Teenagers And Subject Choice: What You Need To Know

Choosing senior cycle subjects is something of a big job, especially if your child is unsure of what they want to do in college.

Choosing senior cycle subjects is something of a big job, especially if your child is unsure of what they want to do in college. It is something that must be done prior to your teenager entering fifth year as they embark on the Leaving Certificate.
This will mean making the decision in the middle of 3rd or 4th year depending on if your teen does Transition Year. Making the wrong decision could cause problems later if your teen wants to do a certain course with certain subjects needed to apply.
Here are some tips on helping your teenagers make the right decision:
Most students will study a European language and, in some colleges, a third language is required for entry. It is a good tip to find out if the college your teenage wants to attend requires a third language. The best advice is to play it safe and keep a third language for senior cycle unless your teen is a hundred percent sure of what they are doing in college.
Science choices
Science is another big choice as most courses in healthcare profession require a science subject. Furthermore, some colleges require two science subjects for courses such as medicine. There is the dreaded choice of agricultural science, biology, physics or chemistry. Again, your teenagers are going to need to be proactive and research what is needed as chemistry is required for veterinary science for example.
So, if your teen chooses another science subject, they are not going to be able to study to be a vet regardless of their points. It is good to note that some courses will accept alternative subjects but again, research is needed. Biology is incredibly popular, but it is hard and if your teenager is good at maths, they may be better off doing Chemistry or Physics.
Business matters
Another big choice (if your teen is interested in business subjects) will be deciding on whether to take up Accounting, Economics and Business. There are completely different and require a certain set of skills too.
Think creatively
Practical subjects offer students an opportunity to be creative and get a break from the normal grind of studying and class. Practical subjects offer project work which can be hugely helpful to your teenager and if they are passionate about Art or Music this can be a great option for them. Equally, they should target the subjects they consider themselves strong in so if they are brilliant creatively it could be a good move.
Be strategic
Students should consider the course they will be studying and if they are going to have different projects or things due in or around the same time, as this can make it hard. The deadline for the DCG coursework is in late February. The deadline for projects in Home Economics, Engineering, Art, Technology and LCVP is in March. Agricultural Science coursework deadline is early April too! Will your teenager cope with managing projects and studying too? This is something your teenager needs to consider.
Hobbies and aptitude
Aptitude tests are usually a part of the planning for senior cycle and they show strengths your teen may have. Individual strengths will help your teen decide on subjects too. Furthermore, consider all areas that your teen enjoys including their hobbies. Do they like sports? Are they more creative in writing? Do they have a talent for music or art?
Overlapping subjects
Every student wants to do less revision and get more, so think about what subjects might overlap. Home Economics and Biology overlap, Home Economics also overlaps with Construction and Business Studies. There is an overlap between Physics and Applied Maths, and Agricultural Science has some overlap with Geography and Biology. Overlapping these subjects may give your teenager a strong advantage in learning a lot of information and allow them to use topics learned in other classes and exams.
Do research
Don’t forget to check everything, twice! Avoid letting your teen decide based on what they think or what has been advised. Find a reliable source and follow that advice. The onus is on the students themselves to do the legwork in picking the right courses for their future. If your teen is not sure of what they want to do. Leave the door as open as possible and pick a science subject, a language and other subjects they are strong in. There are instances where colleges accept certain subjects and, in some cases, they may not accept a good mark in Art for example. Research!
Spend time
Don’t rush into anything and spend time discussing it with your teenager and stop short of overdoing it. They need support and advice, but the decision is up to them, ultimately. Don’t let your teen be influenced by friends as in most cases, they’ll be mixed up anyway. Equally, choosing a subject based on your teens opinion of a teacher is another bad idea. Missing out on a subject because your teen doesn’t like the teacher could cost them valuable points in their Leaving.
Go with what you love or at least like!
If your teenager likes a subject, they should enjoy learning it and therefore, get good points. Try and decipher the choice of subjects and what areas your teenager is interested in working in. Obviously, anything medicine requires science and anything business related will require a business subject.  
Emma Hayes is a thirty-something mum of two girls aged 16 and 10, planting her right into the teenage and tween-age years! Follow her on Twitter at @EmmaHayes25.

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes is a busy mum to two girls aged 17 and 11 and is married to her childhood sweetheart.

Read more by Emma
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