Setting your career path, choosing your subjects
A few boys kicking a ball, is just that: a few boys kicking a ball. The moment you add two goal areas, it becomes a proper soccer game. The boys become proper soccer players and other people can even become proper paying supporters.
A similar change can be seen in a Gr 9 student with a goal in mind; the goal being a (although sometimes still vague) career plan. The goal gives meaning and it motivates. It will prevent the learner from making “generic” subject choices just to “keep your options open”. This method of making subject choices often leads to having no options at all. Typical subjects that will be in such a “generic” package will be Mathematics and Physical Science for “just in case”. But most of the tertiary courses that list these subjects as entry requirement, ask for 50% or 60% or even higher marks in these subjects. A mere pass will not give you access and it might lower your APS score to such an extent that you cannot even get into a course for which Mathematics and Physical Science were not required at all!
The parents and the school must take hands in leading the Gr 9 learner through the following steps to at least have some starting point when selecting subjects:
- Know what is on offer
Have you ever been in a situation where someone asks you what you want to drink, but you do not know what they have available? That is when you just ask for water when you could have asked for a fruit cocktail or hot chocolate. (Assuming that you did not really want water!)
How can you choose a career, if you do not know about 80% of the available career choices? Just type in the search phrase “career choice“on Google and start following the hyperlinks to some of the more than 27 900 000 results. Or go to a website like www.careerplanet.co.za where you can read about so many careers you did not know about before. Without a general overview of the career offering, you will not be able to know where more in-depth research is needed.
- Get to know yourself better than before
This is the one time that you are definitely NOT a mere extension of your parents and their dreams. Their strengths and aptitudes are most probably not yours. You must answer the following questions yourself.
What am I passionate about? What subjects do I enjoy at school? Are the subjects that I am good at also those that I enjoy? If my marks are low in a subject that I do enjoy and I am passionate about it, can I improve the marks by working harder, taking extra lessons or paying more attention in class? It is crucial that you are brutally honest with yourself.
If there are many learners applying for the same opportunity, the one with the highest marks will probably succeed. Therefore it is necessary to identify your strengths rather than your weaknesses. And if your strengths are not the things that you are passionate about, you must perhaps try to identify the reason why you have negative feelings about that field and try to eliminate whatever is contributing to your negativity. If you try to build on your weaknesses, your school career as well as your career after school will become one big struggle.
- When the plan comes together
Once you have identified a shortlist of possible careers, you can extend your research by working back in time to determine what needs to be done to get you from your current situation to your dream career. What qualifications are needed? Which institutions offer these qualifications? What are the entry requirements of the different possible institutions and the different faculties that offer the qualification? Which subjects must appear on my Gr 12 certificate and what must the marks be? Then your self-knowledge must kick in. Do the subjects and marks needed, correspond with what you have identified as your strengths? If you can limit careers on your shortlist to just three options, you are in an excellent situation to, with help from the school, make meaningful subject choices.
By: Sanet van Rensburg
Principal at Abbotts College Centurion