The importance of subject choice at the end of the get phase (grade 9)

This time of the year can be a very stressful time for grade 9’s and their parents. The subject selection for the FET phase (grade 10 -12) is looming. This choice has a great impact on the learner’s future career as well as possible tertiary options. Not many learners know themselves well enough at the age of 15 to make this choice a simple one. Learners should not make these decisions on their own, parents should be actively involved in this selection process. 

Firstly it is important to note that some subjects are not negotiable. All learners have to take 2 Languages (Home language and First additional language), Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy and Life Orientation.  After those the learner then makes a selection of 3 other choice subjects. 

The possible selections vary from school to school and it is important to find out which subjects are offered and in which combinations. Subjects carry different credit levels and these directly affect tertiary course applications.

The additional subjects selected can make career options possible or limit them. It is therefore important to choose the subjects that will open up as many career paths as possible. There are a few factors to keep in mind when making these decisions. 

Is it realistic to consider possible further education and will an academic course truly be in the learner’s best interest? Here you have to be honest about the learner’s ability, skills, interest as well as their motivation. Is the learner able to deal with advanced work and content subjects? Subject selections should also bear in mind the job market and the world of work. 

Degree, diploma and certificates each come with very specific subject requirements as well as achievement ratings required for entry into these specific courses. 

One of the main hurdles during this decision making process is the learner’s friends and the fact that they all want to be in the same class together. Sometimes they want to select a specific subject purely based on the fact that they like a specific teacher more than another. 

Always have an honest look at the following before you and your child commit to specific subjects:

  • The learner’s academic ability. Always bear in mind that some subjects require more advanced work and intensive commitment.
  • Interest
  • Personality
  • Aptitude
  • Possible careers. At this point it is important to look at the possible tertiary institutions to familiarize yourself with the subjects needed to apply for specific courses. 

It is important to remember that most children romanticise their future career. At this point some research about the possible career options should be done and if possible learners should do some job shadowing to truly find out what a specific career entails. The best advice to follow regarding subject choice is to ensure that you choose subjects that open up as many tertiary options as possible since most of their plans change as they go along.