Never before have careers and the world of work evolved so rapidly. Just think about it, did you know what a TikTok influencer was 4 years ago? This is just one of many examples of how quickly we need to adapt and evolve our understanding of careers, courses and our subject choices. 

Making the correct subject choices, especially at the end of Grade 9, can make many people feel stuck, or forced into making a decision. As a career counsellor, it is my work to help move you forward. This article and checklist are here to help you stop avoiding and help you make this decision. 

Here are 9 questions you should consider when choosing your subjects:


9 Important Questions for Great Subject Choices

1. Will the subjects provide me with a return on investment?

See the subjects that you are choosing as an investment you are making in your future. You want this investment to pay off in the next few years. So, ask yourself, what is the ‘Return on Investment’. In other words, will you get more benefits and opportunities than the ‘costs’ of the subject? 

Try to find the sweet spot between effort, love for the subject, and getting you closer to who you want to become. 

Subject Choice Sweet Spot

2. Does my Subject choices keep all the necessary doors open?

It is okay to feel confused, in fact, it is the norm. Stats from the USA show that only 27% of graduates end up in the same career as their major. In the UK 96% of graduates switched career by the time they are 24. This means that it is okay not to have all the answers right now. But it also means that the subjects you choose should not limit your options, unnecessarily. 

Your subject should enable you to have the freedom to move in your future. See the subjects you choose as a way to keep the doors open for the potential fields you want to go into. 

3. Am I willing to create the necessary habits?

Each subject comes with its own ups and downs. Many of the subjects will require study habits that you need to stick to. Trust me there is no magic wand or mysterious hack you can apply to excel in a subject. In fact, believing this can cause you not to put in the necessary effort to excel in a subject. 

Every subject has its own journey with unique highs and lows. Therefore, ask yourself if you are willing to create the necessary habits to keep the momentum during the lows. Knowing what habits and systems to put in place can help you excel in a subject. 

Don’t know where to start? Ask your teacher or someone that does well in the subject. Here is a video that can also help:


4. Did I do my research about each subject?

It is so important to do your own research about the subjects you are considering. Having an unbiased opinion about the available subjects helps you make the best decision. In other words, don’t let your friends or family influence your opinion in a negative way. In the end, you are the one that is going to choose and take the subject. 

Use various sources of information to help you make the decision. Resources include:

  • your subject teacher
  • career days
  • older students
  • reading about the subject
  • going for career counselling

This is a great resource that can help you. 

5. Maths vs MathsLit

Shift your perspective about maths. Ask yourself what skills Mathematics is teaching me that will help my future. If you are thinking of entering science, engineering, programming or business field, Mathematics opens up so many doors and opportunities. Besides this, there are other future skills that mathematics helps develop. This includes skills like time management, critical thinking, and problem solving. Here is a more comprehensive list of skills Mathematics teaches you

Knowing this, decide what subject will be your largest return on investment. 

It is important to do your research on the potential courses you want to take after school. See if these courses require Mathematics. Once again, ask yourself if you are willing to do the daily work for this subject. 


6. Are my subjects accredited for tertiary studies?

Contact the institutions where you might go and study. Ask them to provide you with a list of accredited subjects that contribute to their APS (Admission Point Score) system.  Often there are subjects that your school offers that are not accredited at the university you are looking at. Don’t fall into this trap. Know what the pass requirements are for Grade 12 and each tertiary institution.  

7. Will the subjects I choose enable me to become who I want to become. 

Remember that there is a bigger goal for your subject choices. Your subject choices help open doors and teach you skills. These skills  will make the road easier to become the person you want to become. Knowing yourself can help you align your actions and choices with your vision for yourself. So, see your subjects as platforms for you to learn the mental and physical habits, helping you become successful in the field you want to enter.
This is where career counselling can help. If you need help in figuring out what motivates you, your personality, and what fields you are suited for. It is always a great idea to seek professional help by consulting with a career counsellor

8. Have I done career homework? 

Just like I need to do research about each subject I also need to research the careers that are out there. You might discover a career that you never knew about. 
Doing career homework also helps you keep doors open, by knowing what is out there. It helps you make informed decisions that will help you in your future career. 
Use the following websites to help discover some careers. 

9. Do I need assistance from a professional career counsellor? 

It is always a good idea to ask for professional advice when making career decisions. Often as a career counsellor, my clients report that the process of choosing your subjects can make them feel stuck and stressed. Therefore my role is to collaborate with you to help you move forward. 
Going for career counselling is a collaborative process that helps you discover more about yourself and helps you make these decisions. 

Subject Choice Checklist

Here is a checklist you can download to help you make your subject choice decision.
Subject Choice Checklist

Have any questions? Want to book an appointment with Hannes?