After a turbulent few years in the life of a secondary school student, subject selection approaches quickly and the decision making is a challenging one.  Many students are suffering from a bit of burn out and anxiety around constantly changing circumstances in the school environment.

Subject selection is key to getting you on the right track to your career pathway, particularly if you are looking to move on to tertiary level study.  Certain degrees require pre-requisite subjects, therefore career discussions should start early to ensure subjects required are able to be continued through to NCEA level 3 or equivalent.

“It is important to think about the subject, not the teacher or what friends will be in the class.  As yourself, what do I enjoy about the subject?”

If you don’t know where you are headed

If you do not have any career direction, firstly, start your research and make use of any resources available to you.  This includes your Career Advisor within the school and plenty of online resources.  If you are in a position to, see a Career Counsellor who can take you through a range of assessments to discover your skills, values, personality type and work type preferences.

If you are completely stuck, our best advice is to not drop too many of your key (pure) subjects.  By key we mean, Math, English (history or social sciences), and Sciences.  By keeping these subjects, you will maintain the majority of pre-requisites for tertiary study without cutting off your options.

Naturally, you will align better with some subjects over others.  This is normal.  We do recommend, if you are in a position to, better yourself in Math and English.  Tuition is a great idea if it is accessible to you, and additional homework or support groups at school should be taken advantage off (it pays off in the long term).  Math and English, or writing based subject, along with level 2 are also requirements if entering into a trade as numeracy and literacy is important to be able to complete assessments.

Research what you need

If you are interested in particular career pathways and research degree entry requirements for example, engineering, you will be able to identify the subjects you require and work backwards.  University Liaisons are good at helping you access this information easily.

Some of the study areas which have additional requirements to UE are, sciences, computer science, medicine, dentistry, engineering, mathematical sciences, law, business.

Discuss the subject with your Head of Department

When making decisions about what subjects to take the following year at school, many schools will give an opportunity for you to speak to the department which looks after the subject.  We highly recommend you engage in a conversation about the subject, the learnings and what the assessments will be, so you are making an informed decision.

What happens when you don’t make the right choice?

It is extremely common for students to drop a subject they needed or to change their career pathway as they near the end of their secondary school lives.  This can cause great anxiety and can turn students off making a great decision toward a career they want, by thinking there is no other way.

Truth is, this happens, and it happens a lot.  Universities and Career Advisors can support you to bridge the gap between your knowledge and the requirements of the program. There are catch up papers and courses which have little, to no impact on your tertiary study program if you identify the shortfall early.  Seek some advice and pursue your dream!