Which Degrees are pretty 'pointless'?

(335 Posts)
DreadLock Thu 05-Sep-13 14:51:00

Just starting to look at courses with DS. So many choices. BUT I am sure there are some which are not particularly going to lead to much. Employers - what do you look for on a CV and what would you avoid?
And any other 'views' are welcome.
DS not even sure if he wants to go to UNI so we are having a good look into stuff.

If he's not sure he wants to go I would suggest a gap year, travel, work, do something voluntary - get some life experience, move out, pay bills etc

That'll set him up much better than doing a cause he's only half interested in.

If he decides he really wants to go to uni and has a clear decision on what he wants to study then it'll be worth the thousands of pounds debt he'll be in.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Thu 05-Sep-13 15:09:58

In a lot of cases it is not the subject, but the university that is "not worth it"

If your DS isn't sure as others have suggested maybe take a gap year (but do something worthwhile!) that would give him time to grow and mature and do some thinking about his future. May also help with uni entry.

Have you thought about a Scottish university? There is a lot more scope for chopping and changing due to the extra year.

Eve Thu 05-Sep-13 15:14:08

i read something last year, that said that every student who had a degree in 'Golf course management' ... something most people would dismiss as not being a 'proper' degree all went into jobs, 1 on the Ryder Cup tour team.

Those with English degrees from same university.. less than 50% had jobs.

creamteas Thu 05-Sep-13 15:20:22

No degrees are pointless, but some are better suited to some careers than others grin

To me, there are only two reasons to choose a degree course:

1) You know what you want to do, and need a specific degree to get there (eg medicine, golf management).

2) You have a passion for the subject, and want to study it further.

In my experience, students who undertake a degree in a subject they don't care about, just because they think it will look good on a CV rarely do very well. At the end of the day, a low degree result will look worse on a CV than any quibbles over a subject.

It is much better to go to uni, when you know what you want to study than rush there just because that is what you think you should be doing.

AndThatsWhatIThinkOfYou Thu 05-Sep-13 15:24:56

my friend did 'outdoor leadership' basically rock climbing, kayaking (sp), hiking, and the best one HOW TO BUILD AN IGLOO. yes you did just read that correctly. She now works at the hospital, nothing to do with degree, she just wasted alot of money got into debt, but had fun!

You can get a degree in Harry potter -I would argue that that is pointless.

DreadLock Thu 05-Sep-13 15:29:34

Thanks all, yes agree it is not worth going half heartedly to Uni.

It is all new to me as I am from the era of O and A Levels with only the 'finest' students going off to Uni. We all worked our way up.
Now it seems to be the done thing so it is a learning curve for me.

titchy Thu 05-Sep-13 15:32:02

Ooh link to degree in Harry Potter please jazz....

AndThatsWhatIThinkOfYou Thu 05-Sep-13 15:32:41

where's that at Hogwarts?

SaskiaRembrandtVampireHunter Thu 05-Sep-13 15:42:08

The Harry Potter thing isn't a degree, it's an optional module as part of a BA course at Durham www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wear-11011279

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 05-Sep-13 15:45:28

You can't do a degree in Harry Potter. You can, however, do a module on 'Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion' as part of an Education Studies degree at Durham. This is a 20 credit module. Most degrees require you to earn 120 credits in each of three years, so at best you can do 1/18 of a degree in Harry Potter.

MoutardeDeDijon Thu 05-Sep-13 15:48:38

For most people, the job they end up in has little to do with the subject that they study for their degree. They just end up in jobs with a requirement for a degree. I'm sure there are some subjects that employers look upon more or less favorably, but the university and degree classification are probably much more important.
I would say that a pointless degree is a third class or ordinary degree.

PeterParkerSays Thu 05-Sep-13 15:51:50

I agree with creamteas - you either need a vocational course (law, teaching, golf course management etc.) or a course you are passionate about (English, history, media studies etc).

The "passionate about" courses won't in themselves get you a job, so you'll need to ensure that you have relevant work experience and a good idea of what job you want to get when you complete your course whilst you're still at university.

DoItTooJulia Thu 05-Sep-13 15:54:04

I have a pointless degree. Don't want to name it as it might out me! I also have a vocational degree that has led to my career.

Obviously the vocal all one is the most useful, but I learned a lot in my pointless degree. A lot about me, about critical thinking, proper researching, how to live, budget and manage my time etc etc.

My current employer was very interested in my pointless degree and it has often scored me an interview during job applications as it is such an unusual degree!

12 years later and I'm still paying it off though. That bits not so good, mind.

My line of work is specialised (but not vocational, you don't need professional qualifications like for example pharmacy) and the exact nature of your degree is very important. More so than what university it was from.

In filtering applications, as well as the fit of the degree to the job, what I look for is people who have done a sandwich degree or substantial amounts of relevant work experience before or during their studies. When I say relevant, there is a lot of interpretation involved, I recruited a very good scientist on the basis of what he had put into and got out of his part time job in a shop (as well as his degree).

What are his favourite / best subjects?

LeGavrOrf Thu 05-Sep-13 16:01:13

I know a couple of young people who did crap degrees - one in Football Studies from a really low rated university, one in Gambling Studies.

Both were worthless and they feel a bit pissed off at having wasted the money, and the poor advice they received from their schools at the time.

filee777 Thu 05-Sep-13 16:04:51

I would say choose a career, not a degree and then get a degree if you have to.

TwoStepsBeyond Thu 05-Sep-13 16:10:53

History of Art. I had no idea how pointless it was as I was in a state of emotional turmoil when I chose it and I had no ambitions to work in a gallery or restore paintings etc. What a waste of 3 years! Still, I had a laugh, got drunk a lot, learned how to cook as I had so few lectures I became the 'wife' for my housemates! and met some thoroughly unsuitable blokes. I bet my parents were hoping I'd become the next member of the royal family instead, oops.

TwoStepsBeyond Thu 05-Sep-13 16:11:34

filee very wise words.

ChazzerChaser Thu 05-Sep-13 16:14:01

Exactly what creamteas said. There are no pointless degrees. They're about developing the way you think not the subject matter.

There are of course subjects and universities that people get funny about. But people get funny about everything. And of course some courses and universities open doors others don't but that's more about background and social status than the actual degree.

The men who run the country have degrees in things that are fairly 'pointless'. But they seem to have done ok regardless.

And Harry Potter was a huge phenomenon in children's literature. Why in earth would studying that not be appropriate? It would link in to English literature, understandings of culture, representations of contemporary identities etc etc

catham Thu 05-Sep-13 16:19:55

please list these pointless universities

GrimmaTheNome Thu 05-Sep-13 16:20:21

>Now it seems to be the done thing

becoming less so, now that there's so much to repay. Good thing too - it's making more kids focus on their choices.

LeGavrOrf Thu 05-Sep-13 16:25:33

Southampton Solent for one.

Poledra Thu 05-Sep-13 16:31:33

Someone upthread said ordinary degrees are pointless - I'd disagree with that. In professions where you need to do further qualifications post-degree, a ordinary degree can be quite sufficient. As an example, chartered accountancy is one such career.

GrimmaTheNome Thu 05-Sep-13 16:35:37

Poledra - yes... a lot of the people who got low degrees when I did my chemistry BSc went into accountancy. Or teaching...they may have higher requirements now than 30 years ago. But while the degree in the subject would be vital to the teacher, I don't really see what the point of spending 3 years doing chemistry was if at the end you're going to end up as a trainee accountant.

Surely his choice of course will be somewhat dictated by his A levels?

I'm so old that sociology was the joke degree.

If he has no clear direction then I agree with the gap year suggestion. Just after reading another thread about school exams expiring if he wants to go to uni eventually maybe aim to go within 5 years of exams?

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 16:42:45

Accountancy, management consulting and professional services firms DO NOT LIKE "relevant" degrees.
they like analytical pure subject degrees that prove academic prowess and thinking skills
Pure Sciences
Pure humanities

Many of the old 'milkround' companies like linguists as it proves versatility

'proper' degrees are about learning how to think more than a particular subject

Medicine, Architecture etc are of course special cases

Poledra Thu 05-Sep-13 16:43:16

Ah - I wasn't very clear there Grimma - I was thinking of an ordinary degree in accountancy, to then go on and become a CA. It was an active choice of a friend of mine to not do his honours but leave to get on with his CA exams. Your point is well-madegrin

ChazzerChaser Thu 05-Sep-13 16:44:28

Because you're interested in chemistry. What degree would there be a point of doing before being an accountant? You could do a highly related one and be exempt from some of the exams certainly, so you'd get a couple of years head start. But you might have no interest in the subject so get a poor result in the degree and therefore not get the accountancy place in the first place. Accountancy firms aren't looking for people who've wanted to be accountants since the age of 16 to the detriment of everything else.

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 16:44:45

another vote that Southampton Solent will not look good on a CV

filee777 Thu 05-Sep-13 16:44:57

Southampton Solent think they are a bit good though, they refused to look at my application for a social work degree even though I got into a much more relevant uni and they offer next to no statutory placements. Useless is the correct term!

GrimmaTheNome Thu 05-Sep-13 16:46:02

I'm afraid an ordinary or third in chemistry does not prove 'academic prowess and thinking skills' though. Rather the contrary.

DreadLock Thu 05-Sep-13 16:46:22

Gosh, all very interesting. Maybe he will just do well in his A's and get a job which he can work his way up. It is all quite a muddle in my head as not only are we looking at possible 'pointless' degrees but also 'pointless uiversities'

I may need to go into a darkened room grin
Seriously though I am keen to learn the process and how all these degrees work.
His strengths are History and Maths. What got me thinking was I read somewhere that History is the most pointless degree, and I thought it was a rather academic one myself. Hence my OP.

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 16:47:38

speaking as the holder of a Third class honours degree, they are remarkably hard to get nowadays and mine has stood me in excellent stead. And the amount I drank to get it has preserved me well.

nooka Thu 05-Sep-13 16:48:30

People can be incredibly snobby about both degrees and universities, and that of course is a part of the problem if you have someone like that vetting applications.

I have an interesting degree from a not particularly respected university except in a few fields including my degree, where it was one of the very first internationally. Not that that is particularly relevant as I have never worked in the field. However it was primarily an academic rather than a vocational subject and I learned a huge amount about critical thinking which has been invaluable. I don't think it did me any particular harm or favours work wise, although it's an interesting talking point.

Both dh and I also have vocational masters, taken in my case while I was working in a related field, while dh's was in order to retrain. Very very different calibers but I think dh's was particularly good 'even though' it was from a poly because they were very connected with their industry and dh came out with highly in demand skills.

So I think for vocational courses look for employment rates, and for academic courses look for research ratings. Either way it's no good if you don't enjoy the course and work hard. If either are a bit of a question mark right now, then I would also recommend a year out.

LookingForwardToVino Thu 05-Sep-13 16:49:01

Another one wondering what the pointless universities are?

LeGavrOrf Thu 05-Sep-13 16:49:16

I would say History from a good university would be classed as a great choice.

LickleLemon Thu 05-Sep-13 16:49:38

A few years back I saw some young lad on This Morning who had just gained a degree in Air Guitar. I often wonder where it led him in life.

I didnt really know what I wanted to be when I was 18! But I knew I enjoyed science and maths, so I did a degree in those.

Failed my final year and so I've got one of those "pointless" pass degrees (thanks.) No opportunity to resit it either.

And so I ended up as a Chartered Accountant, with a rather irrelevant degree in nuclear physics.

My son's just graduated in what some would call a "pointless degree" in theatre sound. But he seems to be making a living in that field (judging from the lack of "Mum can I have some money" phone calls.)

