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Subject options 2007

When I was in fourth form, I had this all planned out. After dropping maths in sixth form, I would take classics, French, technology, music and a stage one maths paper in my final year in secondary school. In fact, I had a plan in third form, but that one changed after I dropped graphics early in fourth form. And change has swept over me again, as I discover a distaste for some subjects and more, tempting options are placed before me—placing me in the exact position I was so sure I would avoid.

It is, indeed, the classic want-to-do-too-much-and-don’t-know-what-to-take dilemma—and not just because I’m tempted by six subjects. Rather, I was presented with the option of taking one or more university papers whilst still in school. This, combined with continual "you could leave school early" from selected people made me consider taking a part-time university course next year.

The result of this is that my year thirteen course in, once again, a cloud. I don’t even know what proportion will be at NCEA level three and at stage one university. I don’t even know if I’ll be doing stage one papers at all. And, in the event that I take less than five subjects next year, I only half-know which subjects I’ll drop. First, though, I’d need to figure out the five subjects I’m going to choose from, and there’ve been several changes to my master plan from the junior school.

There are many, I am sure, that will be in awe at my decision to choose English over classics. Almost every seventh former I’ve talked to, with one or two exceptions, has strongly advised me that English is a big, big mistake. They’re probably right. Such is the extent of the advice that I’ve been told to “be prepared to work hard and not get rewarded”. As much as it may seem otherwise, I am not rebelling against such words to prove them wrong—I would be ill-chosen for such a job. However, it remains that of all the humanities, English is the only subject which interests me in the slightest (and yes, that means I am not interested in classics, nor media), so big mistake or not, level three English, here I come.

Before I entered high school I never thought I would continue a second language into the senior school. As a junior in high school, I never thought I would consider dropping it. However, exponentially increasing standards have begun to put me off the subject, as I find exponentially more time and effort is required to complete the course. I did, however, circle French, in the hope that things might improve—though admittedly it’s now first on the list to be dropped.

The last time I took music was when it was compulsory. It has always been a subject I’ve thought about taking, and it has always been a subject that’s been pushed out of the way in favour of other subjects. It has now found itself in my too-hard basket—to jump in at year thirteen and expect to do well seems unrealistically difficult—and I’ve had a hard time getting staff to agree. Music, in NCEA, is split into two courses: practical and theory. I’ve always been fascinated by music theory but have never had the chance to study it. And I’ve never been a fan of this whole tailor-your-own-course thing NCEA provides: I prefer whole subjects of standards. And to take the entire music theory course—and I got them to agree with me on this one—would be too hard. I’ve just had a hard time explaining why doing a half-practical half-theory course—for me—isn’t an option.

In a way, I always knew my career in the formal study of music would come to this. Being unable to find room for it in fourth form, and then in fifth form, would inevitably lead to the same thing in sixth form, but which time it would be too late. Music is the only subject I’ll leave school wondering, what if I had taken it? But I’ve learnt that when you go against your instinct, you’re normally wrong, and to circle music would be doing just that.

The newcomer on my list, after all that, is economics. Some have told me that it’s boring, and it probably is, but I still want to see this for myself. I like to think my decision to take economics was mine and mine alone, but it could have been influenced by my parents’ desire to ensure I have some background in commerce, and scattered, short explanations of elementary aspects of it. But, to be honest, economics has begun to fascinate me, and curiosity has led me to circle that course.

The last subject is statistics and modelling—chosen as a mere space-filler and because, from what I’ve been told, it’s easy to gain marks in. Whether I hold through with that subject could be an entirely different story.

When you think about it, the only part of my year thirteen course that’s remained constant is my wish to take electronics technology. In fact, for almost two weeks, electronics technology was the only thing circled on my options form. It couldn’t be hard to explain why—I’ve always liked that subject, and unlike most, I even enjoy the technology part of it, you know, the paperwork and stuff.

Alas, there we have it. Economics, electronics technology, English, French and statistics, and a Post-It note to remind the deputy principal that I could be dropping one or two of those to make room for stage one papers. It might seem all decided, but it’s far from it—the shape of my final course for 2007 will probably more of a surprise to me than to anyone else.

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