By Emily Fleming-Berry
A morning unlike any other. Anticipation buzzes in the air like an angry wasp. Teenagers wait, papers clutched in their hands, eyes boring into the head of the teacher who will decide their fate.
Year 10 subject selection day was a fun nod to the Hunger Games. I remember my warring nerves and excitement: I would finally be able to decide how I wanted to spend my days at school. Could the stakes possibly be higher?
Since Year 10, I’ve come to realise how choosing my own subjects can be both a blessing and a curse.
You see, narrowing my passions into one tidy package meant cutting out a lot of the subjects that piqued my interest. I approached selections with a predetermined group of core subjects: English (for transferable skills, like presentation and critical analysis), maths and a science (difficult for me to learn on my own), religion (compulsory at my school) and Italian (a class you can pry out of my cold, dead hands). This left me with one open line for each year — and then, the decision to pursue a major, a double major, a major-minor, two minors.
I devoured the university course guide, leaving it dog-eared and rumpled in my wake. I devised a complex system of cross-referencing pre-requisites, ATAR points, and school subjects. I barely understand this system more now than I did in Year 10. Ultimately, I went with a major in behavioural science, choosing Psychology for Year 11 and Sociology during Year 12. I figured, if I’m living in a world filled with people, I ought to understand how they work.
As for the subjects that didn’t make the cut? Ultimately, I discovered that it’s okay if you don’t manage to squeeze all your interests into a neat, HSC-ready package.
There is an amazing world of resources out there: YouTube is a lifesaver, online courses are always available, and even borrowing the textbooks from your school library is an option (and may help you choose subjects in the first place). Speak to your teachers and ask for their tips! Drop into after-school clubs or tutoring and ask to learn about other subjects. Talk to your friend who did manage to fit in that class.
I’m giving you this advice because I have used it myself and found it helpful. Remember Year 10 Emily, who optimistically decided she would study sociology in Year 12? Enter: the dreaded timetable clash. I’ve found YouTube courses and news subscriptions particularly useful in learning and keeping up to date with sociological ideas, as well as great conversation starters.
There are so many ways to teach yourself – just stay curious!
This article has been edited.