And someone on another net site was livid that my daughter is using tax-payers money to do a degree in dance. Meh, I daresay she'll be able to earn money from it, and when she finishes her dancing career (it's a short and brutal one), she'll have a 3rd level education on her CV, evidence of an ability to study, write, reasearch etc.

TL:DR - there are no pointless degrees.

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 16:50:47

"pointless universities"
have a look at clearing - which institutions have the most spaces left and in the daftest sounding courses
as really good unis will not have much left at all

Stokey Thu 05-Sep-13 16:51:30

I look for academic subjects rather than vocational subjects when I interview people. I work in finance but am surrounded by people who have degrees in arts/science subjects rather than economics.
I disagree that career choice is more important. I think it is difficult to decide on a career when you are 18.
I have friends who did degrees as varied as social anthropology, engineering and classics that went on to be lawyers for example.

But if your son is not sure if he wants to go to university at all, maybe he should just try working for a bit and see what happens.

LeGavrOrf Thu 05-Sep-13 16:51:31

Apparently the boat building or yachting related courses at Southampton Solent are very good and lead to full employment (sounding similar to the golf degree above).

But Football Studies there is a waste of thousands of pounds.

Bue Thu 05-Sep-13 16:51:40

I thought the Football Studies course must be an error. So I googled. Well imagine my shock! Also have never even heard of Southampton Solent!

I, and nearly all my friends (apart from the ones who did Engineering), did traditional, non-vocational degree subjects and then eventually went on to do some postgraduate training. This was 10ish years ago now but it seems to have worked out fine for all of us. I still believe that a solid degree from a solid uni, even if it doesn't seem immediately applicable to anything, is not a waste.

DreadLock Thu 05-Sep-13 16:52:37

Another question. Do most 17 year olds know what they want to do as a career or is it just mine? Mine is a very young 17 btw august boy if that makes any difference to their maturity. Maybe he will develop an interest in a career oer the next year? {hopeful emoticon}

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 16:54:01

Do not confuse Solent's "yacht management" degree (my tenants were doing that one) with City College's yacht building C&G .....

must check if they still do Weather Forecast presentation
and the Art Appreciation tenant was an utter gimboid

nooka Thu 05-Sep-13 16:55:10

It totally depends on what you mean by pointless. dh has a history degree, which he took because he is passionate about history. It is not a vocational degree except if you want to be a history teacher or academic, and the problem with that is that both are difficult to get into because there are too many history graduates who want to stay in their field. This might have changed but I recall when dh was first looking for a job that the ration of applicants to posts was one of the worst.

That doesn't make it a pointless degree however. If you want to take a vocational course with the expectation of it leading to a job then you need to know what you want to do after you graduate and do a lot of research. You also have to be open minded, as some of the odder courses at the less prestigious places actually have the highest rates of post degree employment as the courses were essentially set up to meet an industry demand. If you change your mind about what you want to do during the course of the degree that might be problematic though.

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 16:55:24

I knew I never wanted to work in an office : cocked that up by ending up as an accountant
None of my friends from Uni had any idea (apart from the medics) till about half way through degrees

Poledra Thu 05-Sep-13 16:55:51

DreadLock I don't have teens yet but IME, most of them do not have a scooby-doo what they really want to do. Which is why choosing a subject you enjoy and therefore will work hard at (hopefully!) is probably ther best course of action. Or taking some time out, maturing a bit then going back to studying once you have a better idea where you want your life to go.

creamteas Thu 05-Sep-13 16:56:21

have a look at clearing - which institutions have the most spaces left and in the daftest sounding courses as really good unis will not have much left at all

This will not help at all now. Since all universities can recruit as many ABB students as they want, many of the best universities in the country go into clearing and stay in clearing until it is certain that now more ABB students are available to be recruited!!

Clearing might have the same name, but it is now as much about good universities pinching students off each other as filling unfilled places grin

Dackyduddles Thu 05-Sep-13 16:56:42

It entirely depends. Do most adults? Some have no clue. Some want to work in fashion but know no more. Some know they want to be heart surgeons.

If he's not convinced encourage things like camp America or vocational training. Uni is fun but it ain't be all/end all.

nooka Thu 05-Sep-13 16:57:30

What I wanted to do as a career at 17 was very different to what I wanted at 21, and neither bore any resemblance to what I actually do!

callamia Thu 05-Sep-13 16:59:21

There's no such thing as a pointless degree, OR a pointless institution - it's about the individual doing it, and how well it suits them.

I have colleagues who have degrees from some fairly poorly thought of universities, who through hard work and ability have done incredibly well in their careers. Similarly, I have friends who went to Russell Group universities who have done relatively poorly in terms of career.

There is no point going to university just because you feel like you should - students should go because they're genuinely interested in the subject, and can see where it might lead them. It doesn't matter if they change their mind - but being motivated enough to go with the idea that they will also seek out relevant work experience etc. is worth more than what/where it is.

FWIW, I'm still paying off my degree (12 years later), but I wouldn't have the career or life I have without it, so I don't feel too grudging about it (except when the tax office screws up and charges me for a year at once...)

Dackyduddles Thu 05-Sep-13 16:59:53

FYI I'm a ba hons in art history. Only worked in it briefly. Worked in finance in city. A degree shows a level of aptitude. No more no less. Whether you stay in the field or not.

If he's really good at Maths and History how about law as an aspirational goal OP ? I wish I'd known that a variety of (solid) subjects can be suitable for applying for law - it was a mystery to me. (Careers ed not so good in the early 80s)

FairPhyllis Thu 05-Sep-13 17:01:54

History at a good university would be more than fine. Does he have any languages? He could do a History with French/German/whatever degree. Maths probably not the best choice for a degree unless you are also taking Further Maths - the best places probably require both.

I still think that unless you want to do something definitely vocational like medicine or nursing, then the best bet is to study either 1) a traditional academic subject that you enjoy at the best university you can get into, or 2) a course which is focused on getting its graduates into industry with a sandwich year placement in industry (eg engineering, industrial design type things etc).

I would step away from degrees in accountancy, media studies, cultural studies, business studies, History of Ideas, History of Art etc.

I think one thing which can work well for many people is to find a job which sponsors you to do a degree on day release - my cousin did not amazingly well in his A Levels, then somehow miraculously managed to get a post as a trainee toxicologist and is doing a part time degree while working. I think that probably works best for sciences though.

jazzcat28 Thu 05-Sep-13 17:02:13

I agree with someone up thread who said that most people choose their degrees based on a) intended career if known at the age of 17 or b) a subject they are passionate about.

I personally went with option b) and did a music degree, and am now working towards an MSc in something totally unrelated - engineering project management!

The degree will get you in the door for some jobs with the right intelligence, proactiveness and eagerness to learn on the job. Obviously I can't apply to be a vet or something but I basically started at a graduate level admin/project support role and worked my way up to project manager and am now quite respected. Most of my colleagues are shock when they realise what my undergrad was in.

I would ask your DS if he has a passion for a particular career. If not, then either some sort of gap year / year in industry to think about it or alternatively a degree in something he is passionate in.

Remember that once he has his degree, he doesn't necessarily have to limit himself to applying for jobs that are specifically related to his degree. I get very frustrated with my cousin who has a history degree who thinks he can only be a member of Time Team or a history teacher. It's all about transferrable skills, work experience, application of intelligence etc. It doesn't help his mother keeps saying "don't apply for that, what a waste of your history degree / your degree background doesn't fit".

DreadLock Thu 05-Sep-13 17:02:28

Aaw you are all so good with your advice and info. It is greatly appreciated.

I know he is excellent at Maths but abhors the subject. So that is out. History he really enjoys.

Saying all of this he is very money motivated and I think he sees employment, getting a car and spending money as his main priority, so quite possibly it will be a year out.

Will be keeping my eye on all the higher ed threads over the next year though to try to learn a bit more about it.

ChazzerChaser Thu 05-Sep-13 17:03:22

I also don't understand why football studies is pointless. Football is a global, squillion pound industry. It's hugely relevant culturally in the contemporary world. Why on earth wouldn't we study that?

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 17:07:07

having just been faffing on clearing for a minute, nope
most of the established unis have very little left
but some of the course names at unis I had to look up were a shocking reason to run up £50,000 of debt (and had entry requirements of 80 UCAS points)

creamteas Thu 05-Sep-13 17:08:39

I would be wary of investing in a degree at a FE college (some offer it now), but other than that I would not dismiss any university completely as pointless.

There is lots of information about each degree at each university, including graduate destinations on the Unistats website. You need to look at the dept as well as the university's track record.

In my discipline, there are some really good depts that get their students into excellent careers at ex-poly universities, and there are some depts that have a really poor record of student satisfaction and poor graduate outcomes despite being a 'well-respected' university.

Weegiemum Thu 05-Sep-13 17:09:06

We always joked at Uni that anything with "...Studies" was crap.

This might have been because of the guaranteed easy option for a second year additional course ... yes ... I give you ... Canadian Studies!

I wrote a rather good essay on the Polar DEW and nuclear defence, though.

I really think that out with the vocational options, the "pure" subjects are good - my first degree is in Geography (and yes I did become a geog teacher!) and I have another in Theology.

Most important though is to do something you enjoy. No point doing Theoretical Physics and hating every moment!

stemstitch Thu 05-Sep-13 17:11:22

History is a fine subject to study at uni (History grad here - now a lawyer).

Re what is or is not a 'good' uni - the Russell group is generally a good guide. List of unis here - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/contents

It is not absolutely exhaustive (e.g. I know quite a few bright lawyers in good firms with degrees from Keele and St. Andrew's is good and Reading), but a History degree (2.1. or above) from any of those will stand you in perfectly good stead for a professional career.

MissHC Thu 05-Sep-13 17:12:16

Please wait for him to go to uni until he KNOWS what he wants to do. My DP has an undergraduate masters (MSc- 4 years course) in Chemistry from Manchester Uni. Not really a "useless" degree as such however it was for him as in his 2nd year he realised that yes he was very good at it but it' was not what he wanted as a career. Finished degree anyway as he had started it and got 2:1 (and was offered PhD from same uni which he declined) and did law conversion + BVC (barrister course). Works in financial law now and very happy with his decision, however it got him into a LOT of debt that we're still paying off (at £600 a month for another 3 years!) so please do consider carefully before just choosing a degree...

creamteas Thu 05-Sep-13 17:14:39

If he wants something with a foot in both the academic and vocational, for example History and Archaeology? Sometimes joint degrees can give you extra options!

LookingForwardToVino Thu 05-Sep-13 17:17:02

Ummm stemstitch that is a link to the sexual offences act wink

Sorry to hijack OP but what do people think of degrees from OU?

I'm currently juggling a Business degree around 2 jobs and being a single mother.

Is that going to be sneered at in a few years time?

noddyholder Thu 05-Sep-13 17:35:32

I did English Lit and am an interior designer. It doesn't really matter unless you are going to be a doctor/lawyer etc

DreadLock Thu 05-Sep-13 17:37:27

dont worry about hijacks, I am finding it all very interesting. Ask away and discuss freely all aspects of degrees and uni's.

ColdfeetGreysocks Thu 05-Sep-13 17:41:59

In general, you want to be picking from closer to the top of lists like these:

(Other papers devise their own lists based on other criteria...)

BUT, some universities from towards the back end of this list will excel at whatever area is their specialty. For example, Abertay Dundee is at 114 (out of 119), but is probably the best place/one of the best places in the UK to study computer game design. Likewise, UC Suffolk at #98 I think is really strong in Education (formerly a teacher training college, probably)*.

