Decide for your Future: Choosing a Senior High School Strand


Are you excited to kick off your Senior High School adventure, but still find yourself on the horns of a dilemma? Imagine yourself standing at a crossroads, and you’re not moving because you have no idea which road will lead you to your destination. It may sound distressing, but there is no point getting steamed up about it. Taking steps forward is the only way for you to advance your journey because if you want to obtain your college diploma, there is no escaping Senior High School.



It has come to no surprise that a lot of Senior High School students complain about the hardship and challenges they encounter throughout the two-year program. Said another way, Senior High School is not easy, but it does not necessarily mean that it will leave you incapacitated. In fact, the two years of specialized upper secondary education provide a one-of-a-kind experience that will surely last a lifetime.

As intuitive thinking may not be enough, parents and students must take into account both the internal and external factors that might affect the decision. Hence, for Grade 10 completers, using strategies to weigh up the options is necessary before choosing a particular Senior High School strand. So, to turn your worries into courage, block out your plans and grab your pen and paper as we zero in on the wise ways of choosing Senior High School strands using PEERS, a strategic method that we devised especially for you.


P - Point up your skills.

Entering Senior High School is on a par with setting upon your future career; thus, making wise decisions that correlate with your long-term goal is crucial before making an entrance into this two-year upper secondary education. While you are still thinking about the Senior High School academic strand that you are going to take, we suggest pointing up your skills.

Skill is the knowledge and ability that enables you to do something well (Collins Dictionary, n.d.). Every student has distinct potentials that can make them stand out. On this account, knowing your skills can help you find a career of your own choice. Some of our students feel insecure of their qualification because most of the time they experience failure, especially in meeting the demands and requirements of their chosen academic strand. Had they found their inner peace before enrolling, they wouldn’t have shed tears over insecurities and regrets.



Since choosing a strand is the preliminary to planning your future career, try to identify your skills and start leveraging them. Focus on the things that come easy to you, like communication, critical thinking, operating equipment, teaching a lesson, selling products to customers, or painting a portrait. Always remember that your skills will magnify your value and will allow you to shine. So give yourself some time to know your knowledge and abilities.


E - Envision your future.

Now that you have identified your skills, it can be inferred that you will begin to picture out your future. Try asking yourself this question: What do I want to do in the future? If done right, envisioning your future will help you achieve your goals. Imagine yourself ten years from now. Do you see yourself as a doctor, an engineer, a researcher, an entrepreneur, a teacher, a politician, a law enforcer, or other types of professionals there are in existence? When you think of your future self, do not just fantasize it, contemplate it. Ideate your future based on your own vision and in accordance with what exactly you are cut out for. Only then would you be able to make wise decisions, especially in choosing the Senior High School academic strand that is right for you.


E - Explore the different career paths that complement your skills. 

You have just accomplished self-awareness and have envisaged your future; you are now ready to look for the career paths that are suitable for you.

A career path is a sequence of jobs that leads to your short and long-term career goals. Some follow a linear path within one field, while others change fields periodically to achieve career or personal goals (Doyle, 2020). Typically, we advise our students to focus on the paths that encompass the jobs that will lead them to their ultimate career goals. For instance, if you opt for a long-term law career, you would ideally start as a paralegal, or a legal assistant. Since the type of degree you need to earn must correlate with your career goals, you would most probably pursue bachelor’s programs that offer relevant concentrations like pre-law and legal studies.

Subsequently, you would ask yourself this question: How will I be able to pursue my desired course in college? The next step will help answer your question.


R - Relate your career path to the Senior High School strands.

The Senior High School strands will take you to your career paths, so associating your desired course with them is a wise move to keep yourself on the right track. Besides, knowing each strand will also give you an idea about the subjects that you are going to take in Grade 11 and Grade 12. Doing so does not only provide insights, but will also help prevent stumbling blocks.

In Senior High School, students can choose one strand from the Academic track, which includes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM); Accountancy, Business, and Management (ABM); and Humanities and Social Sciences (HumSS). Each strand will define the subject contents that the students will take.

STEM is the right strand for you if you want to become a doctor, an engineer, an architect, a pilot, or a chemist. Whereas, you can choose ABM if you want to take the path to entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, management, accountancy, economics, or advertising. On the other hand, you should enroll in HumSS if you want to succeed in the areas like education, law, psychology, journalism, counseling, or public administration.



Moreover, there are students who are still not sure about their interests and are not willing to gamble on choosing any of the three academic strands. For these students, the General Academic Strand (GAS) is the best choice. GAS is a Senior High School strand that takes on a generalist approach in preparing students for college. It covers various disciplines like Humanities, Social Sciences, Organization, and Management (Informatics College, n.d.).

Taking a year off before Senior High School is not a necessary solution because the General Academic Strand will give you the chance to weigh your options.


