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Select subjects with long-term goals in mind

Students are often coerced into selecting optional subjects amid their 10th standard. Otherwise, they may not get admission to a school or college of their choice.
Last Updated 26 February 2024, 20:42 IST

When the board exams for Classes 10 and 12 conclude, students and parents get busy seeking admission to higher classes or courses. The rush increases significantly when results are announced because colleges take applications only for a few days after that.

Students are often coerced into selecting optional subjects amid their 10th standard. Otherwise, they may not get admission to a school or college of their choice.

In such a daunting scenario, it is understandable that there is sometimes stress, confusion, and even panic. Decisions are sometimes taken based on advice from ignorant elders or peer pressure. There is a strong pull towards subjects that lead to courses that offer the best campus placements and hence better ‘scope’.

Even though this is no longer the case, many parents believe that science students get better careers than those in commerce, and those who opt for humanities may not find many openings. Surveys and statistics show that if a student is good in any field he has chosen, he can do well in the long term.

It is interesting to note that selecting science subjects is a purely urban phenomenon. In most rural areas, students prefer Arts or Commerce – yet they do not have fewer opportunities if they are intelligent and hard-working.

Even within specific fields, there is a mad rush towards branches that seem to lead to the highest paying jobs, e.g. Computer Science in engineering, radiology in medicine, game development in design, CA or ACCA coaching in commerce.

Though it is true to some extent that such students may get a better head-start in their career, in the long run, their talent, aptitude, interest and commitment to the field decide their growth—regardless of which branch one has chosen.

Working life generally spans over five decades.  Demand, scope, and employment opportunities in any field often increase or decrease during this duration. Those who will not get affected by the ‘downs’ have been selected based on their interest, aptitude and skills after careful exploration. And this process has to start early.

Check before admission

Let us start with Class 10. Optional subjects for +2 have increased significantly in most Boards, including CBSE, PUC and ISC, in the past few years. IB, IGCSE, and NIOS offer an even more exhaustive list from which to select.

Before coming to this stage, a student should start narrowing down long-term goals, at least to the extent that they would like to be in the world of technology, pure sciences, health, creativity/design, people-related, financial, etc.

This will help them select optional subjects. For example, students who wish to take science but are not good in math and are not interested in engineering can take a combination of Physics, Chemistry, Biology and a fourth subject such as psychology, Information practices, home science, physical education, economics, etc.

Before admission, a candidate should check with schools/colleges where they are seeking admission about the various combinations of subjects being offered—and then check out whether those subjects will take them towards their long-term career goals.

Similarly, students who complete Class 12 must know the wide range of courses and determine which ones suit their abilities, interests, and career goals. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), there has been a further spurt in demand for computer science and IT branches of engineering.

Chose based on requirements

Many other branches also have a strong and steady requirement of qualified professionals. Each branch requires different skills, lifestyles, personality traits, etc. When a person selects based on these requirements rather than just the ‘scope’, they are likely to be far more successful—even if the initial take-off regarding campus recruitment is a little slow.

The world of design and communication is equally exciting – but here again, one should choose a branch that matches their aspirations and aptitude rather than the one that seems to have the best campus recruitment.

Those who opt for commerce seem to be in the misconception that they need to study B Com necessarily. Innumerable colleges tempt students with coaching for CA, CS, ACCA, and other courses. Though the latter is much more expensive than a simple B.Com, and most students are neither aware of the requirements of these add-on courses nor their feasibility, they enrol for them.

Such additional courses can be taken up independently even later after ascertaining their suitability and checking out the chances of a student clearing these highly competitive exams.

The world of Humanities and Social Sciences is constantly expanding.  Suppose a student is keen on getting into economics, mass communication, design, psychology, literature, etc. In that case, they can opt for Arts subjects immediately after 10th and focus on pursuing their desired goals rather than struggling with science or commerce subjects, which they may not have an aptitude for.

Keeping all options open is illogical because it takes a person away from goals, dilutes focus and results in pulls in different directions and lower scores. A student does not need “all options”; they need the most suitable option to work towards with determination and hard work.

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(Published 26 February 2024, 20:42 IST)

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