And then for degrees, something like computer game design would be great if he wanted to be a computer game designer for absolutely sure, but probably wouldn't impress anyone much if he later decided he wanted to work in banking. A maths degree would help with either.

History (and similar) will prove he can think.

And then also think about where he'd like to live. For example, if he's from a tiny village, the thought of moving to a huge city might be terrifying and a middling sized town a better option. Or he might be desperate for the bright lights. If you're in London now, he might find some smaller towns just too damn small. (My own criteria were direct train line home but far enough away that no-one was going to pop in unannounced.)

*I'm remembering this fairly randomly to illustrate my point. Don't apply to UC Suffolk to study education without checking!

weebarra Thu 05-Sep-13 17:44:00

weegiemum - you didn't go to Edinburgh did you?
I have a joint hons degree in philosophy & psychology which was very interesting but by no means vocational. I then did a vocational focused PGDip and a year's on the job training.
There's a publication by prospects (should be online) called "what do graduates do?" which is useful in looking at graduate destinations.

weebarra Thu 05-Sep-13 17:44:01

weegiemum - you didn't go to Edinburgh did you?
I have a joint hons degree in philosophy & psychology which was very interesting but by no means vocational. I then did a vocational focused PGDip and a year's on the job training.
There's a publication by prospects (should be online) called "what do graduates do?" which is useful in looking at graduate destinations.

ColdfeetGreysocks Thu 05-Sep-13 17:44:03

@southern, if you applied for a job with me and told me you'd gotten your degree whilst juggling 2 jobs with childcare, I'd hire you instantly. For anything. smile

GrimmaTheNome Thu 05-Sep-13 17:44:55

Yes - for some subjects you probably also want to check things like the RAE rankings.

Weegiemum Thu 05-Sep-13 17:45:54

I did go to Edinburgh!


pyrrah Thu 05-Sep-13 17:58:49

My 0.02p worth:

1) Check the work load expected - my first degree (at an RG) had 6 hours of lectures a week, all on Tuesdays, no tutorials and one essay a term. Frankly we could have all finished the degree in a year - over half the students had left by the end of the first year and if we'd been expected to pay £9k, I imagine people would have sued.

My second degree was 9-5 on-site everyday, fortnightly deadlines, all projects done for companies or for competitions, a 3 month placement in the industry and a compulsory foreign language.

2) Be wary of applying to a low ranked university for a popular subject. A law degree from a not well-regarded alumnus is not going to get you into one of the top firms unless you are very lucky.

3) If you want to do Law, go and do something more interesting like History and then a Law Conversion course later.

State of mind is also important. I'm shocked at the debts some people are running up at university (the excessive lifestyle ones) and the way many people seem to regard it as 3 years of getting pissed and watching daytime TV. If that is what you are after then get a job for a few years and then go back when you've grown up a bit.

ChazzerChaser Thu 05-Sep-13 18:07:28

It's also worth thinking about what will suit your son. Those with good research ratings will be good at research. To do this the people who achieve these ratings might be locked away in offices generating research outputs whilst the phd students do all the teaching. Lower down the REF they might be more focused on good supportive teaching and getting the best out of students from all backgrounds. That's certainly my experience. Will your son work well independently or does he need a bit more support?

exoticfruits Thu 05-Sep-13 18:08:47

I would say don't bother going and getting into all that debt if you have no clear idea of what you want to do. Have a year out and get a job while you think about it. At the moment there must be at least 60+ applicants after every graduate job and our restaurants and shops are staffed with graduates from very good universities with very good academic degrees.
It is no guarantee to say that an academic degree from a good university will open doors. You need to really research your subject and the institution. Find out how many are employed in graduate level jobs after 6 months. You can't just rule out places like Southampton Solent- yes they probably would be a mistake on most courses but they will have pockets of expertise. I wouldn't say that a history degree was a lot of use if you want a career immersed in history - unless you wish to teach it. You could however use it for other things.

Coldfeet that's nice to hear!

I've just chosen my next two modules, can't wait to get started.

My jobs are both crap but I keep thinking "this isn't forever"


stemstitch Thu 05-Sep-13 18:19:19

Haha sorry! Could have been so much worse...

OK here's the proper one www.russellgroup.ac.uk/our-universities.aspx

CatsWearingTutus Thu 05-Sep-13 18:24:13

Engineering, if he does well enough, would set him up for a good, solid career. Check the occupational shortage list from the uk border authority to see exactly what is in demand at the moment and you'll see engineers feature heavily. Dyson was on the news just yesterday stating they couldn't hire enough engineers as there just aren't enough available.

AvonCallingBarksdale Thu 05-Sep-13 18:24:36

When I went (a zillion years ago), it was more important which uni you went to, rather than what you did there, although, I suppose the "good" unis offered the "good" courses. I did a traditional degree at a russell group uni - DH did a "new-fangled" degree at a new uni (aka old Poly). He feels he's had to prove himself more than me as a result.

CatsWearingTutus Thu 05-Sep-13 18:25:03

Ha! Dancers are on that list, and my daughter's college is named as well!

Thank you so much for that - useful comeback info next time I'm under attack for letting them do arsty farsty hobby degrees grin

weebarra Thu 05-Sep-13 18:35:46

weegiemum - I was '95-'99. Knew a lot of people who did Canadian Studies as an outside subject! I did Classical Literature...

morethanpotatoprints Thu 05-Sep-13 18:52:50

No Degree is pointless when an employer expects one for a particular job.

You could argue that many of the none academic subjects are useless but then try and get a job without one.
Media has had a lot of stick over the past 5 or so years, but if you want to go into this type of work you are disadvantaged without one.

happybubblebrain Thu 05-Sep-13 18:58:08

My degree was a bit pointless, but I don't regret it, it was 3 years of my adult life not working, so totally worth it. Plus degrees were free in those days, I don't think I'd bother doing a pointless degree now, better to spend the money travelling, a deposit for a house or setting up a business.

exoticfruits Thu 05-Sep-13 19:11:59

I wouldn't agree at all with that list CatsWearingTutus-my DS should have walked into a job in that case, not had triple figures for every application and most places wanting experience. He got there in the end -but only after a year of trying.

ImperialBlether Thu 05-Sep-13 19:13:27

pyrrah, I was at a RG university in the 80s and we had 8 hours of lectures per week. My daughter's just been to a different one and had the same. I think you are guilty of mis-remembering if you think there was just one essay per term.

In any case, I was told and my daughter was told that we were there to learn not to be taught. I put in a lot of time outside lessons and my daughter (who did much better than I did) spent a hell of a lot of time - probably 60 hours pw - working on her own, particularly in the third year.

And for those saying History isn't worth studying - I am absolutely amazed!

CatsWearingTutus Thu 05-Sep-13 19:14:55

Exotic it isn't my list, take it up with the uk government grin glad to hear your DS has found something

happybubblebrain Thu 05-Sep-13 19:19:02

A degree shows a level of aptitude. No more no less.

I disagree, nowadays it just shows you have rich parents.

exoticfruits Thu 05-Sep-13 19:20:28

So am I! It was hell at the time. Just utterly surprised it was a shortage-I realised when he went that it would be difficult, but he was single minded. To give him his due he did research it- he only had 3 places on his UCAS form and one he dropped before the interview as his heart wasn't in it.

exoticfruits Thu 05-Sep-13 19:21:37

DS1 wasn't any better off having a science degree from a RG university.

I think I went to Southampton Solent

(it was so good I can't remember)

It wasn't called Southampton Solent then though

Or was Southampton Solent already the other bit with the boat building and stuff?
I went to the Arty bit in the City Centre, (East Park terrace)

<expects people to know WTF she is waffling on about>

itried Thu 05-Sep-13 19:27:08

DS was not academic but was always technically minded. He attended a university that is very low rated. He chose a specialised engineering degree thus, I thought, really cutting down his chances of employment. How pleased I am to have been wrong. He has his dream career as a design engineer.

HangingGardenofBabbysBum Thu 05-Sep-13 19:30:56

Any degree chosen soley on the basis of how it will look on a CV.

I used to recruit graduates; it was quite clear which ones had gone to University because they assumed it would give them the right to a job.

I went a million years ago, studied something I loved for the sheer interest, and haven't used the content. The ability to think, question, debate, research and work by and for myself has been invaluable.

I don't see those values quite so often now, but in my day it was a very small percentage who went, not an automatic 'well, I'm off to Uni. One of them. To do something.' Which a friend's DS announced this summer.

LeGavrOrf Thu 05-Sep-13 19:33:22

It used to be Southampton Institute iirc kitten.

Southampton Institute of Higher Education

I still love Southampton
I would like to retire down that way
So it cant have been that bad!

LeGavrOrf Thu 05-Sep-13 19:40:40

No, he absolutely loved Southampton, just wished that he had gone to Southampton uni and studied something else (he had the grades to have for in).

Bue Thu 05-Sep-13 19:44:26

weegie that explains why you know about Canadian Studies!

Easy there, the study of my home and native land is no less relevant and important than the study of... football. grin

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 19:51:11

LeGavrof I liked the town so much I still live here!
I was at uni back when the government gave us grants not debts!

kitten Which pubs in Bevois valley did you frequent? - we have almost certainly met wink

Open University degrees are extremely well regarded in the right circumstances.
Various friends from Uni time ballsed up then and dropped out. Did lower tier jobs for 10 years then found their niche and did OU degree and then masters and are now as high flying if not more so than any of us.

Mumzy Thu 05-Sep-13 19:56:40

Years ago you could do a 'useless' degrees and it would be ok because:
i) it was free
ii) since only 10% of the population went to university even a graduate with a 'useless' degree had a certain rarity value and you could get onto a graduate training programme or a conversion course to pursue a professional career.

These days with 40% heading to university I would not advise my dcs to do a non vocational arts, languages or a pure science degree unless:
i) they had an appitude for and significant interest in the subject
ii) could get into a top 5 university
iii) get at least a 2i in the subject.

pertempsnooo Thu 05-Sep-13 20:06:15

History of Art here too. Sadly. I LOVE the subject and am thinking of doing an MA. Yes I am MAD.

mathanxiety Thu 05-Sep-13 20:10:24

If he likes maths and history maybe he should set his sights on economics in a very good university. You need reliable advice on what constitutes a very good university.

Engineering is another career where being good at maths is important. Is he doing physics?

And computer science also requires maths.

thereistheball Thu 05-Sep-13 20:13:58

I haven't read through the whole thread, but did work closely with a brilliant in-house recruitment person for a subject-specialist consultancy firm. Her brief, from management, was to ignore all of the hundreds of applications we received unless they were from Oxford, Cambridge, or about three non-Russell-Group universities that had stand-out degree courses (I think Aberystwyth was one of them). My point is that many (lazy, busy or overwhelmed) recruiters rely on universities to do their sorting for them. So if your DS doesn't have a subject he is passionate about, and does decide to go to university, and cares about what he does afterwards, he should aim for the most prestigious establishment he has a shot at. Good luck!

SunnyL Thu 05-Sep-13 20:19:57

I have a degree in zoology. It was very interesting but there aren't many jobs for zoologists out there. However a science degree from a red brick uni is a good route to employment. Lots go on to work in various industries if not zoology.

I still use my degree but I'm not a zoologist.

furfoxsake Thu 05-Sep-13 20:27:34

My DB did law at a great university because he thought it would look good on his CV, and he passed his A-levels to get in with little effort.

He put even less effort into his degree and scraped a third after a whole dropping-out drama. If we ask him anything about law now he hasn't a clue, and 16 years later he struggles to hold down a job in IT.