S - Settle on a plan of action.

After a long period of weighing things up, you are now down to the final stage: settling on a plan of action. Remember, what’s done can never be undone.

As you are about to reach a decision, consider the three essential actions. 1) Select the right strand: Senior High School strand will take you to your career path, deciding on the one that correlates best with your career goal won’t cost your future. 2) Choose the right school: A lot of schools offer relevant Senior High School programs, but not all will provide you a holistic education. So spend your time and money wisely; choose the school that unleashes your potential. 3) Establish a growth mindset: Magnify your skills, take actions according to your wisdom, and believe that you can be good at anything.

In brief, choosing a Senior High School strand is stressful as it requires one to utilize his or her mental faculty, plus the desire. In other words, deciding upon which strand you would take will challenge your heart and mind. But still and all, parents and students don’t have to fret constantly about choosing a Senior High School strand. As long as you take the right step, at the right time, you’re already on your way to a wonderful future. Be wise!

At CCSA, we help our students grow, engage, and transform, for them to be more ready to embrace college and the world. We integrate Christian Education to help our students grow holistically. Founded in 2003, our commitment is to foster in students the desire for academic excellence, character development, and social responsibility so they would be good stewards of God's creations. We adhere to our school’s life verse in Proverbs 9:10 that states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” As such, we invest time and effort in teaching God's Word to the students and the CCSA community.



We offer Academic Track with the following strands: Accountancy, Business, and Management (ABM), Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS), and General Academic Strand (GAS). Consider CCSA and see the difference it will make to your education.


About the Author:

Christine Joy Cardino is an afficionado of human philosophy who imparts to the youth the association of language, culture, and social relationships.





Accountancy, business and management (ABM) strand. (n.d.). Online SENIOR HIGH. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from

Allen, S. (2019, May 1). How thinking about the future makes life more meaningful. Greater Good. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from,more%20generous%20and%20fulfilled%20lives.&text=Mindfulness%20is%20all%20the%20rage,compassion%2C%20and%20help%20our%20relationships

Armstrong, V. (n.d.). Leadership 101: Why you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. Leadership Life Support. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from

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GENERAL ACADEMIC STRAND (GAS). (n.d.). Informatics COLLEGE. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from,Sciences%2C%20Organization%2C%20and%20Management

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Robinson, T. (2021, August 12). Law careers. Best Colleges. Retrieved February 20, 2022, from,%2C%20politics%2C%20and%20law%20enforcement

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Screen addiction: Why It Happens and How to Go About It?


Does your child seem to be too attached to smartphones and the internet? Have you sensed problematic use of screens to watch video content, play video games, and scroll through social media? Are you falling prey to this drug-like addiction, too?

It seems that you or your child are not alone. There has been a growing concern over being too glued to gadgets—youngsters and adults alike. And we hope this write-up can help you understand the neuropsychology of the difficulty detaching with our screens, and start implementing minor changes on your screen habits.


Filipinos as top social media and internet users

Yes, you probably have heard it somewhere. But did you know that as of the January 2021 report of Advertising firms We Are Social and Hootsuite, we've been the top social media users for six years now? This is in terms of time spent using social media.

Filipinos spend an average of 4 hours and 15 minutes each day on social media. This is 22 minutes higher than the previous year's average of 3 hours and 53 minutes. The average time spent is almost twice as long as the global average for social media usage, 2 hours and 25 minutes.

We top globally not only in social media but in internet use as a whole. According to the same report, we also ranked highest, with up to 10 hours and 56 minutes daily. This is about four hours longer than the global average for 6 hours and 54 minutes of internet usage.

Some additional information to give you a better picture of our screen and internet use, as of January 2021:

  • 95.5% of total internet users do so using their smartphones;
  • The top websites visited are Google, Youtube, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Pornhub;
  • The number of social media users in the Philippines is pegged to be 80.7% of the total population;
  • The internet penetration in the Philippines is at 67.0%;
  • Between 2020 and 2021, there are 16 million new social media users, a 22% increase in number.

These facts and figures raised a discussion, whether we Filipinos have been addicted to social media and the internet.

In an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer, Athena Presto, a UP sociologist, cautioned not to readily conclude addiction since "we are in a condition that predisposes and forces us to go online," as it is globally. People trawled social media to rekindle ties and keep abreast of reports about the pandemic. Classes are being held online. Many people's work is solidly online. Clocking in and out of work requires us to be online. Businesses have gone online as well. Appointment booking systems, customer service engagements, travel information, remote banking, food delivery services are set up online.

As a nation whose significant portion of the population is working overseas, many families stay in touch with their loved ones abroad. Plus, we are "culturally predisposed to using social media because we have this social construction of being sociable people," Presto said.

