The stress levels that accompany subject selection in Grade 9 are enough to send any parent into a mild obsessive panic.
We know that our kids understand how important it is, but do they really?
It is an adult-level decision, after all, the first of many your teen will have to make. And the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Weighty decisions like these tend to be put off till the last minute, so before you get into the heavy practical steps, why not throw these thought-provoking questions at your Grade 8 or Grade 9 to get the ball rolling?
Juan Visser, regional director at Cambridge Assessment International Education, suggests the following questions:
1. What lesson do you most look forward to attending every day?
By this stage, your teen should know which subjects they enjoy most. It’ll be your job to help them figure out why because getting them to think about what attracts them to a particular subject will be key to what other subjects they select.
“Understanding that a student enjoys maths because they enjoy problem-solving could guide them to take a business studies subject in addition to maths,” advices Juan, highlighting the findings of a University of Wisconsin study which found that enjoyment of a topic is of the utmost importance to mastering it.
He advises parents not to push their child into certain subjects which might lead to careers with higher paychecks, but would mean poor performance and lower grades.
This same thinking should be applied at university level as well. “Study from school to university should be a continuum. This will set them up for an enjoyable and successful university career and beyond,” says Juan.
2. What are your strengths?
This question is important for matching interest with academic ability, which Juan says may require brutal honesty from both yourself and your teen.
“If a student enjoys physics, for example, but struggles with the learning material and falls short on marks despite putting a lot of effort into the course, this may not be a good fit for a career in engineering – or for their future beyond school,” explains Juan.
- Also see: Help your child study effectively
3. How will your subject choice translate into your university plans?
Once you’ve identified your child’s interests and abilities you can talk to them about their career options, where they’d like to study and the entry requirements for their chosen degree, diploma or certificate.
“This is particularly important if they have a specific career path in mind such as medicine, engineering or law, which have specific subject requirements,” says Juan.
A good place to start their search would be the admissions section on university websites where they’ll find the subjects they need to study at school and the required grades.
4. How is the world of work changing?
Given the fast pace at which technology seems to be advancing these days, Juan recommends that you encourage your teen to do some internet research and to get in touch with industry professionals.
“The internet is a readily available source of knowledge to find out what a specific career is all about or what new careers may be looming. It can also be helpful to speak to someone already working in an industry that the student might like to work within in the future. They can offer insight into the nature of the work, what subjects will help prepare them to enter the workplace and the skills that are required.”
Careers24 has a portal with job descriptions and career advice.
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