How can I help my teenager choose the best high school subjects for uni

Students having a conversation in front of a laptop

How to help your teen choose the best subjects to take in high school in preparation for their desired courses at uni.

Teenagers are an enigma — at times they live in the moment and then surprise us by asking poignant questions about their future. The last thing you want is to be caught off guard when your teens ask these questions.

Helping them choose what to study to get into university is one big question you will need to be prepared for, to help alleviate the stress of your teen's emotional roller-coaster. 

Whatever your teenager may have in mind for their future, the importance of finding the right fit for them makes all the difference. Murdoch has pathways for whatever your child has in mind, whether a traditional course of study or something a little more non-traditional. The inclusive pathways at Murdoch, coupled with Murdoch's philosophy of free thinking and independent minds, are a perfect fit for a teen on any path.

How to choose the right subjects for uni

The journey to applying to uni starts well before Year 12 – in fact, your teen can make decisions about their classes as early as Year 10! But how can you help?

First, encourage your child to take classes that interest them and in which they do well. You can help your teen do what feels right to them and engages their mind. You know what interests your child and how they learn best.

If your child is considering a career in the medical or science field, then suggest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) classes or a heavier mix of mathematics and science classes in Years 11 and 12.

Some universities require students to study prerequisite subjects in Year 11 and 12, meaning they must study certain subjects to be eligible to apply for certain courses. But at Murdoch, we have recommended subjects, not prerequisites. So even if your child doesn't do a recommended subject, they're still able to apply for their preferred course.

Some courses also have higher entrance requirements such as: Engineering, Law, and Veterinary Science.

If your teen is considering these career choices, it is prudent to examine the requirements to choose the correct high school classes for admission to the programs. If your child does not quite meet the requirements for the higher-level courses, there are other pathways to admission. Advise them to consider entering a course with less stringent requirements, and then transferring. Impress upon your child that there’s no right or wrong way to enter uni. Lily started at TAFE but now she’s studying a post-grad course in Forensic Science.

If your child does not have the background knowledge for any other courses they would like to pursue, do not worry. Bridging classes or prerequisite units are available to get your teen up to speed for their uni career.

Are ATAR courses required?

ATAR is the traditional pathway for teens’ direct entrance to uni however there's other options too. You can help your teen examine the entry requirements needed for the courses they are considering. This can guide your child in what subjects they should be studying now to get into their chosen uni course.  

If your child is worried about their ATAR – or is feeling like the pressure is more than they can handle – it is important to reassure them that Murdoch has other avenues to admission. Murdoch embraces the chance to make education more accessible for everyone, which is why there are so many different pathways to uni at Murdoch.

Teens who need the ATAR pressure removed can take solace in knowing Murdoch has a place for them and their independent thinking. It’s also worth reminding them that the decisions they make today are not set in stone.

Helping your teen choose a course of study

As your teen considers their future and what to study in high school, you can help in numerous ways by having them:

  • Talk to people who are working in an area of interest,
  • Explore more than one subject or career area,
  • List what they like and don’t like to study,
  • Research possible choices for study,
  • Consider the type of job they can see themselves in,
  • Attend university events, and
  • Remember it’s ok to change their mind.

Your teen does not need to determine their entire life plan during Years 9 and 10. But developing possible paths for uni and what to study in high school alleviates stress and anxiety as key dates for applying to uni and considering scholarship and tuition choices draw near.

Navigating the social landscape while making decisions affecting the rest of their lives can make Years 10 through 12 tough on teens. They will turn to you for help and advice. Setting them on the right path for uni and beyond is a great way to help.

For even more help, you can assist your teen in their transition from high school to university by attending Murdoch’s upcoming events.

Posted on:

9 Oct 2023

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