Even outside the premise of Filipinos being innately sociable, there has been a controversy for roughly a decade surrounding the acceptance and validation of problematic screen use as a disorder.


Is it a disorder?

Those who work with children and adolescents (psychologists, teachers, school counselors, pediatricians) have reported that some teens and children use screens at a level that causes significant problems. These problems include missing school, stopping other activities, difficulties with offline relationships, substantial sleep deficits, worrying behavioral changes, and a constant preoccupation with screen-related activities. On the extreme, there were reports of screen overuse-related deaths, of a teen gamer due to exhaustion, cardiac arrest, and blood clot; and infants dying from neglect while parents played video games.

When the American Psychiatric Association published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013, it faced criticisms after including Internet Gaming Disorder as a proposed new disorder. The proposed diagnostic criteria are very similar to other behavioral addictions like Gambling Disorder but tagged under the section Mental Health Disorders Requiring Further Research.

On the other hand, the World Health Organization in 2017 was able to ratify the proposal to include Gaming Disorder in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Disease (ICD-11). Following so, Gaming Disorder has become an official mental disorder.

Internet Gaming Disorder and Gaming Disorder are currently officially ratified as mental health disorders, among different forms of problematic screen use. However, Australian psychologist Wayne Warburton notes that the study of screen-based disorders is in its infancy, and getting a complete picture is hampered by various factors. These include a lack of consensus on diagnostic criteria, the use of multiple measures, and little research following the pathway to addiction over time. Most attempts to do so face criticism from those who disagree and don't like what is written.

“It affects the brain chemistry, how we focus, concentrate; it impacts our moods. Kids become more angry, more irritable, increased depression, anxiety, and difficulty with sleep. It's just kind of the nature of the beast, so to speak,” US-based mental health practitioner Tim Hron described.

Nonetheless, research and clinical reports suggest that “screen use can become disordered for some people. In extreme cases, this looks similar to other clinical and brain addictions,” according to Warburton.


But why are we hooked to our screens?

While this may be hard to answer comprehensively, let us look at what researchers say on this.



From a biology and neuroscience perspective, humans are motivated to undertake behaviors that ensure their survival and species' survival. This motivation often originates in the brain's reward system.

Such behaviors release a neurotransmitter called dopamine produced by a relatively small number of neurons in two tiny brain areas and are distributed through pathways to parts of the brain related to pleasure, reward, and goal-directed behavior.

Dopamine causes us to feel pleasure when released in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. It motivates us to seek more or whatever causes its release. So if we do something, and dopamine is released and gives us pleasure, we will be motivated to do more of that thing. Our brain has a brake mechanism that involves another hormone, serotonin, which creates a sense of contentment and satisfaction when we get the reward. However, we don't always get the reward, and the braking system does not always work. Addiction becomes more likely when something that triggers dopamine keeps promising a reward that comes randomly or infrequently and gives a reward that doesn't fully satisfy the person.


Two-way link of stress and coping

That social media is a relatively new phenomenon, the potential two-way links between their use and mental health have not been widely investigated. And so far, research and literature available seem to provide mixed results as to whether social media and the internet facilitate functional and adaptive coping or not.

However, a recent survey involving young people from India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Turkey on internet use during COVID-19 confirmed that gaming and compulsive internet use are used to manage distress and anxiety, especially surrounding the pandemic. Compulsive internet use and increased social media use were strongly associated with worries of COVID-19 and symptoms of depression. Results further show that psychological distress, loneliness, low self-esteem, and escapism significantly predicted problematic internet use. Those scoring high on gaming addiction also reported increased symptoms of depression, loneliness, and escapism.


Persuasive designs

It seems that tech giants carefully plan every detail affecting user experience to ensure high time on screen. Persuasive designs leverage on the molecule that makes us feel pleasure, motivation, and addiction---dopamine.

Such that:

  • Notifications displayed on the home screen as red dots with numbers were there for a reason. We instinctively respond with urgency to red, so we feel the urge to address notifications as they stack up.
  • Social media apps' push notification features always bring us back into the app. The push notification saying someone tagged you in a post can instantly trigger you to check further. We tend to click these push notifications as social animals tend to care what others think of us.
  • Netflix's post-play is designed to keep our attention on the screen, making binge-watching easier than ever. There isn't a stopping rule in contrast to traditional TV shows that definitely end. You need to wait again for another week for the next episode.
  • Similarly, YouTube's autoplay built-in feature in which the next video in line starts up automatically takes advantage of a human bias called the default choice. Your brain naturally prefers to be pleasantly passive than having to use lots of energy to make a decision. If you leave autoplay on, you choose not to choose [which video to play next, or whether to stop watching altogether].
  • Also, YouTube's recommendation algorithm will suggest videos it thinks you'll like to understand your tastes. Everything you do—like stop watching after five minutes, watch on a tablet or a smartphone when you're watching, or where you are—all generate data that are then used in calculations that use deep learning. They load your data into the software and ask the program to develop a theory to predict your behavior and recommend something for you. YouTube then tweaks the recommendation algorithm to incite you to spend even more time staring at your screen.
  • Facebook likes lead to the creation of a social-validation feedback loop. You like those who like you, and in return, you feel obligated to like their content, which creates an infinite loop. Even if you get few likes because you have few friends, you take pleasure in posting content because your brain thinks it's real social interaction. Similar to talking about yourself to others: it automatically activates the reward circuits in the brain.

