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By Sarah Frei, Brillantmont International School

With examinations looming on the horizon, many students are looking ahead, considering the next stage in their academic life. Many of the international curricula offered in Swiss private schools provide an element of choice with regard to subject combinations  and therein lies the difficulty. If you’re agonising over which course to choose, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Choose subjects you enjoy
Maybe your Dad is an incredible mathematician whilst mum’s a talented biologist. You want to keep them both happy,but what you really enjoy is history and languages. In that case, go for it! For the next two years, you‘ll be devoting a lot of energy and possibly a few sleepless nights to the subjects you choose, so the least you should do is like them! Choosing subjects to please others risks leaving you frustrated, unhappy and quite simply, out of your depth. Similarly, don’t choose a subject just because your best friend has chosen it !

Talk to your teachers
Your teachers know you. They know your strengths and your weaknesses so it’s important to get their input and valuable advice. Are you struggling with some concepts in Physics now ? How important are those concepts to the knowledge required for advanced studies ? Ask your teacher to outline the syllabus to be studied so you have a clear idea of what’s involved. Is there any coursework ? Can you re-take the examinations if you don’t do as well as you like ?

Talk to other students who chose the subjects in which you’re interested
What is A Level Biology really like ? How many experiments do you get to do in A Level Physics ? Does Business involve a lot of mathematics  and statistics ? Get the insider’s view – talk to students who are studying those subjects now or have done so recently. Hear from them about the course content, the workload and the expectations. Online forums can also be a useful source of information.

Think ahead
Working life may seem a long way off, but if you have a clear idea about your future profession, it is important that you choose the right subjects. Studying A Level English and French for example won’t take you far in your studies to become a Doctor unless you have scientific subjects too. If you’re still unsure as to your future career, choose subject combinations that will keep different options open to you.  You want to keep as many different paths open as possible.

Keep an open mind
Maybe you’ve dreamt of Oxbridge for years. If you have the ability, that’s fantastic. However, getting into the top universities is a challenge for even the very brightest student. Get online, check out other universities and colleges, see what’s out there and you may just come across your dream course in an establishment you didn’t know about. It‘s great to have a clear vision of your future, but don’t be too blinkered because sometimes life is full of surprises!


Sarah frei webSarah Frei comes from England. After a BA at UCL followed by an MA at Exeter University, she headed to multilingual Switzerland to put her language skills to use.

In her many years at Brillantmont International School, a day and boarding school in Lausanne with a British IGCSE /A Level programme and an American High School programme for 11-18 year olds, Sarah‘s roles have considerably evolved, to reflect the fast-moving world in which we live. She started out teaching English language and literature before becoming Head of Marketing and Communication.

Sarah is responsible for all marketing, branding, communication and school events and also looks after the 4000-strong alumni network.

She is excited by the opportunities created by technology not only to communicate with the multicultural, far-flung school community but also to share knowledge and experiences about educational practice. At the heart of all those activities lies the driving force – the desire for each child to develop their full potential.