Big Decisions

Upper School Tuesday, 02 Aug 2022

Many families with children in (or approaching) Year 10 find that one of the more talked about school topics is subject selection.  The transition from Year 10 into Years 11 and 12 is a crucial step.  Students, together with their families, need to make careful, informed course choices to ensure they achieve their WACE and meet any requirements for their chosen post-school pathway. 

Making those choices can be a daunting prospect, particularly if a student has no firm idea of what they want to do after they leave school.  While some may find the decision-making process stressful, it doesn’t need to be.  Helena College has put together some of their top tips for families:

  • Reach out to your child’s school. Most schools will offer information evenings or similar sessions to help families understand the options open to students. 
  • Consider individual abilities. In what areas do they show strength or have a particular aptitude for?
  • Be realistic. Read through your child’s most recent report and teacher comments. Year 10 achievements in similar subjects is a good indicator of likely success in Years 11 and 12.
  • Consider their interests. Students are more likely to do well when they are enjoying the courses they are studying.
  • Do your research. Attend university, TAFE and other open days, as well as careers and job fairs and expos. This will help students find out what prospective institutions or employers will need to see in their Year 12 results. 
  • Think about career aspirations. While not everyone may have a firm idea of what they want to when they graduate, it is good to think about what careers are of interest. Is it something that will require a university degree, TAFE certificate, diploma or trade qualification?
  • Pre-requisites. If university is their planned destination, students are likely to want to complete an ATAR pathway. It is recommended that they check if there are any pre-requisites or recommended courses for the degree in which they are interested. 
  • Pathways. There are options available for students who choose not to do an ATAR, with many universities offering bridging courses for selected degrees. For those considering TAFE or an apprenticeship, it is worthwhile studying school courses that relate to the area they wish to pursue. 
  • Keep your options open. For the undecided, a good option is to select courses that will give them a diverse range of career and study options.
  • Choose courses for the right reasons. While being in the same class as a friend is great, it may mean a student gets disengaged if the subject is not right for them.
  • Think about what is involved. It is very important to have a clear understanding of the characteristics of each course; for example, difficulty level and required pace of work, volume of reading, and the amount of detailed information to be retained. 
  • Don’t stress! While course selection is important, it does not define their future. The courses a student chooses now won’t make or break their plans for the future.  There are always alternate pathways and ‘Plan Bs’.
  • Remember the non-measurables. There are many things that are essential to success in later life which have nothing to do with the final results of the WACE or an ATAR score. Problem-solving, critical thinking and resilience are some of the most important skills anyone can develop – and not one is found on your child’s final Statement of Results.

Helena College provides a thorough and careful counselling process throughout the second half of Year 10 involving one-on-one meetings with senior staff, as well as information sessions for both students and parents. 

We offer a wide range of courses across Year 11 and 12, including ATAR, General and Endorsed Programs, providing choices to suit individual aptitudes and interests and setting the framework for their future. 

We also understand that life is about more than academic success. Balance is key, and we encourage students to maintain healthy habits, including getting exercise and sleep, and setting aside time for leisure activities. 

The wellbeing of each of our students is of paramount importance, and students have access to a number of staff, including their homeroom teacher, Director of Upper School, careers counsellor and school psychologist. This support is designed to ensure each student is able to achieve their personal best, both in and outside of the classroom.

For more information about Years 10 to 12 at Helena College, we invite you to attend a tour of our Glen Forrest Campus.