These persuasive designs are dangerous for children and adults. According to psychologist Richard Freed, it is more dangerous for the former than the latter.

 "Adults get affected by not working [at their jobs] properly and are getting more distracted. But kids are being robbed. The type of manipulation and isolation persuasive technology creates pulls kids away from real-life engagements like family, focusing on school, making friends. Adolescents and children are being pulled away from the lives they need. Teenagers are sensitive to social situations, like being accepted or rejected, and social media is built to prey on these insecurities."


Just the norm

Another lens to consider in understanding our tendency to get hooked on our screen is: that everybody is doing it. It’s just the norm. Period.

The Good Men Project likened screen time to smoking. Back in earlier years, people were asking, “what's the problem? Everyone else is doing it?”

But it wasn't until decades later that people realized the dangers of smoking, leading to efforts to promote its harmful effects.

In essence, screen time and smartphone addiction have many similarities with smoking. “They cause distraction, make people antisocial, cost money, and the earlier you start, the worse it could be,” to quote John White.

White also emphasizes, “while screen time isn't as directly harmful to health as smoking, treating screen addiction similarly to smoking could lead to significant improvements.”


How to go about it?

Technology fasting may be an option, but realistically speaking, we can not turn away and completely disregard the technology. We depend on them to do our jobs and communicate with others. We need to use technology for our day-to-day activities. This is especially true in metropolitan life, like here in Davao City.

Like other addictions, the first step to beating your screen viewing compulsion is admitting a problem. Recognize the issue.

After recognizing the issue, making small actionable steps, focusing on one behavior at a time. Consider incorporating these steps of moderation:

  • Set your wireless router to turn off and on at certain times of the day. This is a sure way of restricting internet usage. Incorporate online curfew hours and bedtime policy at home on this. It would seem helpful to turn off all technology for the first half-hour of the day. This is to set your own intentions rather than allowing your inbox or the news cycle to dictate your day. And in the last hour of every day, shut down all devices and simply be quiet. Should you prefer, you can read a book, or listen to relaxing music to allow the body and mind to calm down.
  • Put a passcode on your phone or laptop. Doing so would require more effort in accessing your screen, in contrast with a fingerprint pass or none at all.
  • Turn off notifications. The less you get triggered by the sight of these app icons, the less you are likely to access the app. The exact mechanism applies in organizing your phone, so there aren't many apps cluttering your home screen.
  • Turn off autoplay. They have not set up the stopping rule by default, so you need to set it up for yourself.
  • Use time tracking apps on your phone. Social Fever, My Addictiometer, OffTime, QualityTime are just a few of what's available tools to monitor your presence in the virtual world. More often than not, these apps also allow you to set a timer to limit phone usage.
  • Turn your phone's display to grayscale. According to former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, removing positive reinforcements dampens that urge to keep loading up social media feeds or mobile games.
  • Have a definite purpose for your screen time. To circumvent mindless scrolling, make sure you have a defined goal before you pick up your phone, open a tab, or check your inbox.  

Anything that can tone down digital stimuli and encourage moderation will help you wean yourself off your devices. Being unglued from screens gives us more time to interact with our immediate environment and real people.

To curb your cravings for social connections, why not intentionally schedule video chats and let it be the new norm of connecting in the digital space?

Filipino mental health experts emphasized the importance of parents as being the model of self-control and moderation of screen use.

But when you suspect that modeling and parental controls are not enough to curb suspected screen addiction, know that there are various group-based and individual treatment regimes that can be used often with success.

Most regimes use a combination of therapeutic approaches,  including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT: changing unhelpful patterns of thinking), motivational interviewing (MI: helping the person come to the point of wanting to make positive changes in their life), family therapy (working with the family unit to reduce things that family does that support healthy use), counseling, and peer support groups, among others.

The School Clinic and Guidance & Wellness Center of Christian Colleges of Southeast Asia-School of Basic Education can help facilitate professional help on this. Talk to us through these lines: (082) 282 3537 or (082) 282 3538.


About the Author:

Gilmarie Bernadine Florida is a frontline associate of CCSA-SBE Guidance & Wellness Center. She is a psychometrician and advocate of mental health and digital literacy.