Follow Mint Lounge

Latest Issue

Home > Relationships> Helping children choose the right subjects in Grade 11

Helping children choose the right subjects in Grade 11

Many students take a subject after Grade 10 but find they don't like it. Here's how you can make it easier for them to decide what best to study in Grade 11

For many students, figuring out what they want to study after grade 10 can be tricky.
For many students, figuring out what they want to study after grade 10 can be tricky. (Pexels)

Over the last few weeks, you must have come across news reports and social media posts about students who topped the board exams and scored incredible marks.

It’s great if your children know what they want to do but what about those who still don’t know where their paths lie? Some children choose the wrong combination of subjects. How do we help them correct their course?

Bengaluru-based parent Sridevi Dutta shares an interesting story about her 17-year-old son , who chose the science stream in Grade 11, only to find later that he didn’t like it at all. Dutta believes that the reason for this was simple. It was hard not to get swayed by his school’s narrative of marks being the only proof of achievement.

“The school would post the toppers’ names on big billboards and divide kids into sections based solely on their ranks,” she says.

Dutta advised her son to take a gap year and then reevaluate his options. “He found that he liked mathematics but he didn’t want physics and chemistry,” she says. “After a year, he repeated Grade 11 in a different school and opted for math with economics and commerce. With the right combination of subjects, he found a way to shine.”

Also read: Why you need to encourage your child’s varied interests

An educator in Bengaluru told me about a student who chose science in Grade 11, even though her parents supported any decision she made. A few months into the program, she found that she disliked science immensely and her scores dropped too. In Grade 12, she enrolled for the National Institute of Open Schooling, a national level board of education whose exams you can sign up for on short notice. She opted for commerce and a few other subjects, aced her board exams, cracked the Common Law Admission Test and now studies in a top law school in India.

Career trajectories do not run in straight lines any more. For many students, working out what they want to study in Grade 11 can be tricky and confusing. Who wants to narrow down when you have the whole world to explore? Here’s what you can do to cast a wider net and keep those options open.

Choose subject combinations for the right reasons

You’d be surprised at the logic that drives a teen to choose a career. For instance, a friend’s daughter was keen to pursue law after watching Suits, a legal drama television series that aired in America.

“My nephew opted for engineering because he didn’t know what he wanted to do and his parents thought this was the best course for him,” says Lalitha Yalamanchi, a parent based in Chennai. “He didn’t enjoy it at all so he opted out and switched to study game design. I spoke to a student who told me that she took the science stream in Grade 11 because that is what everyone in her family did too. She hated it and is now pursuing a degree in architecture. In my workplace, I have four interns who are all studying engineering but they know it’s not for them. They took engineering because their parents forced them but they are are doing so well in marketing.”

A good way to decide on what subjects to take is to try and understand your child’s complete profile. For instance, many career coaches use psychometric tests to measure a child’s aptitude and possible choice of subjects. This test is useful but it is such a broad-brush approach that it cannot singlehandedly pin down something as complex as the human psyche. Instead, look for a coach who dives deep into all aspects of a child’s personality.

Also read: What should kids study to find success in today’s changing world?

Akanksha Narang is a career coach, educator and a certified NLP practitioner based in Bengaluru. During her consultations, she creates a complete student profile, taking into account the child’s academic track record, interests, passions, hobbies, co-curricular activities, life at school and life at home with the family.

“I regularly check their skills and abilities,” she says. “If they say they are interested in something, can they actually do it? What is the proof?”

Here’s an example—a student may say he is excited about filmmaking but has he made any short films on his mobile? Akanksha gives her students short, intensive on-the-spot activities that test how serious they are about their interests and whether they have the aptitude for hard work in a particular field.

Internships are a great way to explore

Last summer, my nephew went to a car repair shop in his neighbourhood and talked his way into an internship. He was interested in automobile engineering and he wanted some hands-on experience.

Says Narang, “The purpose of an internship is to find out what you want or do not want to do and to try things before you choose. One of my students applied for an internship in medicine because she found it very exciting. After she completed her internship, she was clear. Medicine was not something she wanted to do at all.”

In today multidimensional world of work, silos like commerce, arts and humanities are losing relevance. Instead, transferable skills count, so keep your options open but choose a stream or a degree that truly motivates you.

Shweta Sharan is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.

Next Story