a career, that’s fantastic.
Doing what you love will not only make you happier in both the long and short term, but you’re more likely to do well at it too.
So if for example you love art, don’t stop doing it in favour of another subject that you think typically scales better, just to boost your overall ATAR score.
You should definitely choose subjects that you enjoy, but be realistic about what the long term opportunities those subjects will give you and maybe compromise on one or two.
Before you commit to which subjects you’ll take next year, you really should do some reading.
Whether you’re planning on going on to study further, take up an apprenticeship or start working, you should find out what prospective institutions or employers will need from your high school education.
If you’d like to go to university and have even a vague idea about what course you’d like to do, you should find out what the prerequisites are.
For example: if you want to study Engineering, Deakin University would require you to do maths methods / specialist maths in Years 11 & 12, otherwise you won’t be accepted into the course. Each University has different requirements though, so you might like to check a few and see if there’s a common theme.
Note: most universities and courses now require you to have English as one of your subjects.
- Keep your options open
You might love chemistry, physics and maths. And up until now you’ve been doing really well in those subjects too. That’s great; maybe you’ll go on to love those subjects and enter a STEM related career.
But you might also decide in Year 12 that you’ve actually had enough of sciences and your passion is taking you down a different route.
Conversely, if you really don’t enjoy maths, but you’re interested in a career in the science or health fields, chances are you’ll need maths, so you may have to suck it up and at least take the baseline option.
Either way, it’s definitely worth considering spreading your choices wider and incorporating a few different subjects that’ll give you more flexibility when it comes to choosing universities or careers.
You’ll be amazed how much growing and learning you’ll still do in the next 2 years of high school and beyond. It’s exciting, and giving yourself more scope will ultimately just give you more options and more choices later in life.
- Challenge yourself
If you’re looking at doing Maths or English and similar subjects where there are different levels, consider going for the advanced / higher levels.
Why not take the easy option?
- Why would you want to limit yourself? Challenges are a great way to grow and to increase your confidence, and discover what you’re really capable of
- At results time you may benefit more in the scaling process and come out with an even higher ATAR than you expected or needed. Once again that could open up new avenues for you to explore.
- Always aim high. If you’re really struggling with the higher levels (either it’s too stressful or the workload is too much for you), you can always drop down (even in Year 12), but you can’t go up.
A few of our recommended DON’Ts when it comes to subject selection include:
- Don’t just choose what you think are the easy options, you’re wasting your opportunity to be and to do so much more
- Don’t choose subjects to be with your friends or satisfy your parents’ wishes
- Don’t choose subjects because you think they’ll scale well or lead to a well-paid career. You might end up hating your time at school and university and putting yourself behind rather than getting ahead
- Don’t be unrealistic. E.g. don’t choose chemistry and physics because you love animals and think being a vet would be nice. If you’re not great at those subjects and are a bit squeamish anyway, you really need to find new and realistic ways to pursue your dream of working with animals.
Yes, it’s a big decision, but Subject selection in Year 10 will not define the rest of your life.
So don’t stress about it too much. Give it some thought, do the research and choose subjects that will help you to enjoy your last two years at school.
You can always do bridging courses and find alternative pathways to get you where you want to be. That could be your plan B.
Taking the time now to choose subjects that you’ll enjoy, do well at and will get you where you want to be faster and with less time spent in struggle-town, will make your life less complicated in the long run. Ultimately, it will be time well spent.
Here’s a few other resources that could help you make up your mind: