Some high school students have a very clear idea on the profession they wish to pursue and the steps required to get there – they make strategic decisions that pave the way to achieving their career goals. There are other students however, that have a less focused vision of their future – this is not necessarily a negative thing, but it may make choosing Year 11 and 12 subjects a little more challenging.
Wherever your child sits on this scale, the key is to encourage them not to focus too heavily on the ATAR when choosing their subjects, as there are other important factors to consider.
Parents can help alleviate the stress of subject selection by considering the following four key things.
- Discuss your child’s career ambitions
If your child has a clear vision of the career they wish to pursue, then some of the uncertainty about subject selection can be avoided. It is a good idea to explore the tertiary degrees or training courses relating to your child’s chosen profession to determine if there are any subject prerequisites (for example some degrees require the student to have completed certain subjects at school). It is also important that your child has a realistic understanding of the effort that will be required to achieve Year 12 results that would get them entry into their chosen tertiary course or training.
Another great idea is to sit down with your child, and together, research their chosen profession – discuss the finer details, such as the type of tasks that will be required and skills that will be used on a daily basis. For example, students may express a desire to study law because they consider the profession prestigious and well remunerated. What they may not realise is that the role requires a lot of research and a great deal of administration, which can at times be monotonous. Your child should comprehend the effort, time and intensity required to complete their tertiary study or training.
- Which subjects does your child enjoy?
Not to be underestimated, the aspect of enjoyment should be one of the prime considerations in choosing subjects as it has a significant impact on results. It stands to reason that if a student enjoys a subject, they will be more engaged in learning and motivated to put in the extra effort required to excel. It is particularly useful for those students that are unsure of a career path – if they choose subjects they like, their final years of school will be more enjoyable, and they are more likely to maximise their potential results and in turn, open up options for tertiary study or training.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses
There are several aspects to consider, from personality, to academic results and practicalities. Just as enjoying a subject can lead to better results, doing well in a subject leads to more enjoyment and momentum to continue to improve. Talk to your child about their grades. For example, if your child is keen on a career in engineering, but their results in mathematics and physics are poor and engagement is low, then it may be prudent to reconsider their career choice.
While it is important to demonstrate empathy and encourage and support your child through the decision-making process, don’t be afraid to highlight some of these realities – it can avoid future disappointments, or spur them on to put in the effort required to achieve their goals.
Aim to have your child choose subjects that play into their strengths to allow them to reach their full potential.
- Seek advice from others
Your child’s school Careers Advisor is a great person to start with. They can help your child to gain a better understanding of the relevance of subject selection on chosen career paths. They have the expertise to help your child set realistic expectations and clarify their career goals. Careers Advisors also have access to alumni and business leaders that they put your child in touch with for mentoring, insights, work experience and further advice.
Young alumni in particular can provide useful insights into tertiary study and the transition to work, sharing challenges and tips for overcoming them.
If you have family or friends currently in the field your child is considering, have them speak to your child about the realities of their job, both positive and negative. If appropriate, have your child ask if they can tag along for a day to get a feel for the job.
Acknowledge that subject selection can be a difficult decision, but it is not the be all and end all. Even if your child gets it wrong, there are many other courses of action available to help them reach their career goal if they can persevere with grit and determination. There are many online resources including Morrisby Profile that can be used to help provide clarity and make the decision easier.
At Oakleigh Grammar our students are exposed to many careers events such as the Careers and Employment Expo, Employer/Tertiary Speaker Sessions, Careers Morning Tea Series, Resume workshops and more. Our passionate Careers Advisor is available to assist students with course and careers advice, VCE subject selection, job applications, resume creation, mock interview practice, VTAC applications, and post-school options. Parents and guardians are welcome to make appointments and we offer our Alumni careers guidance as well, should they seek it.
Oakleigh Grammar offers excellence in coeducational learning from ELC through to Year 12. We are dedicated to building resilient lifelong learners and responsible global citizens by empowering young minds and putting students at the centre of all we do. We ensure each child is nurtured and cared for at a personal level, by exceptional educators who are dedicated to their students and their profession. Founded in Christian values, Oakleigh Grammar boasts a multicultural environment where a zest for life is encouraged, good citizenship is celebrated and academic scholarship is our mainstay. To learn more about Melbourne’s best value private school download our prospectus.