A level choices: Wants to do 'Digital art/dig. media/commercial art/product design'...

(12 Posts)
Draylon Mon 02-May-16 17:31:02

DS2 is almost 15 and in Y10, doing the usual GCSEs inc double science (voluntarily stepped down from triple), geog, commercial art, Business and economics, Spanish, the Englishes and Maths.

He'll pass them all, probably with Bs (except maybe Eng Lit and Spanish- C?- he's not a great writer); maybe A in Comm. Art and Maths.

He's started looking at sixth form- 16 to 18 studies. He showed interest in A level Moving Image, Product Design, Graphic Design. For the record, he rejected Product Design for GCSE due to the wordiness of it, having to articulately describe and justify in writing his choices.... But he was 13 then, and he'll obviously be 16 when he starts sixth form.

This is uncharted territory for us, but I'm wondering whether DS should be encouraged to do these sorts of things (not necessarily all!), or maybe, should he get an A in GCSE Maths, Maths AS/A2 as well? Or a different combo?

I 'worry' that the issue with these courses is that anyone with drive, interest and flair can get into careers in them (unlike say Maths or Engineering!).

Might he be better of doing a BTEC? Which one? An apprenticeship, but what buzz words do we look for?

TIA

bojorojo Tue 03-May-16 18:23:50

I would look at suitable university courses and work back to the A level choices that are appropriate. The three mentioned do seem very similar. However, an A at Maths GCSE may not be good enough to get a good grade at A level. Also for Engineering at university he will ideally need Physics (or possibly Chemistry) too. However there are all sort of courses that are not engineering degrees but are associated with engineering, and plenty of these are more practical and less demanding academically. If he can get Bs at A level, a university course would be fine so he may not need a BTEC. There may also be apprenticeships that are worthwhile.

Look at a few university courses to see what qualifications they want. He will not get away without writing something though!

catslife Tue 03-May-16 19:10:18

Although Product Design does involve some writing - it's only a fairly small part of the assessment. Most of the marks are for actually making the product rather than designing it iyswim so dcs considering this need to be good at making things (it's a very hands on subject). The other A levels he is considering would probably be a better bet.
There are BTEC options in Creative and Interactive Media. you really need to research carefully whether (or not) they would meet the entry requirements for uni (if he is considering that route).

stairwaytoheaven Tue 03-May-16 19:37:15

Dd had similar gcse predictions and eventually decided that a levels were not for her,she decided to do btec in creative and digital media at local sixth form college,.Level 3 needs 5 gcse including maths and English.She got offers for 4 out of 5 unis and is now in year 2 studying television production.
It's a lot more technical than it sounds but has less exams and much more course based work.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Tue 03-May-16 19:45:35

I agree that working backwards is a good idea. What does he want to do for a job?

Dd is in year 10 and had some thoughts on careers between architecture and graphic design, leaning more towards graphic design. I got some uni brochures and she had a look through to make sure she was happy with what was described about course content and also to make sure there were no other courses she hadn't heard of which might tempt her.

I'm not sure I fully understand your worry about anyone with a flair and interest in such courses/careers being able to do them. You could say that about any course. Not everyone has a flair in such subjects.

TinklyLittleLaugh Sat 07-May-16 01:48:10

My DD is doing a degree in Graphic Design. She is interested in digital stuff/production design lots of creative commercial stuff.

She got all Bs for her GCSEs except As for Art and Textiles. She did Fine Art, Media, Photography and English (at my insistence) for AS. Dropped Photography for A2 and got all Bs for her A levels, which we thought was pretty decent. She then did an Art Foundation course at college.

DD got offers from everywhere she applied to for Uni, (some unconditional), even from really competitive London courses. She is loving her degree, and yes, pretty much everyone is talented and has good ideas. Lots of people are quite lazy and disorganised though so she is not finding it difficult to shine a bit.

bojorojo Mon 09-May-16 13:18:33

My DD was also more of an artist and did Art, Photography and Business Studies for A Level. This was good enough to get the standard low offer (DD I think) from her top choice university (a very niche course to be fair, but at world renown institution). She achieved A* for Photography and A for Art but the quality of the application/portfolio is key when 850 applied for 50 places. If any child finds they are not so good at "academic" subjects, there are "practical" courses but DD has just completed a 8500 word dissertation for her final year so lots of degrees (even art type ones) do require research and writing.