So doing a pointful degree at a good university doesn't necessarily do you any good at all!

Snog Thu 05-Sep-13 20:32:23

DP did history at Oxford (uni not poly!) - 2:2 hons and it hasn't been useful to him in employment
Fortunately he didn't have to pay for it as he is old. But he did enjoy it
maybe too much

littlemisswise Thu 05-Sep-13 20:47:40

DS1 has just turned down his place to do History and Politics at Loughborough. He only applied because the school said he should. He did really well in his GCSEs, he did really well in his A levels but his heart isn't in it ATM.

He knows what he wants to do, which is join the Forces. He has applied for that this week. He wants to earn money, buy a better car, live life a bit. He worked out how much debt he will have from Uni and it doesn't interest him for now.

I would rather he would follow what he feels is right for him, than go half heated to Uni because I know he won't stick at it. He'll drop out before the end of the first year. If he doesn't get in to the Forces he will look at a different degree course next year.

Which pubs in Bevois valley did you frequent? - we have almost certainly met

* Talkinpeace * I am quite old grin
I was there from 1987 to 1990
I can't remember the name of the pubs

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 20:57:50

You're younger than me!
Crown and Sceptre, Hobbit, New Inn, Bevois Castle, Dorchester .....

Andcake Thu 05-Sep-13 21:03:58

Have to admit I'm a bit of a snobbish recruiter. Not sure what Russell group are exactly but I tend to discriminate against ex polys, degrees with the word studies in etc
I also for some roles prefer more academic degrees than business as well rounded thinking is more valuable.
Ou- absolutely fine - as its about circumstances.
I suggest a gap year work combined with any travel if he an afford it.
Then a history degree if he is keen - but 3 yrs plus the debt is a lot if you don't love a subject.

I think I remember the Bevois Castle

We used to go to the town centre nightclub, there was a fatal incident outside it not long after I left iirc.

SunshineBossaNova Thu 05-Sep-13 21:26:19

I've recruited people for a number of roles within my old team. (I'm a mature English undergrad at a 1994 group uni at the mo - I love it.)

I didn't employ people on the basis of their degrees. I was looking for people with intelligence, relevant experience, enthusiasm and aptitude. In my first team our administrator had a first. She's now managing the team, and she'll be much better at it than I ever was smile

Blueberryveryberry Thu 05-Sep-13 21:46:11

what do you think about Birkbeck? Be honest please.

Talkinpeace Thu 05-Sep-13 21:50:28

they tend to do well on Universally Challenged grin

iclaudius Thu 05-Sep-13 21:57:16

i agree it is the establishment more than the degree course
often a dicky degree course can only be found at a dicky establishment

Dackyduddles Thu 05-Sep-13 22:14:06

History? Earning? Spending? Cars?

He's a baby banker. Ha ha! Seriously, has he looked at the Banks?

He should.

SlumberingDormouse Thu 05-Sep-13 23:02:16

I beg to differ - many people don't know what they want to do at 17/18, and no amount of careers advice would change that. I would say that IF you're academic enough to get into a good university, do it anyway, work hard, and give yourself more time to think about what career you want. If you don't have good grades, don't bother. Go for an apprenticeship or an entry-level job.

I didn't decide on my career until I was 21. It's true that my degree isn't related to my career, but without my degree I would not have been able to progress to the further study I'm doing now.

nbee84 Thu 05-Sep-13 23:28:17

Eve mentioned golf management studies near the beginning of the thread.

My dd did the PGA Applied Golf management Studies at Birmingham. Her Dad and I were concerned that others would see it as 'Mickey Mouse' degree and even worried ourselves that it would not be of much benefit in the workplace. She did this degree because she knew she wanted to work within the golf industry (though wasn't entirely sure where or what) and she knew she would enjoy the studying and work involved as golf and business were her passion.

Pleased to report that, only 3 years after her degree finished, she earns more than either of her parents and is a higher rate tax payer.

manicinsomniac Fri 06-Sep-13 01:20:29

I don't think any degrees or unis are 'pointless' per se but some are less useful than others, less well regarded than others or pointless to an individual.

I have a traditional academic degree with a 2:1 from Durham University. I wanted to do a performing arts degree at Aberystwyth Uni. My parents were horrified and talked me out of it, thinking I couldn't possibly do anything useful with it.

Obviously they were wrong and I could have become a performing arts teacher with a performing arts degree. But the choice that they I made was the better choice - I would not have got a job in such a good school without a degree from a top ranked uni and top ranked unis tend not to offer subjects like that. Also, had the performing arts idea not worked out, I wouldn't have had much else to fall back on. Whereas my very academic degree could have led me on to other things.

So, although performing arts is not, imo, a pointless degree it is less useful in life that a more adaptable, well regarded traditional degree.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 03:01:58

All unis have to publish their employment statistics by degree now. You can search them on Unistats. Google it, or just go to any Uni web page and any course and there will be a link from there.

Stats show that most employers have opinions on five to ten British Unis at most. The other Unis they can't remember if they are any good or not, and so at that point the employability thing depends on the reputation of that individual course, which itself is very often linked to the quality of work experience.

Pick a Uni where he has a fighting chance of a 2:1 because if he gets a 2:2 it is going to be hard to get a job.

The other thing you should look closely at is drop out rates. Don't touch anything where it is over 10 per cent. Oxbridge has 1 per cent.

Chunderella Fri 06-Sep-13 08:00:05

A degree needs to do one of two things:

a) Have very practical application and prepare you for a particular job. So engineering, social work, computer related degrees and yes even some of the more random sounding ones like golf course management. I actually remember reading about that when it was first publicised and thinking it probably had a very high employability rate. My only worry would be that it's so very specific, you'd wonder if a broader hospitality management course might be better. Institution isn't necessarily as important here, and often the top providers are the old polys. Most 'new' universities have one or two courses that are the top rated in the country.

b) Show how clever you are. So history at an ancient university or redbrick, yes. History at a new university, less so. Like it or not, you have to factor in snobbery here. It matters how the world regards your degree, so institution is very important.

This is unless you or your parents are rich enough for you to spunk 30 grand on a degree without having to think about how it will affect your future prospects, in which case fair enough and fill your boots.

I've been interested to read people's accounts of how their degrees have or haven't affected their careers, but I think we need to be aware that it's an entirely different ball park now. From this thread I get the impression that I'm one of the youngest on it, late 20s. Even ten years ago it was a different world. We're in the middle of a stonking recession, and a degree has no rarity value now as it did during the last economic crisis. And students are being asked to spend so much more. It would be quite irresponsible of us to pretend to teenagers that these things don't matter. I'm not saying don't choose your degree for love, I did, but it's a considerably more expensive luxury now than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago.

CarpeVinum Fri 06-Sep-13 08:12:42

I see Southampton Solent is being named as an example of a not so good uni.

Ack! cos my 13 yo CodeAcademy addict was all excited when this popped up on a search

Would the name of the uni itself be an automatic turn off ? And how do you access is all that info rolling around at the bottom of the screen? Is 60% OK or outstandingly awful? And why does it keep moving so I can't read it without going crosseyed ?

He is only 13 so no firm decisions to be made any time soon, but he is fascinated and wildly excited by the sheer range of subjects Britain has compared to the far far tighter (and more traditional) choices where we live.

Generally speaking is it more advisable to do a HNC/HND at a "good" college than a degree at a "bad" university ?

Thank god I have five years to get my head around all this with him (while no doubt he changes his mind fifty squillion times grin ). There is so much choice in Britain, which is fabulous, but spoiled for choice means a lot more ground work to work out what's what.

Abra1d Fri 06-Sep-13 08:23:27

Media has had a lot of stick over the past 5 or so years, but if you want to go into this type of work you are disadvantaged without one.'

I don't know any BBC journalists or journalists on quality broadsheet newspapers who have Media Studies degrees. They seem to be historians or English graduates, or linguists.

slev Fri 06-Sep-13 08:44:49

Can I just object to this bit - Poledra - yes... a lot of the people who got low degrees when I did my chemistry BSc went into accountancy.

As an accountant, I'd point out that the expectations are still that you have a decent degree - particularly if you want a graduade position with study support etc. - a 2:1 was a minimum in most of the graduate schemes I applied to. But the subject isn't necessarily that relevant - my degree's in languages so hasn't helped me a bit with being an accountant. However it has taught me to be articulate, given me confidence when speaking and a lot of soft skills that you can't really get a degree in but are vital to being a professional.

I'd heartily recommend doing something you enjoy - if you're doing it for 3/4 years you're going to get very sick of it if you do something just because you think it will look good. I'd also say that university helps you grow and gain independence and that's invaluable - worth going for that as much as the degree.

When we were looking at courses we had a presentation from one university who gave some advice which I think is really relevant. He put up a list of degree courses, and next to it a list of jobs/careers and asked us to match the degree to the job. It was almost impossible - the point of this was to highlight that unless you have a specific career in mind which obviously needs a specific degree (eg: medicine/law) then in a large number of cases just the fact that you have a degree is sufficient.

He also said that it was more important to pick a course that really interested you, rather than one you thought would lead to a good job as when the going got tough if you love your subject you are far more likely to carry on.

It has been helpful for our DT's as they made their choices and they are both off in a couple of weeks (gulp) to do courses (which also have a year in business) in subjects that they really interested in.

nooka Fri 06-Sep-13 08:48:26

Personally I think that very vocationally orientated studies make a lot more sense when you are in the workforce, especially if you can get your employer to pay smile I do think it is easier to study practical type stuff when you are actually doing it otherwise it's all a bit abstract and meaningless.

thegreylady Fri 06-Sep-13 09:00:08

My ds did a History degree at Bangor and got a 2:2. He then did a TEFL course which he used on his 'gap year' during which he taught in Turkey, met his wife and gradually became a HoD in a boarding school there. He now has a prestigious position with a publishing company and an MA in linguistics.

niceguy2 Fri 06-Sep-13 09:21:25

in a large number of cases just the fact that you have a degree is sufficient.

I personally disagree with that Frosty. I certainly think in the past that was the case but no more. There are so many graduates leaving uni every year now, all chasing the same jobs that having a relevant degree is going to stand you in better stead than any degree.

Take for example business. Let's say a large corporate wants to take on a few management trainees. Who would be more suited? The graduate who did a business related course? Or the one who studied archeology?

Sure if you absolutely outshine the competition then your degree subject may not matter as much. But given competition is so fierce nowadays I'd say that anything that can give you a little edge has to be a good thing.

Abra1d Fri 06-Sep-13 09:32:01

Large corporates often want clever people with good analytical skills and people skills and a degree of creativity and curiosity. Those might be as evident in an arts graduate from Bristol as in a business studies graduate from a less highly regarded university.

TBH niceguy I wasn't entirely convinced about that bit - but the bit about enjoying the subject rather than doing it because it might lead to a career had more impact. I think it just depends on the job, which is something you have no idea about when you are actually doing a degree. I'm glad I'm not in the position that my children are in, it is all so hard and there is so much pressure - much easier 20 years ago when you could actually get pretty good jobs without degrees and weren't looked down upon because you didn't have one.

When I was back on the job market 2 years ago, quite a few companies wouldn't take me because I didn't have a degree (I was looking for admin type work), and seemed happy to ignore 20 years of office based experience. It seems very short sighted, but not something that I had any influence over and is so frustrating.

DreadLock Fri 06-Sep-13 09:38:51

Oh glad to see this thread is still rolling, am learning so much just from reading all the different points of view.

