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Navigating Year 10 Subject Selection

If you’re planning to stay on in high school and complete Years 11 and 12, then Subject Selection is going to be an essential process that you’re going to have to go through.

While on one hand it’s great that you’ll get to choose which subjects you’ll be studying, the flip side is that what you choose now could impact on what you can study after high school.

We’ve put together some important factors to bear in mind as you start making those big decisions about Subject Selection.


Navigating Year 10 Subject Selection


One: Do some research.

Explore industries and careers, learn about which ones appeal to you and try to understand why. Is it the work environment, the core skills required, or does it reflect your interests, for example?

Identify your strengths and interests then explore the tertiary and career options that tie in with these. Don’t focus on specific jobs, instead find a range of careers and industries that appeal to you.

Doing this could help you to uncover studies and jobs that you’ll actually enjoy. Rather than focusing on the salary, prestige, or perceived (but not always accurate) benefits associated with certain jobs.


Two: Find out which compulsory subjects and units you’ll have to do.


Three: Look at the tertiary pathways which could help you get into the jobs or industries you’ve identified during your research.

Some VET pathways for example might not have any prerequisites or assumed knowledge in order for you to sign up.

Whereas to be eligible to get into some university courses you may have to tick pre-requisite boxes or need to have assumed knowledge.


Four: Then choose electives which will give you the best range of options for your future studies and careers.


Five: If you’d like to go to university after high school, you’ll need to check with your teacher or careers advisors to make sure that the combination of courses you choose will make you eligible to receive an ATAR.


Six: Choose subjects you actually want to do. Don’t just choose ones that you think might scale better and give you a better ATAR, or could lead into a well-paid job one day (but isn’t actually something you’re passionate about doing).

Choosing subjects you’re passionate about could mean that you’ll put in more effort, enjoy them more, do better, and feel more confident about your abilities.


What are Prerequisites?


One way universities gauge whether they’ll give you a place on a course is through the ranking system that’s you ATAR score. But that’s only one of the eligibility criteria that might apply. Prerequisites are another.

Defined in the dictionary as “a thing that is required as a prior condition for something else to happen or exist”.

Essentially what that means is that in order to study some courses, the universities recognise that you’ll need to already have studied specific subjects up to a certain level if you’re going to be successful.

Lots of universities have reduced or removed prerequisites in recent years. That doesn’t mean that you should feel confident to ignore assumed knowledge requirements. Prerequisites weren’t removed because the knowledge is no longer needed. They were removed because some courses weren’t getting the numbers of enrolments they needed, and the universities wanted to increase the pool of students who were eligible to apply for them.

The downside to that? You might think you can choose lower level subjects because it means you could score a higher ATAR. When in actual fact what could really happen is that you get into the course really under-prepared and behind everyone else. In the worst case scenario, it could even mean that you’ll fail the course.

For example, you think you might have a crack at studying Engineering after high school because you really enjoy building things. But you absolutely hate studying Maths, so you choose the easiest options on your subject selection. You get accepted onto a Bachelor of Engineering degree – yay! However, when the lectures start the course, they assume that you have studied Advanced or Extension Maths (the harder units as well, of course).


Course Foundational or Assumed Knowledge


If a degree has a prerequisite subject, studying that subject at school means you’ll be well equipped with the essential foundational knowledge to begin building on during your degree studies.

The subject which provides the assumed knowledge in Year 11 and 12 will be extended on, and it’s safe to assume the subject will form a core component of the degree.

In other words, if you needed to study it in Year 11 and 12, then you can expect to be doing a whole lot more of it at uni.


Course Core Knowledge and the Future


If a subject, such as Maths, forms a core component of a degree, then you should assume it will also be a core component of any career which follows on from the degree.

If you studied it at university, then you can expect that you’ll need to draw upon and extend that knowledge again in any career related to that degree.

So, it’s important to understand that if you are seriously considering choosing a subject solely because it is a prerequisite for your preferred degree, but you don’t enjoy it and aren’t interested in it; then you could find yourself in a job you don’t enjoy and aren’t interested in.


Remember, entry requirements can change


Universities can change their entry requirements at any time. However, they usually stagger or delay big changes specifically to avoid affecting any students who have already selected their senior school subjects.

It’s still important to be aware that just because you choose subjects that you believe will be enough in Year 10, there is no guarantee they will still apply 2 or 3 years down the track.

Which comes back to choosing courses in Year 10 that give you the most options and flexibility down the track.


Don’t stress out


Remember that at 14 or 15 years old, it’s absolutely OK if you don’t know what you want to study at uni, let alone which career you’d like go on to do later in life. In fact, studies have shown that 45% of your age group don’t have a clear career aspiration, so it’s actually completely normal.

Follow the tips at the start of this blog and you’ll be doing the best to give yourself more time to make long term decisions that will come into play once school is finished.

Just remember, unless you are really certain about what you want to do after high school, the aim of your Subject Selections should be to allow you to build post high school pathways that gives you options and plays to your strengths.


Need more help?


Keep your eye out for our Subject Selection Handbook, which will be coming soon and could help you to work through the process more easily.


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