Student Stories: How I chose my subjects for Year 11

By Bridie McArthur

After just having completed Year 10, I recently selected my Year 11 subjects. Firstly, how did that happen? It simultaneously felt like finally as well as… wow, already?

In the spirit of the season of resolutions, reflection, saying hello 2020 and goodbye 2019, I’ve been thinking about what word could describe my academic 2019. Besides ‘stressful’, I would choose ‘freedom’. Or at least, a precursor to freedom. It was finally already time for me to (somewhat) take charge of my education for the next two years: subject selection time! The state of my course book right now — dog-eared, rumpled, full of highlighter marks — reflects the hours I spent poring over it, making the most of my newfound freedom.

Freedom isn’t always a good or easy thing, it can be daunting! Case in point: me, stressing over whether I should take earth and environmental science, or psychology, or legal studies, and look, modern history, physics… there’s so much choice; I could do or be anything. It’s exciting, all this choice, potential freedom, but it’s also pretty terrifying. It puts such an emphasis on the ​future​, and how soon the future is.

The course book was my starting point, but I mostly relied on the internet and talking to my friends, family, and teachers. At the time, almost all my searches contained the word ‘advice’. I talked a lot with my friends, who were going through the same thing. In particular, one of my teachers assisted me while I figured out whether to take sociology, Australian and global politics, or legal studies. An overarching problem for me in this whole selection process was that every subject looked interesting. She helped me to see where my strengths and interests would apply best.

I definitely felt a lot of pressure during this time to pick subjects that were harder or would ‘rank higher’. I also faced the problem and pressure of not really being sure of what I wanted to do after school — I change my mind constantly! Earlier last year I was deadset certain that I wanted to be a therapist. Now, I have virtually no interest in Psychology. I eventually realised it was better to choose courses you are interested in and enjoy. I thought about what subjects I was strongest at, weakest at, enjoyed, didn’t enjoy, etc.

I decided to take drama, English (I was originally taking English literature, but due to it clashing with drama I decided to take standard English), mathematical applications, human biology, sociology, and religious studies (a requirement). They’re all subjects I’m interested in or have previously enjoyed. I feel confident in my decision, and even with the lure of holidays, I’m excited for next year!

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