HeyJudith Fri 06-Sep-13 09:38:58

If a teenager isn't sure what to do, business degrees are well thought of in most commerical companies and provide a good all-round platform from which to specialise career.

mirry2 Fri 06-Sep-13 09:43:26

You will never go wrong with a First class classification from a reasonable university, no matter what subject.

lainiekazan Fri 06-Sep-13 09:52:40

I'm a bit hmm at the poster who says she shortlists applicants based on their class of degree rather than the institution.

So, a 1st from Southampton Solent (as it seems to be agreed that that institution is not too hallowed!) would trump a 2.1 from Bristol? Really?

If I were recruiting (last done 15 years ago blush ) I would go on institution + subject which surely is just common sense. Clearly it would be more difficult to get to do History at a top ten university than at some place founded three weeks ago with entrance requirements of a beginners swimming certificate. (Disclaimer: if I were recruiting for a golf course manager then of course relevant vocational degree would be more than acceptable.)

Furthermore I wasn't interested in Gap Yahs. In fact orphanage building was a turn-off. When people started droning on about "travelling" I cut them off at the pass with, "Right. You like holidays. Me too." [mean face]

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 10:04:35

carpevinum- you can see the empployment stats for that course here http://unistats.direct.gov.uk/subjects/employment/10006022-BCGDF

65% of graduates are in work after finishing, of which 40% in a ICT job- so only 26% (40% of 65%) of graduates get a job in the field he is after. I think you can do better for that kind of money.

You can search all similar courses and rank them by employment or further study six months after graduation, here


(probably it wont have saved my example search but you will be able to work it out...)

MoominMammasHandbag Fri 06-Sep-13 10:05:15

This is interesting. DS is doing geography at a Russell Group University. Would love to map the Antarctic or something but accepts he may well end up being a geography teacher. But could he in fact do law or accountancy or some general business graduate traineeship then? DH and I did very vocational degrees so I'm not really clued up on this.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 06-Sep-13 10:07:18

slev - things may have changed nowadays, and also I've no idea if the people accepted to train as accountants with low first degrees (a) made it through training or (b) found good jobs at the end.

It just didn't make sense to me then that people would spend 3 years doing something they either weren't all that good at and/or weren't willing to put the effort in to get a good result. It makes even less sense now they have to pay for it. (and the taxpayer still has to stump up quite a lot for lab based courses)

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 10:11:25

Moomin _ yes, of course he can. He can take a law conversion course and become either a solicitor or a barrister (slightly different routes through and barrister tends to be more expensive and less likelihood of a job). Or he can join any one of a number of accountancy firms as a graduate trainee.

I did the latter myself (first from Oxford, just to redress the comment about low entry standards..) and as my degree was modern languages, I found the combination really saleable. People are interested in modern langauge graduates but it is much better if you have something you can do in that language apart from make lovely conversation.

tell him to go to his Uni careers service and engage with the milk round.

wordfactory Fri 06-Sep-13 10:12:11

moomin any degrees can be converted to law. You just have to spend two years in law school rather than one.

The main downsides are;

1. Bloody expensive way to do it. Though some of the large law firms help with fees.

2. Booooooring. Law school is like living death. Two years would be like Dantes thrid circle.

3. Not all those who convert find jobs easily. Some degrees say 'analytical thinker' more clearly than others.

specialsubject Fri 06-Sep-13 10:21:22

I would second the comment about 'travelling', which often means 'long holiday getting drunk far away, but spent most of the days in the hostel watching TV, on the internet and sleeping'.

go on a long holiday by all means, but don't expect any employer to do anything except laugh.

kerala Fri 06-Sep-13 10:22:14

There is snobbery too sadly. I worked in a magic circle law firm and had an excellent paralegal so I lobbied the firm to give her a training contract she had proved herself to be better than most of the trainees. Noses were turned up though because although she had a 2.1 it was in American studies which I know to be a rigorous proper degree the partners saw it as inferior. If she had done history at same university she would have got the job.

kerala Fri 06-Sep-13 10:24:06

Or do law joint with a fun subject but take core topics to get your exemptions that's how I got round it

Contrarian78 Fri 06-Sep-13 10:41:46

The starting point should be: Does this degree represent value? (value being the interplay between price and quality). It's still the case (though students would contend otherwise) that University education in this country is subsidised to such an extent that there is a disconnect between what employers want and what undergraduates want. Accordingly Universities pitch to the undergraduate, which does everyone a dis-service. Too many people use University as a rite of passage - as a way of flying the next only to have to return to it when they realise that nobody wants to pay them for the useless degree they've done

I'd discourage my children from doing anything that wasn't:
A) From a decent University; and/or
B) Allied to a deifinte career choice

Ths whole notion that 50% of people should go to University (I'm not sure it's still govt. policy) is a nonsense.

Chunderella Fri 06-Sep-13 10:47:15

It never was, actually. It was that 50% should have a higher education qualification, which obviously includes HNDs, HNCs and of course Open University degrees.

Contrarian78 Fri 06-Sep-13 10:55:55

I stand corrected.

For what it's worth, I'd usually always employ somebody with an OU degree over anyone else. That should be the de facto route for a lot more people.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 06-Sep-13 10:58:42

Slev You can become an ACA (or rather, get accepted as a trainee) with just A levels. But then you will be made to do AAT first. And how many people who take that route end up on partner or director track? There are always exceptions that prove the rule. But not many up to now, for sure. The same with people with ordinaries - yes, they might get accepted as trainees somewhere that needs lots of fodder, but they might be forced to do AAT first and then the likelihood of them actually qualifying at the end might not be high. That having said though, there are now schemes being run by some of the big 4 - maybe all of them - where people sign their lives away at 18, start work straight away but as part of a sandwich degree at one of two or three RG universities (and the universities involved are properly good ones. Not ones you're always surprised to be reminded are RG). The upside? Fees paid. Earning. You get a degree and a professional qualification at the end of it. The downside? 18 is a bit early to sign your life away. You end up with an accountancy degree. This may still hamper your chances of career progression later on (very people at the top of the profession have accountancy degrees).

Outdoor leadership degrees aren't to be snurked at if you go into the work it intends you to go into. I know loads who have done it and now all work in outdoor instructing and various other outdoor-based jobs because that's what they are passionate about and that degree will get you loads of instructing qualifications, which are very expensive and some very difficult to get (such as the Lead Climbing or Mountain Instructor Awards).

Just like any degree that is that specialised or 'pointless' in other industries, you need to be really interested and actually go into that field.

Though there are truly pointless degrees which make me wonder why people go into them hmm

OP, there is no point in your son doing a degree if he isn't sure about it. I went to uni at 18 and dropped out after three months, I regret doing it and wish that I'd waited as I had no clue what I wanted to do apart from "work with kids" and ended up in a degree designed to end in doing a PGCE, which I didn't want to do. DP worked for four years and went into it knowing he wanted to do engineering as a career though four years ago his choice of degree would have been completely different.

My sister started a photography/journalism degree. Dropped the journalism after first year and left with a BA in Photography a year or so ago. She's now an estate agent. Completely pointless for her but having a degree alone makes her stand out in a town where it's extremely difficult to get work which is why she finished it.

thegreylady Fri 06-Sep-13 10:59:50

Another example from my family my stepson did a Mechanical Engineering degree at Leeds then went on to do Accountancy qualifications and is very successful in that career.

mirry2 Fri 06-Sep-13 11:21:02

Apart from the degree classification, where you go or study isn't always important. Many organisations act like clubs for university alumnis. ~So if your interviewer went to the same university as you, whether Southampton Solent or Oxford) or did a similar degree to yours, IMO you will be in with a chance. I have worked in places where half the 10 person team had got their degree from the same place.

jollydiane Fri 06-Sep-13 11:31:55

If there could be a degree in common sense that would be most welcome. Being able to demonstrate that you can work as team, have curiosity, and are a problem solver are key attributes to have in a new employee.

lainiekazan Fri 06-Sep-13 11:41:37

That's true, mirry.

I have encountered people who are anti-Oxbridge because of a chip on their shoulder (they didn't get in, being a prime reason!). Or, I suppose, it's something to talk about at interview and potentially bond if you went to the same institution, wherever it was.

A hedge fund manager I know only picks guys (and it is guys) from his old Cambridge college. Make of that what you will.

changeling1234 Fri 06-Sep-13 12:24:35

Can't imagine what kind of job you'd be looking for with this degree.

FCEK Fri 06-Sep-13 12:24:44

Google "what do graduates do"

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 06-Sep-13 12:32:07

changeling Run a dance company? Run a mixed performing arts group? Go into Arts administration? Just get any old HR job? There's plenty of jobs you could do with that degree.

wordfactory Fri 06-Sep-13 12:34:10

Hey Russians!

Is your DD okay? Were the results okay?

Lazyjaney Fri 06-Sep-13 12:48:20

The way it was explained to me is that the less relevant a degree is, the better the University you do it at has to be.

Those bankers who did English or history are not there due to their degree subjects, but because they were at top 10 Unis

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 06-Sep-13 12:49:48

DD went to visit a solicitor's office: the older solicitor said definitely do a straight degree and then a conversion course and the younger ones said, nah, just do law. I suspect more and more will be going down that route.

(Although the main thing she got from it was a visit to the magistrate's court which sounds as though it was basically the Jeremy Kyle show in a municipal building and convinced her, as such, that that was what she wanted to do!)

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 06-Sep-13 12:52:44

word She did really well. smile

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 06-Sep-13 12:54:33

I'm glad Russians - I sort of wanted to ask but I remembered from the GCSE anxiety thread that you were preparing for the worst and kept backing off! grin

(but you wouldn't want to make a big fuss like when she got her Brownie wings, right?)

wordfactory Fri 06-Sep-13 12:54:58

Nit I think young people may want to reduce their debts as much as possible. So straight law seems like a good choice.

Plus five years of study is loooooong.

DH really really favours straight law degrees over anyhting else. He has a bee in his bonnet that it gives a much better grounding than the two years at law school can ever do.

But I don't think his colleagues necessarily think the same thing!

VenusRising Fri 06-Sep-13 12:55:39

Whatever you study it's better to get a first or at least a 2.1, so your subject should be something you have an interest in, and something you're good at! It's quite simple really, a s you'll work hard if you're interested, and you won't bother if its boring you.

If you're any way half assed about studying anything, it's best you work for a few years, and see where your passions lie, and after that do a degree in what you're interested in.

Just going to uni for the sake of going "like everyone else" is a total waste of time imvho!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 06-Sep-13 12:56:12

Yes, I think that was exactly their reasoning! I have a cousin who did it one way and his brother the other (if that makes sense) - I know which their parents favour!

wordfactory Fri 06-Sep-13 12:56:27

Oh Russians I am pleased.

I know it was a very difficult run up to the exams and you were worried. What a relief for you all.

Sixth form!!!!! shock

SlowlorisIncognito Fri 06-Sep-13 12:58:50

I think it's hard to second guess graduate recruiters as they often have different priorities. Some will definately prefer certain degrees and institutions, maybe through snobbery, or because they have had good employees from that route in the past. A lot of graduate schemes and masters degrees seem to now have a "hard" filter of 2.1 or more (often refered to as a "good degree"). Whilst any classification of degree was "good enough" in the past, an ordinary degree or a third from the vast majority of universities won't usually get you very far. Others place a lot more value on work experience than the nature of your degree.

The most important thing is to chose something you're really interested in and comitted to. At 18, my sixth form teachers insisted I needed to apply, even though I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do. I got a place to study Psychology at a fairly decent university, but dropped out after six months. I then worked for a while, and decided to go back to university to study Animal Behaviour and Welfare. I want to work for an animal charity or possibly in conservation, and whilst it's not a traditional "well regarded degree" and I'm doing it at a mid-table university, it will lead to the career I want.

