Subject selection, career direction and planning for the future can put pressure on secondary students. Here is a step-by-step approach to making this process as stress-free as possible.

Subject selection, career direction and planning for the future are all hot topics in Year 8 and Year 10 students’ lives at this time of year.

Understanding interest areas, strategically planning how many subjects to study, keeping an eye on current industry trends, while listening to advice from family and friends, may all seem like an overwhelming amount of information to take on. However, with the right support, a bit of confidence and instilling trust in their own reasoning, the decision making process doesn’t have to be painful for high school students.


The Parent Trap?

Parents always want what’s best for their kids, however, it is important that parents stick to their role as advisors and allow kids some space in this regard, says Dr. John Taccori, Careers Counsellor from

Instead of making decisions for them, parents should let children “own their decisions” and not overly try to influence their child with their beliefs and prejudices, he says.

Using the school’s resources

 It is worthwhile taking a three-pronged approach to seeking out information about the subject selection process, advises Dr. Taccori.

“Firstly, attend the subject selection evening at your child’s school.”

“Secondly, make an appointment (for the child and parent) to see the school’s career advisor. Have a list of questions you would like to ask.”

It doesn’t matter if the aim is to just clarify a career path they’ve already chosen and running the chosen subjects by as validation or if the conversation takes on a more “I have no idea what I want to do” tone.

Finally, the child should discuss with specific subject teachers to gain insight into the course they would like to do.


Other sources of information

Several publications, outlets and services now exist specifically to help guide students navigate the subject selection period.

Books such as the UAC guide, portals like the MyFuture website and services and events like career expos and private career advisory practices allow students to explore options, express concerns, seek guidance and even get a taste of what their future career could look like.


Interest areas

It should come as no surprise that a child’s interest in a particular subject will and should influence what they choose. Even if they don’t seem themselves as having a career in that area, they should still pursue it, says Dr. Taccori.

Complementary and necessary subject areas that are related to their career intentions also need to be considered, he adds.



Strategy plays a big role in children selecting what subject they are going to do and how many they are willing to take on, says Dr. Taccori.

“We know that if a child loves a particular subject and does it, then they are most likely going to get much better grades than if they did a subject they hated.”

Similarly, choosing to do different subjects to cover of all allotted units of study during Years 11 and 12 may be considered a good insurance policy for some.

Or having done a subject that incorporates Vocational Education Training (VET) may mean doors to certain apprenticeships are open, allowing for more to choose from.


Taking the plunge

It is important to consider different information sources and the advice from teachers, parents, careers advisors and peers, but Dr. Taccori says, above all, students should listen to their own inner voice of reason.

There is no such thing as a wrong subject choice.

(by Lakshmi Singh, Parenting Ideas)


Further Reading:



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