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Choosing your subjects for further study

February 21, 2018 by Ellie Callon Jones

Choosing subjects to study can be a daunting prospect. Where do you start? What is important in selecting subjects, should you choose with your heart or with your head? Who’s option matters? Can I just close my eyes and point to a few subjects on the page? Before you get to that stage, ask yourself these five questions.
What excites me?
You’ve been studying for a while now, so you’ve probably got a good idea of what you enjoy and want to learn more about, and what you’d like to close the book on forever. It’s a good idea to choose subjects that interest and excite you; you’re going to be studying them for a while, so you want to enjoy it. Picture yourself putting in the hours researching a topic, working hard on a project or assignment. What do you hope to be writing about?
What am I good at?
When choosing your subjects, it is important to think about what you will do well in. Think about the subjects you’ve studied so far; there are probably some subjects which you find easier than others, which you reach better grades in. Picking subjects where you feel confident is a great step towards success. However, if there is a subject you find difficult but are willing to put in the hard work to do well in, that’s great too. Why not have a chat with your teachers about whether they think a subject is right for you? Their insight could help you decide whether studying a subject at the next level is within your comfort level.
What do I want to do in the future?
Having an idea about what you want to do in the future will help you to decide on the subjects to study now. A good place to start is looking at the subjects required for the degree courses you might take. This is easier if you know what you want to do, If you’d like to pursue a career in medicine you will see from looking at university course pages that you will need to choose science subjects, for example. Even if you don’t know what it is you want to do just yet (and that’s OK!), looking at different degree options can help you to focus in on the subjects you should study now. Are you drawn to creative arts courses, or perhaps the idea of something in criminology thrills you? Look to the future and make sure you choose subjects which leave these opportunities open to you. If you really don’t know what you want to do in the future, choosing a range of subjects can be a useful way of keeping your options open.
What do other people think?
Take advantage of the experiences of people you know. Of course, what one person enjoys another may despise, but if you know people who have recently studied the subjects you’re considering, they could give you valuable insight into what it is really like to study at the next level and whether that sounds like something you’d enjoy.
Should I try something new?
As you reach a higher level of study, you may well find that there are a new range of subjects available to you. Choosing a subject you haven’t studied before can be daunting; will I enjoy it, will I be any good at it? How do I know? It can also be exciting, the chance to sink your teeth into something new and remind you how exciting it is to explore an area of learning. Don’t be afraid to try a new subject if it appeals to you. You will probably find that it isn’t totally alien; for example, you will probably find that there are themes from your biology or social science GCSE’s woven through that psychology A level you worried you’d know nothing about.
Finally, why not try before you buy? An academic preparation course such as Academic Summer or Academic Camp Canada gives you the opportunity to learn at the next stage, studying subjects to see whether you enjoy them and feel you will be successful in. If you can spend a few weeks exploring the subjects available to you will have a much better chance of choosing the right subjects for your next level of study. And you may just find that your choices surprise you!