Whilst at university, I've done some part time work in the admissions office, and the admissions tutors all say they want students passionate about the courses as they are much less likely to drop out, and more likely to get good degrees and go on to good careers (which looks better for the university). This means most admissions tutors (especially those at higher ranked universities) expect to see evidence of extra reading, and where possible, relevant extra curicular activities. If your DS is going into Y13, and has none of this, he will be a weaker applicant, and he could use some of his gap year to strengthen his personal statement.

I'm not an employer, and went to a pretty low-rated ex-poly Uni because at 18 I'd never heard of RG and I just liked the course modules and efficiency of my University. But it strikes me as odd that the University itself might be more important than the degree classification or subject.

My reasoning for going to a low-ranked University, even though I could've probably got into a similar course in several RG Universities based on my A-Level results, was that a degree is surely a standardised qualification. At the 'better' universities you are probably getting better teaching, from tutors and lecturers who are more active in higher-level research and better regarded in their field - but essentially, if you get a 2:1, regardless of the teaching and facilities you have access to, it's all pretty much the same thing?

I obviously know now that this isn't perceived as the case, but I still don't really understand why. I list my A-levels and results on my CV; employers can see that I could've gone to another university if I'd wanted. They don't know my reasons for choosing that one - I might've had commitments looking after an elderly relative in that area, I might've particularly wanted to study the specific modules on that course, I might've chosen it because it was in the centre of a large city and I had more chance of getting part-time work to fund my studies. So why would I be seen as a lesser candidate than someone who had done the same degree but got a 2:2 from Bath or Warwick?

As it happens I got straight into a job in the highly-competitive field I wanted to be in (unrelated to my degree), progressed quickly and am now an award-winning professional in my field (not-so-stealth boast - I'm still poor though!) so it's largely irrelevant to me really. But I want to know why I should advise my DCs to do it differently?

slev Fri 06-Sep-13 13:00:13

The way it was explained to me is that the less relevant a degree is, the better the University you do it at has to be. Those bankers who did English or history are not there due to their degree subjects, but because they were at top 10 Unis

This. With bells on. To use the example quoted previously, I'd take a lower class degree from a RG university over a First from Southampton Solent (if we're sticking with that as our example). And I have done when recruiting at a junior level (after a while I'm more intersted in experience).

And to clarify my point on accountancy. Yes, you can do a numerate degree which will get you some exemptions from your professional exams. But you don't have to. Not one person in my team of 5 did anything business or accountancy based at uni, and yet we work in senior positions for a FTSE 100 company and don't seem to be doing too badly - it just adds a year on to the time it takes to qualify which really isn't that much in the grand scheme of things. So yes moomin, tell your son to get down to the careers office and have a chat with them - there will be plenty of graduate employers who are just looking for a good degree class from a decent uni and as long as he can articulate why he wants to do something different, it won't matter one bit.

wordfactory Fri 06-Sep-13 13:01:46

I think both options have pros and cons.

Law is a tough degree, particularly in terms of the hours. You look at your mates studying Geography or French and sigh. Then again it's a picnic compared to the medics grin.

I'm glad I did it. As a discipline it really does hone your thinking skills and you become every good at assimilating lots of eveidence very quickly...but sometimes I do think three years reading literature would have been a dream come true.

slev Fri 06-Sep-13 13:03:41

x-post Mackerel. Because (and I'm not saying I'm right), my assumption is that the grade requirements to get in to the ex-poly unis are lower, yet they still award a certain % of their students first class degrees. Therefore, the level required to get a first class degree must be lower as the ability of the intake must be lower yet the outputs as the same.

Massive sweeping arrogance, I'm fully aware of this, but you did ask...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 06-Sep-13 13:04:15

I have a hunch that dd latched onto law at 13 when it seemed a) distant and b) like a lot of fun arguing for a living, but might be going to change her mind in the next year.

Oblomov Fri 06-Sep-13 13:08:17

I never had any career advice.
But I quite enjoyed doing to Birkman test etc.

wordfactory Fri 06-Sep-13 13:12:16

Mackeral all things being equal, I would always advise students to go to the most selective universities.

Employers do regard them more highly.

And to some extent I think it's fair they do. The calibre of student will be higher. Obviously there will be notable exceptions (such as yourself), but generally the truth holds.

A higher calibre of student, means a higher quality of learning because the collegiate environment of most courses is affected. Put simply, put a lot a clever people in a room and the level of discussion will be more challenging.

I teach at two universities. One highly selective, one less so. Whilst there are able students are the later, the difference in intellect is marked. As is the work rate.

Also, the most selective universities attract a lot of good staff. Again there will be exceptions, but you get my drift.

I think the main caveat to this, is when a less selective university is very well known and regarded for a specific course. People in the industry will know this!

MoutardeDeDijon Fri 06-Sep-13 13:14:29

But slev, your assumptions are wrong for two reasons. Firstly, A level grades have never been a good predictor of degree classification. Second, 'better' universities tend to award a much higher proportion of firsts and 2(i)s. Oxbridge tend to give these good degrees to about 98% of students, whereas the proportion in mid-ranking institutions will be lower than 75%. There is a certain degree of standardization - academics externally moderate degrees from other institutions to ensure that there is some equivalence of quality.

Thanks, slev, that does make sense. I never realised that universities awarded classifications to particular %s of students. I just thought it was a grade boundary thing - I think it was an overall mark of 70% for a 1st, 60-70% for a 2nd - but maybe that was correspondingly low for the intake/institution.

Thanks for clarifying though. smile

wordfactory Fri 06-Sep-13 13:16:28

A quick caveat to my last post.

When I say that students should apply to the most selective universities, I mean ones that they like the look of!

No one need be a slave to this.

MoutardeDeDijon Fri 06-Sep-13 13:17:43

MackerelOfFact universities do not award classifications to a % of candidates. Classification is dependent upon reaching a particular standard.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 13:17:50

Mackerel, I would be very canny on what Uni you advise your DD to go for. On the whole, what you did can be a dangerous way to go, especially today with such an oversupply of graduates.

As a graduate she will need a brand. She either gets it from having gone to a fairly short list of highly trusted Unis, or she gets it from a specific course well regarded in the specific industry.

I'm sorry to say that 2:1s are not seen as equal across the board; there are some quite troubling statistics out there about levels of 2:1s awarded and grade inflation in some Unis. There is no way that degrees are standardised, I'm afraid. In fact, its the opposite- the sector is supposed to be as varied as possible, and offer all kinds of degrees from highly academic to very practical. There is thing called "parity of esteem" which means that we are not meant to express a view about which kind of education is intrinsically "better" - but standardised? definitely not.

Employers will buy a respected vocationally focussed course with a good reputation and good employer links. But a traditional non-vocational subject from the same Uni? that could offer the worst of both worlds, to be honest.

For your DD- making a quirky choice and hoping that employers will deduce from her A levels that she could have made a safer, more traditionally prestigious choice- there are two downsides to that. The main one is, she will get the teaching she gets where she actually goes; if she doesnt actually go to the safer RG Uni, she wont get the education they deliver, and her degree result wont be done according to their rules. Thats what employers are buying into- what happens post A level. The other is, employers are too busy.

MoutardeDeDijon this is what I originally thought. So why does the university make a difference?

WallaceWindsock Fri 06-Sep-13 13:19:45

Agree its the uni not the degree. DP did Ancient History at Exetet. He walked straight into a position with one of the top 4 accountancy firms and will leave there in 2 years time as fully qualified and with a starting salary elsewhere of £40,000. The interview process was long and he was only asked about the uni with one brief question about the degree subject itself.

MoutardeDeDijon Fri 06-Sep-13 13:22:14

beastofburden I agree that there are huge differences in the way that different institutions are viewed, and that it would be silly not to take that into account when choosing a university, but it is not true to say that there is no standardization. All degree programmes will be moderated by external examiners who i) work in a different institution in the same or a related field, and ii) have extensive teaching experience and are familiar with a range of institutions.

Oblomov Fri 06-Sep-13 13:22:33

I often think that parents can really help, by mainly looking at what the child is like. Rather than trying to figure out what 'career' they need.
I met a engineer, who was now doing a sips qualification, last week.
People often don't stay in the same job or industry, or career. So for our children, surely that will just get worse?

Not all children are gregarious and love the challenge and the fight, to make to ceo, or alan sugar's team.
Many people are bright, but not that bright. plodders, who just want a nice job.
Not all people are actually very good managers.
How driven are you? Do you actually perform under stress. Or would you be better doing something more techy, where your personel skills were not tested all the time.

I know that I am going to have to guide ds1 ( who is only at primary) and help him , by assisting him, because he is going to find this bit very hard.
As many of us do.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 13:22:35

mackeral- because its the University that decides what the standard is. The regulator does some quality assurance, but at no point do they even try to make sure that a 2:1 from Southampton Solent and a 2:1 from Oxford are at the same standard.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 13:23:13

yes, but externals are there to make sure that the Uni applies its own rules, not to make sure that the degree follows the rules from their home Uni.

MoutardeDeDijon Fri 06-Sep-13 13:27:08

Mackerel the difference in perception is partly due to snobbery, but that is not the whole picture.
I used to teach in a very good department in an RG university. I now work in a fairly good department in a mid-table uni. The students we get are not as bright as the ones I used to teach. Most of the difference, however, is due to their expectations of themselves and their motivation. The best students I have now are as good as the best at the old place.
It is a complex situation, but students at good unis tend to expect to achieve and tend to be quite confident in their ability. This makes a huge difference.

MoutardeDeDijon Fri 06-Sep-13 13:29:07

beast part of the job of the external is to make sure that rules are followed, but they are also there to ensure standards. I am an external examiner, and I am asked to comment on whether standards are consistent with other HEIs I know, just as the external at my department do.

andadietcoke Fri 06-Sep-13 13:31:55

I have a first degree in European Studies and Modern Languages (pointless) and a Masters in Business Administration which I see as almost vocational because I think the topics covered would be related to pretty much any job you could do to some degree - such a wide breadth of subject matter, from psychology to finance, and I think it's genuinely useful to any career.

bruffin Fri 06-Sep-13 13:34:42

A friends DS got a 1.2 from non RG but 1994 university. He applied to a City firm for a job, spent hours on the online application. Got a phone interview which went on for half an hour until he was suddenly asked which university he went to. He told them and the interviewer said

"sorry we are going to have to terminate the interview now" shock

Within a few months that university moved to the RG.

Another friends DD has a first in business studies. She again got to the phone interview stage when suddenly asked what her A level results were. She told them A B C, they then terminated the interview as they said they only took ABB, her degree seemed less important than her . Their loss, she got another job and after a year or so she has been headhunted for a major advertising account.
But you do wonder what some HR departments are up to and why they are wasting applicants time. Those online applications take hours to fill in.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 13:50:55

Moutard, I know- but that system doesnt go so far as to standardise Southampton Solent to Cambridge, does it? not really?

MoutardeDeDijon Fri 06-Sep-13 13:56:37

beast, no I suppose it is fair to say that I would expect someone with a 2(ii) from Cambridge to be more able than someone with a 2(ii) from Southampton Solent. I would also worry that the person with a 2(ii) from Cambridge was a bit of a waster, to have managed to do worse than almost all of their peers despite their proven ability.
As I mentioned upthread, I used to teach at an RG, I now teach a mid ranking pre-92. I am external for a bottom of the table ex-poly. Broadly speaking, the quality of work required for a first is not much different in the three places. The type of student that attends each is very different.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 14:01:18

Moutard, interesting. And I agree about 2:2s from Cambridge!

