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Matric subject choices: everything you need to know

In South African government schools, Grade 9 pupils have some serious decisions to make that will influence the rest of their school years and possibly their career choices
Female graduate

Subject choices can be difficult, especially if your child is unsure about what he or she wants to do after school. But rest assured, help and resources are at hand. 

According to Nola Payne, Head of Faculty of the Information and Communications Technology department at The Independent Institute of Education, time is a learner’s friend at this stage and it’s important that the subject-choice conversations should start between them, their parents, guardians, teachers and friends early in Grade 9.

‘The key to making the best matric subject choices for your future self is to ensure you do your research thoroughly and at a comfortable pace so that you don’t have to rush the decision,’ says Payne.

She has some great advice to help you and your child make informed decisions about their future: 

When your child already has their career path mapped out

If your child already knows what they want to study, the decision can be easier. Do some research about the different tertiary institutions where your child can go to further their studies in their chosen field. Although they may have a clear educational vision for their future, it is important to have a backup plan to avoid any disappointment if they are not successful with their application for their first choice of qualification. Take note of what subjects are required for admission. 

If your child is unsure of the future

It’s okay if your child is still unsure of what they want to do after their final school year. It’s then important to choose subject combinations that don’t limit them only to certain career paths. Talk to them about choosing subjects that provide them with options for a range of different institutions and qualifications. 

Figure out what they are good at

Choose a couple of subjects in which they excel, which will give their marks a boost. Admission to tertiary institutions is performance-based and it will look better on their application if they do well in some subjects rather than getting average marks or doing badly in all of them. 

Which subjects make your child happy?

Do research into what your child’s favourite subjects are and how they manifest in the working world. There might be a relevant field of work that your child will enjoy that you are not even aware of. 

Make an appointment with an educational psychologist

‘An educational psychologist associated with a higher-education institution, whether it’s a public or private university, can be approached to do an aptitude test,’ says Payne.

Educational psychologists can be used as a strong indicator of the possible career directions for the learner.

Speak to institutional advisers 

Speak to institutional advisers at tertiary-education institutions. Your child will then get a good idea of the different qualifications they can pursue and the requirements they will have to meet for their chosen field of study.

Know that there are different routes to success 

It’s important to know that there are a lot of options and institutions available for further study – not only universities. The South African National Senior Certificate and the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) have four levels of pass, so even if your child does not get a degree pass, they could still qualify for a diploma or higher-certificate study. 

PHOTO: iStock/Reptile8488



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