I do think, therefore, doing something broader than 3 art/design A levels is better preparation for degrees. No degree is completely practical. You have to articulate your thoughts and processes in writing and make presentations, so researching what is required is essential.

I forgot to mention earlier, that there are some courses allied to the building/construction industry at the universities that are former polytechnics that are less demanding to get onto than engineering courses. I would investigte these too, OP.

Draylon Mon 09-May-16 14:28:52

Sorry, I wasn't clear in my OP-

What I meant was I am concerned whether doing The Arts at AS/A2 might be a bit of a -ahem- waste of time in that if someone has a genuine flair and ability in, say photography and even design, they don't need a degree in it in order to succeed in it, whereas you need Maths/sciences etc to get a career in Maths or say Engineering. They tend to have far more circumscribed career trajectories.

DS doesn't want to do engineering!

I worry about the numbers of unemployed Arts graduates with the same debts as the more sciency/mathsy/technical degree holders.

I'm not sure DS even wants to go to uni- he hasn't thought that far ahead, tbh! I am keen for him to do Maths at AS/A2 if he has the ability as to me, that's the key A level; I don't want him to do all 3 of the AS/A2s in my OP- just one or two in combination with something to give him more flexibility? He's doing Business and Economics GCSE which he isn't wild about but actually, Business Studies could be quite useful, especially if he leaves 6th form looking for an apprenticeship, say, in a design company.

Or a BTEC in creative media, maybe, instead of ASs? His DB is soon starting a level 3 extended diploma BTEC in IT so we have a bit of familiarity with BTECs, now!

bojorojo Mon 09-May-16 18:51:20

You may be right, but he will need to be able to work and prove he is good enough at, say photography. I am not sure my DD will ever use her Business Studies A level, but it did give an insight into how companies work or whether she might set up her own business etc. I do not really see Maths as a key A level if it does not complement anything else. It would not make DD more employable or make her put together a better portfolio. If you are into arts subjects, and that is what you want for a job, maths is neither here nor there as no-one is asking for it. However, it may come into other aspects of arts but creative media is usually populated by creative people, not mathematicians. It depends what type of people a design company is looking for. 18 year olds with no work experience, or 21 year old degree holders with portfolios, internships and projects behind them. it is copetitive, so usually the young person with the most to offer will get the job.

I am not sure if a BTEC will be better than a degree, if he can be good enough to get onto a degree course, he may enjoy it. There are no doubt unemployed BTEC holders too. The key is contacts! Networking. Universities do get good people in to advise and inspire. These people employ graduates. Having said that, DD is in London where, perhaps, opportunities for netowrking and getting work is greater.

Draylon Tue 10-May-16 11:56:19

No the BTEC would be instead of A levels.

I admit I still worry about the actual job prospects whatever your qualification, although you'd hope a degree would be more useful than A levels.

Choughed Tue 10-May-16 13:22:39

I'm slightly biased because I work for a specialist arts university but I would say that talent and a good degree, plus the industry contacts made at a good uni will set someone up for a great career.

bojorojo Wed 11-May-16 10:42:37

Sorry, I thought you were talking about BTEC higher level courses post A level, but not degree standard, OP.

I think A levels in the right subjects are fine and there are foundation courses too that may be worth a look prior to degree.

I do agree with Choughed. The specialist universities do have good contacts and if DC wants to get onto one of their courses, it is best to prepare by taking the right/best qualifications before application.

Job prospects for arts students are always more difficult than, say, nursing or veterinary science! It just goes with the territory. However, I do not believe there is evidence to say BTEC holders aged 18 do better than degree holders aged 21. It also depends if DC enjoy the prospect of university or whether work suits them better at 18. How many empoyers take on people at 18 and train them? Or do they prefer someone with 3 further years of training at university?

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