I was interested to see that report recently on workloads. Oxbridge was around double the hours of other places, but outside that sector, there were some very interesting and unexpected places where very little work or contact time seemed to be on offer. Anecdotally I have firends whose kids have been disappointed with the contact time they have got at some big name places. Theres a fair bit of resting on laurels going on out there.

I think the amount of yer actual work is a big factor and one that people often dont know enough about when they are making their choice.

My uni is a 1994 group uni (shock Moutard about that interview) and for my subject there are only 8 hours of contact time a week. However, students are expected to put in 30+ hours of additional time every week in order to learn their subject.

IMO contact hours is a bit of a red herring and depends largely on the subject being studied. Is it more valuable for a student to be spoon-fed information for 40 hours a week, then regurgitate the information at exam time. Or is it better that they are guided by their lecturers and tutors and spend time on their own reading?

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 14:16:31

yes, agree- the report wasnt only about contact hours. It also looked at how many hours were (a) expected and (b) done independently. And as you say, many 1994 Unis were requiring and getting more work from students than some RG Unis.

Talkinpeace Fri 06-Sep-13 14:16:51

In my day (before the Russell group had been invented) when 5% of the population went to Uni

really bright people got 1st class degrees : about 1 in 10 of the class
bright hardworking people got 2:1 degrees : about 1/3 of the class
a 2:2 was a drinking man's degree : about half of the class
a 3rd was a smoking man's degree : about 1 in 10
and the remainder got a non honours degree

I have friends who work at Solent (or the Institute as was) - they are lovely but admit that it needs to shrink A LOT

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 14:18:18

lol- agree, in my year it was 8% firsts in my subject. Not any more....

lainiekazan Fri 06-Sep-13 14:20:38

Years ago I visited a friend at a poly who was doing the same course as me at a (RG - term didn't exist at the time) university. I went to one of her lectures. I shall just say that the depth and complexity of hers compared to my lectures was... different.

I can't honestly believe Mackerel thinks that an English degree from Cambridge is no better than one from... Southampton Solent and that an applicant would say to themselves, "Hmm, I like that module at SS so much I'll go there instead of Bristol." Duh!

[Can you imagine the outrage of the PR dept or whatever they have at Southampton Solent if they become aware of this thread?!]

lainiekazan Fri 06-Sep-13 14:24:27

Actually I've just perused the Southampton Solent prospectus. What a lot of fun courses! I think I'll do 3 years full time Popular Music Performance. I wonder if there's an age restriction...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 06-Sep-13 14:25:14

Externals say things like 'yes, agreed, this definitely reads like a 2:ii to me', so there is some effort to make sure a 2:ii from one place wouldn't be a fail in another.

But still....

(Is Southampton Solent the new short-hand for the worst university you could choose? I thought from sixth form open evenings that Thames Valley had replaced de Montfort as the institution to be uttered only through curled lips....)

Talkinpeace Fri 06-Sep-13 14:25:23

lainie I'm FB friends with one of them .... she'd laugh

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 06-Sep-13 14:26:39

(ps, let us not confuse timetabled contact hours with the amount of work that is expected either of the student or the staff!)

Itsafineline Fri 06-Sep-13 14:26:46

My dd has 1st class honours from a RG uni. On graduation, after some general work experience, she applied for admin jobs at universities. She applied to 4 RGs and 4 ex-polys. She was interviewed by all the RGs and none of the ex-polys. She now works in an RG uni. You might say - what worth 1st class honours from a RG university? (I did, as it happens)
Anyway - I popped by to say that I am very suspicious of degrees with the word 'studies' in the title. This often means that the university realises that a particular sector is popular with students, and will attract high applications. But they haven't actually got any partnership with the employing sector and the degree doesn't really get you any closer to working in the sector that doing something totally unrelated.

MoutardeDeDijon Fri 06-Sep-13 14:28:03

Yes, in my year in an RG it was 7% firsts. Now in my non-RG it is more like 25%. I suspect that standards are not the same as they once were.
I also think that contact hours are rather misleading. They tend to be high in pure sciences and rather low in humanities. One reason for that is that scientist spend a lot of time in labs doing science stuff, whereas students studying History or English need to spend a lot of time reading books (of course scientists read books, too). A lot of students and parents expect university to be like school with teachers telling them most of what they need to know. In reality, lectures and tutorials are there to introduce students to topics and ideas and orient them towards further reading. Guided independent study is really what a degree is all about, but it gets harder and harder to explain this to people when all sort of bodies from newspapers to government offices are obsessed with publishing largely meaningless statistics and league tables. Everything must be quantified!

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 14:32:59

yes, poor Southampton, t'aint fair, lets find a new shorthand..how about "Slacksville City Uni"

moutarde, the study was also about hours worked independently because of course we agree that it varies by subject, and especially across science/arts split.

I know some Unis where the kids are only asked to do one essay in a term, and the third term is all just a reading term, so no input available even if you want it. Whereas other places the expected output is much higher and so is the available feedback.

LeGavrOrf Fri 06-Sep-13 14:35:31

I went to the Southampton Solent graduation ceremony, it was rather good fun because Scott Mills (!) was there collecting his honorary degree. grin

I then went out drinking in the student bars. Jesus Christ. I could barely stand.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Fri 06-Sep-13 14:37:27

I would look, actually, for somewhere that has terms, not semesters. May until late September is a bloody long time off.

lainiekazan Fri 06-Sep-13 14:37:40

I don't think Thames Valley even counts. It's full of foreign students pretending to be students whilst working full time in fried chicken bars. It has a massive drop-out rate - I don't think most 'students' ever intended to attend.

Actually I know two de Montfort (or Leicester Poly) people who now have very whizzy jobs. Just shows...

LeGavrOrf Fri 06-Sep-13 14:39:09

Funnily enough I have had a conversation with dd today. She has for a couple of years said that she doesn't want to go to university and wants to join the army or police force at 18.

She has now changed her mind and wants to study Criminology at the local university (Gloucestershire). That's a lot of money for (IMO) a Mickey Mouse degree at a lowly university.

But I don't know what to say without seeming like a complete twat, tbh.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 14:41:45

true Original, but beware the term-that-is-not-a-term, ie the "reading term" where because there are some exams at the end of it, there is no teaching at all. Actually, they sometimes do this even if there are no exams. So you still get May to September off except you have to pay for student accommodation.

At Cambridge, if you have exams from week 7 onwards, your lectures stop at the end of week 4. NatSci have lectures 9-1 every morning including saturday morning in the first year which is harsh shock

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 14:45:25

LeGav- get her to look at the employment statistics for that course.


when she sees that the average salary is £15k and the commonest job on graduation is "Sales assistants and retail cashiers" ... Only 7.5% (10% of the 75% who are wokring) of students report a job in "Protective service occupations" which I guess means police, and 60% of all graduates who are in work are in non-graduate occupations....

mummytime Fri 06-Sep-13 14:45:44

Thames valley University doesn't exist any more does it?

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 14:47:31

mummy, true, its University of West London now.

Which means we could use Thames Valley as our shorthand without offending a live Uni...possibly...

LeGavrOrf Fri 06-Sep-13 14:47:38

Yes, I have seen that. I have been reading about it and it is dismal.

What a waste of time that would be. And all that debt for what?

Plus she would live at home. And I was planning to move out of Gloucestershire in the near future.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 14:49:28

Has she seen it, though? what does she think?

move, that should solve it smile

LeGavrOrf Fri 06-Sep-13 14:57:10

Yes she does know. She is in a pretty sullen mood about it tbh.

I don't want to be unsupportive but I also don't want her to blindly sign up to something for 3 years which is not really worthwhile.

Beastofburden Fri 06-Sep-13 15:04:02

how old is she? do you have much time?

There are other criminology degrees with better prospects. Why does she want to stay local? does she understand that her mates will likely go somewhere else anyway?

Or, if she is still focussed on police, what do they say? I guess if they were prepared to sponsor her through a degree (do they offer that) then it wold be a safer thing to do

pyrrah Fri 06-Sep-13 15:05:23

ImperialBlether - I can assure you it was 1 essay a term (I still have them). I and two others went together to tell them we were leaving at the end of the first year - and why. The only thing the senior tutor did was to try and persuade us to stay because otherwise his funding would be affected (no offers to change the course and that was with over half the students leaving).

I was studying Archaeology and there should have been a decent practical component or lab work... zilch. One of the main tutors had gone on sabbatical and I imagine that may have had a big effect - he was the reason I chose the course in the first place).

It's all very well telling people that they need to study just for the love of it, but it helps to be working towards a firm objective (project/exam/essay).

Talkinpeace Fri 06-Sep-13 16:30:40

My biggest problem with Solent is that people think that it and Southampton University are somehow connected. They have absolutely and utterly nothing to do with each other.

DH was offered a place to Chemistry by Thesis with Harry Kroto : it would have been one research project and no lectures or essays until the big one at the end. That degree no longer exists oddly enough.

"I can't honestly believe Mackerel thinks that an English degree from Cambridge is no better than one from... Southampton Solent and that an applicant would say to themselves, "Hmm, I like that module at SS so much I'll go there instead of Bristol." Duh!"

That's not what I said at all, lainiekazan. When I was 18 I couldn't see what the difference was, and my post was saying that I still wasn't entirely sure why degrees from RG were more highly-regaderd than an equivalent from another university. But I did know they generally weren't!

I just find it all very snobbish and elitist - I didn't have the advice of degree-educated parents or a decent school to rely on when I was 18, so I didn't know any of this stuff. Sometimes it just seems like the whole RG thing is just to point out to potential employers that you come from a middle-class background with the cultural capital at your disposal to help you make the decision to select a RG university. I know that's a really cynical view, and implies that there are no working class students at RG universities (I appreciate there are probably thousands), but I think the onus should be on improving or merging the weaker universities, not just sending every able pupil to the better ones. That just widens the disparity, surely?

Talkinpeace Fri 06-Sep-13 16:52:47

Employers who think that the RG signifies quality in an undergrad degree need to do a LOT more reading about the history of and reason for the RG

mirry2 Fri 06-Sep-13 17:02:12

Mackeral I agree with you. I also agree with Moutard about thee being studnets at different universities that are at a similar level of ability. I have taught at Oxford (University - not Brookes) as well as middle and low ranking universities plus Open University, and the main difference is that there are more of the brightest at Oxford but that many of the students at other universities are as bright and could have aced an Oxford degree.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 06-Sep-13 17:04:30

There are some RG universities that are viewed very favourably by some types of employer. There are some that most definitely are not, despite what MN would have you believe. There are some 1994 group universities which are regarded as highly or better than some - many - RG universities. Despite what MN would have you believe.

Ask yourself this - do people who go to Durham, Cambridge, Imperial, say 'I went to a Russell Group university' or do they name their university (or college)? They do the latter. People who read English at UEA aren't shy about saying where they went and what they read, either. And there are other examples of specific courses at 1994 universities which have as much prestige as any course at an RG jobby.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 06-Sep-13 17:30:00

MoutardeDeDijon I have an engineering degree, and did was a teaching assistant for labs and tutorials in my PhD.

I agree we have a lot of labs compared to the humanities. However, we also have lab time without any supervision. We'll be given projects that required lab facilities to finish. I'm not sure if the latter is counted as contact hours. But I agree most universities expect students to be motivated and study outside of lectures, labs and tutorials.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 06-Sep-13 17:31:06

But we did feel us engineers were always working compared to the arts students grin.

onelittle "But we did feel us engineers were always working compared to the arts students"

That reminds me of my boss last year. DP quit his job (stress, lots of course-related stuff that was being rushed in order to work, etc) and three months later got one that was better and vaguely related to engineering.

