By Deborah Williams
Choosing HSC subjects for Years 11 and 12 can seem quite bewildering to students in Year 10. While some have clear and definite aspirations for pathways beyond school, more often, students are in fact exploring a range of quite often diverse possibilities.
There are some important principles to observe when choosing a programme of study for Years 11 and 12.
1. Check the subject prerequisites
Prerequisites are courses which must have been completed, or grades which much have been achieved, before a student should consider enrolling in a particular subject or level. There may be some subjects which a student will not qualify to study, or is strongly advised not to study, because of his or her previous school record. For any subject considered, ensure that the prerequisites have been met (or are likely to be met) by the end of Year 10.
Should a student or his parents consider that the state prerequisites are not appropriate in a particular case, the school may require parents to sign a form for which they acknowledge the School’s advice and accept full responsibility for the student’s choice of a subject for which he may be either unsuited or ill-equipped.
2. Seek advice
For students with a strong career focus, it is easy to seek advice. All students should use the information published by the Universities Admission Centre (UAC) regarding entry to universities at least three years before they intend to attend university. This will allow students to familiarise themselves with the requirements determined by the many different universities.
Even if ideas about careers are unclear, many students will know that they have a specific or technical interest, or an artistic flair for example. Ensure that key subjects, which underpin future studies in the areas of interest, are included in the subjects chosen.
In addition, students should be encouraged to seek advice from school heads of department, careers advisors, housemasters, directors of curriculum, academic deans or masters of the School to assist them to choose HSC subjects that suit them best.
3. Review vocational testing
If your son has done any vocational testing, the results of these tests should also be carefully considered. Students should choose courses commensurate with their level of ability and aptitude.
4. Keep options open
Specialisation is not wrong if students are certain of their future destination, but few can be so assured of their abilities that they can afford to rule out all other possible options. Students who are unsure of what they wish to do after school are advised to choose a balanced programme of study, which maintains entry into a range of opportunities.
5. Choose subjects of interest
Personal interest is the best way of motivating oneself to commit two intensive years to the study of a subject. Students who choose subjects because they think they will give them some statistical advantage in university admission often commit themselves to two years of unhappiness, studying subjects in which they have little real interest or ability.
Professor George Cooney, the former head of the Committee responsible for scaling HSC marks for university entry advised, “The scaling algorithm is designed to encourage students to take the courses for which they are best suited, and which best prepare them for their future studies. The principle underlying the algorithm is that a student should neither be advantaged nor disadvantaged by choosing one HSC course over another.” (UAC News February 2001, page 2).
6. Meet NESA requirements
Very importantly, students are advised to choose subjects that meet the requirements of the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for the award of the Higher School Certificate, and the Universities Admission Centre for eligibility for a University Admission Index (ATAR).
At Trinity Grammar School our mission is to provide a thoroughly Christian education for boys, imparting knowledge and understanding of the world we live in, recognising the importance of spiritual qualities in every sphere of learning. For over a hundred years Trinity has educated boys in mind, body and spirit, and we are constantly evolving our teaching methods to ensure our boys receive the best education possible.
Fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, we aim to know, understand and nurture every student to help them realise their potential, passions and purpose in life.
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