If you enjoy doing something, you will ultimately do it well. Pick subjects that you have liked, enjoyed and shown an enthusiasm for. So often you can pick a subject because of the teacher, maybe you like them or hear they are good, but it might not be the subject you would enjoy the most. Although a teacher or parent’s input is very important, you are going to be the one who has to do the subject. So make sure you are interested in learning that subject. It makes your chances of success far greater.
Sometimes the easy choices are not the right ones. If you have an interest in a career or course area which involves a particular subject you consider challenging, be brave and take it now. A lot of students make the mistake of choosing just one science subject. If you like science, be smart, keep your options open and take a second one. This doesn’t mean that you are choosing a science based career at this stage, but you will be better prepared to make that decision if you eventually do. For example, it would be advisable to take Maths & Physics for engineering but it’s essential to have Honours Chemistry for Nutrition & Dietetics. Be brave now.
The important thing is to be honest with yourself. How good are you at it and what evidence is there to indicate that? On reflection, is this a subject that you have done fairly well in the past or you feel you would do well in the future. Remember be fair to yourself, the aim here is rate your chance of doing well in a subject and that’s important too – we all want to succeed in what we do.
Knowing how you like to learn is important. There are many ways to learn. For example, you may learn best with words, or you may learn best by doing, etc. Different people learn differently. The important thing for you is to know how you learn best. If you have done aptitude tests you may want to reflect on the results and relate them to your Junior Cert subject results or Multiple Intelligences profile. Do these suggest a hidden strength in an area you haven’t given much consideration to? Quite simply, it’s important to know your strengths and to concentrate your efforts on what you do best.
Be true to you
Don’t be lulled into following the herd. Some pick a subject based on popular belief that it’s easier or they think they’ve a better chance of getting an A but the Leaving Certificate results breakdown might suggest otherwise.
Try to ignore popular misconceptions and focus on the best subjects for you. It’s important to think about what’s right for you as a learner.
Try to bundle 2 or 3 subjects together to give you one strong group. For example, if you like biology how about taking chemistry too? Bundling subjects can make you better prepared for a range of options within a broad area of learning. For example, a business course could benefit from a clustering of subjects like economics, accounting and business, etc so choosing 2 or 3 of these might be wise. Talk to your career guidance counsellor/consultant and parents about which subjects might go together before you finalise your choice.
Know your options. Know what subjects you need if you have decided on a particular career or course. Be aware that certain courses require a particular subject at Honours level. Some universities also require a third language for some/most of their courses. It’s much better to know this from the start rather than finding out that you do not meet their requirements. An excellent online reference would be Qualifax.ie – the national course database – or ask your Guidance Counsellor for access to the ‘Directory of Leaving Certificate Entry Requirements’.
Focus on a favourite area or course but keep your options open too. How you feel now about something can change. So keep an open mind. Have a dream. Apply a healthy dose of realism to it. Then work towards it. Choose subjects for this but also consider alternative or back up options. Having a plan B can prove to be smart, even if you never have to use it.
Success is determined as much by your attitude as your ability. This determines how much work you are willing to put in and ultimately your level of success. Malcolm Gladwell sums that up well when he says ‘that talent is the willingness to practice’. The willingness stems from your attitude and there is no doubt a positive attitude will help you.
The most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing. It follows that if you are enjoying it, you will do it well. So take time over your choices. Wherever you go, go with all your heart.