When my boss found out he said that he was glad as he thought that DP was shirking his responsibilities to earn money as when he was at university he held down a job and attended uni perfectly fine.

I didn't bother pointing out to him that he had been an art student attending lectures for no more than 6 hours a week at any point whilst at uni whilst at the time DP was in uni for 20+ hours a week and doing nearly the same at home. I wish that I had said something!

78bunion Fri 06-Sep-13 19:02:30

Mack, they are better because it is harder to get in (that is one reason). If you are at place where most people could not get in and demands AAA then it is going to better. If you go somewhere you can get a place with CCC and is dead easy to get into it is not going to be as good. It's pretty simple really. The harder it is to get into the more likely it will be well regarded by employers. It is all about being clever and of course that is elitist, just as we do not want surgeons with IQs of 80. It is very important the best universities are very selective and reject loads of people. It is brilliant that they do so.

ChazzerChaser Fri 06-Sep-13 19:19:45

You'll get people with AAA not people who are necessarily more intelligent or more able to achieve well or more suited to demanding jobs. You'll get people who went to the 'right' schools, had 'right' upbringing, conformed in just the right way to do well at exams. Not every one of course but a high proportion of them. It wasn't hard for them to get in, their background meant they'd had 18 years of support getting them there. I agree it's about class and snobbery. I have a good academic degree from a RG. I work at a good ex poly. A lot of my students worked phenomenally hard to be there, against the odds, and with a different background would easily have been the AAAs. Some of them have won dissertation prizes open nationally so it can't just be my bias.

mirry2 Fri 06-Sep-13 20:09:39

I've always wondered about the general antagonism amongst mumsnetters towards selective schools yet everyone is desperate to get their child into the most selective university.

Kernowgal Fri 06-Sep-13 20:16:08

Don't write off degrees taught at FE colleges. I have one, and although the teaching quality was patchy (and you need to do your research on this front), it suited those looking for a vocational degree with plenty of theoretical study, and is tailored to the industry through working with companies and finding out what they require from their staff. It included a business studies module that was very useful.

I also have a 2:1 from a RG uni, which got me my first job and enabled me to move up in my previous career. It probably also helped me get my current job at the top organisation in my industry, though they would have seen the vocational degree as more relevant.

If I was doing my A-levels now, I would seriously consider whether it was worth going to uni if I wasn't absolutely sure of what I wanted to do. Back then when degrees were free I had the luxury of being able to do something I enjoyed, though I still came out some £12k in debt, mainly because I helped keep the local nightclubs running wink

A gap year, or a year working, is a very very good idea. 17-18 is too young to be choosing something so important (imvho).

superstarheartbreaker Fri 06-Sep-13 20:47:28

I have a degree in English literature and a PGCE in English with Drama. Wish I'd done Medicine or law tbh.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 06-Sep-13 21:27:09

>I've always wondered about the general antagonism amongst mumsnetters towards selective schools yet everyone is desperate to get their child into the most selective university.

(my DD is at a GS so I'm not against selectives) But I think that the main objection, to selective schools is that its too black and white a choice at too early an age. This is a very valid reason which doesn't apply in the same way to university.

Littleen Fri 06-Sep-13 21:28:37

I think it's very much dependent on what you wish to do in the future. I have a degree that will get me the career that I want, even if it's not at the best uni. Now, I have heard many comments in the past about English degrees being uneccessary, but I think they could be useful for example a journalist etc. I have seen a degree course called "cruiseliner" or something. Useless for most people, but if you want to spend your life working on a cruise then gopher it smile It depends what you do with the degree chosen, whether it is worth it or not.

catham Fri 06-Sep-13 21:36:13

according to some comments on this thread my degree (graduating next month) would be 'pointless' as it's: not in a traditional subject; not from a russel group university; first two years were undertaken at a regional college shock

yet it has enabled me to start and maintain my own business albeit as a part time concern at the moment but lots of people use and value it and it has backing from national organisations.

MN really isn't a great judge of how the real world works imo.

Littleen Fri 06-Sep-13 21:36:20

Seems to be something against southampton solent uni on here - I went there and whilst the quality of teaching certainly was not up to scratch, I achieved a useful degree and we did have tons of work to do to get good grades. Going to my graduation ceremony in a few months!

I have also gone to Uni of Essex where it was much better quality of teaching, but the same amount of work required. At a small private uni abroad, I quit after 4 months because the teaching was so rubbish. Have also done courses at Kingston Uni, and about to start one at Oxford Uni, so I can surely say I have had my fair share of university experiences :P

I still think it depends on your ability to learn independently, as some unis will hold your hand through it, and some will not. Work hard and get where you want, is what you need to tell your kiddo.

TheBigJessie Fri 06-Sep-13 21:53:56

TOSN I thought from sixth form open evenings that Thames Valley had replaced de Montfort as the institution to be uttered only through curled lips....

People like to ostentatiously sneer a lot at a place called London Metropolitan these days, but I don't actually know whether that's based on any evidence.

Littleen Fri 06-Sep-13 22:06:43

that's true thebigjessie - I went for interviews and stuff at London Met, but my gut feeling was really bad for that uni so decided against it. No idea why though, but they haven't got a great rep when it comes to foreign students (which I am).

MagratGarlik Fri 06-Sep-13 22:12:44

For those who think that a RG university degree is the be-all-and-end-all and an ex-poly degree is 'useless', can I point out that the current VC of University of Nottingham got his degree from Leicester Poly. It seems to have set him in pretty good stead, I'd say.

Wuldric Fri 06-Sep-13 22:16:20

My firm recruits a substantial number of graduates. We do not discriminate on degree subjects at all - not at all. We do discriminate on the following three grounds

1. Choice of university. We do not recruit from former polys. We only really recruit from RG universities.

2. Degree class. We make conditional offers based on final degree grades. We only make offers to people expecting a 1st or a 2:1. If applicants do not achieve their predicted results, it's a toss up. We'd probably reject most of the time.

3. A level results - we generally do not recruit people with poor A levels. They just would not get through the initial (computer) screening. We would look for AAB or better. We could probably live with ABB. Nothing worse than that.

So you can do Anglo Saxon Norse and Celtic - a more useless degree cannot be imagined. But providing you went to a good university and had a history of good results - you'd be fine.

catham Fri 06-Sep-13 22:19:54

what sort of industry do you work for wul?

stemstitch Fri 06-Sep-13 22:29:25

wuldric's criteria hold for law, definitely commercial law

Littleen Fri 06-Sep-13 22:39:26

am I the only one who finds it worrying that you can do any degree and work in law? Surely you would want someone who actually are qualified to do those jobs, or is it some sort of generic office rat job that comes under "law". I suppose I think of solicitors/lawyers, surely you can't do that without relevant education? O.o

stemstitch Fri 06-Sep-13 22:44:51

You do the law conversion course after your degree - it takes a year and you learn the core areas of law. But if you're a specialist you will learn most of what you need to know when you're a trainee, not on the conversion course

ErrolTheDragon Fri 06-Sep-13 22:47:22

They do law qualifications after the other degree.
Maybe it would be good if more lawyers did first degrees in sciences - seems like you'd need to to understand a lot of evidence properly nowadays, not to mention statistics.

Wuldric Fri 06-Sep-13 22:48:40

<bows to stemstitch>

London Met has the largest science laboratory in Europe, apparently. It's a 'super-laboratory'. I've been in it, it was awesome! They are also the best Uni in the country for Dietetics. But they're one of the worst-ranked unis in the league tables, so go figure.

Wuldric Fri 06-Sep-13 23:06:41

I think the firm would curl up and die of apoplexy if someone from Southampton Solent were to be employed there. Or London Met, whatever that is (a police force???). Unless of course the employees in question worked as PAs, Receptionists, in Facilities or as Doormen. Like nightclubs, we do have Doormen. And like all nightclubs, the Doormen are big and black. Frankly, it is just about the only chance of someone black being employed in our gaff.

<old, cynical and embittered. Is there an emoticon for that?>

TheHoneyHunt Fri 06-Sep-13 23:11:37

Try looking on Unistats. It's a government run website with stats on employment rates, salaries, course satsifaction, etc. etc.

But basically the answer is it's the uni and the course which matters. For employability the highest scoring courses are medicine and medical related (e.g psychology), law, education, biological sciences, maths, and engineering. Bringing up the next tier are subjects like languages, history, architecture and business/management.

It's also worth checking out the university facilities carefully, particularly the accommodation. This can vary a lot and different styles of university suit different people. If your DS is going to have a miserable time, then it probably isn't worth the money....

cafecito Fri 06-Sep-13 23:13:25

having studied medicine and law.. I can safely say I wish I had studied a general BA or BSc at undergrad at a top uni, for me languages as I loved it and had natural aptitude, done really well, and then done a graduate conversion course. I advise anyone considering a career in law to choose this route.

stemstitch Fri 06-Sep-13 23:16:32

MC, Wuldric?

The thing is, a university can be very good for a particular subject, and if you were to go into that field then it would probably be recognised. But if you are just applying to a generic 'big company', want to be a lawyer or a management consultant or a banker, then they look at the 'name' of the uni and your degree class.

By default, this means that only certain degree subjects will be acceptable, as RG unis don't tend to do stuff like 'Hospitality Management'. However, my old uni, which is RG, does do things like Drama and Communication Studies. In this case, employers would probably prefer a traditional subject like History or Classics.

Law firms do like science degrees, can be v useful for intellectual property work and the like. But most lawyers are arts/humanities graduates.

Wuldric Fri 06-Sep-13 23:22:49

Please do not tell me that there is a degree in a subject called Hospitality Management. Any institutions offering such a degree should be instantly barred from granting degrees.

I am shocked. Truly shocked.

stemstitch Fri 06-Sep-13 23:30:08

The Universities of Surrey and Bournemouth offer it, according to Google. International Hospitality Management BSc. It is a science, apparently.

Hogwash Fri 06-Sep-13 23:39:52

Talkinpeace it's true that people confuse Southampton Uni and Southampton Solent. I went to Southampton Uni but someone asked me a while back if it was S'oton Solent.

Youvecattobekittenme - yes I think the one in the centre is Southampton Solent - I think it is the one that also did yacht design etc.

Mumzy Fri 06-Sep-13 23:44:43

Brighton uni offer a degree in event management (BA). What on earth do you do a dissertation in?

mirry2 Fri 06-Sep-13 23:45:06

A lot of ex students (and their parents) refer to Solent as Southampton (because it's called Southampton Solent) and it's very (deliberately?) misleading.

mirry2 Fri 06-Sep-13 23:48:26

I don't know anything about an events management degree but I'm sure I could work up a really respectable dissertation proposal incorporating management or organisational theory. In other words I think there probably very worthwhile underpinnings to these degrees but the titles let them down

nooka Sat 07-Sep-13 01:18:40

I took a number of professional courses at London Met as it was one of the few places I could do Corporate Secretaryship (a well paid professional role) in London. I thought it very well taught. I wouldn't choose to do an undergraduate degree in London at all though.

nooka Sat 07-Sep-13 01:19:35

Many degrees don't do dissertations in any case. It was optional on my course and dh didn't do one at all. We both had them for our masters though.

exoticfruits Sat 07-Sep-13 07:40:49

I am not sure why Southampton Solent is the one singled out- it isn't even bottom of the league table. It is like anything, the student really needs to do their research on their particular subject and find the best place. Southampton Solent yacht design course has produced some of the most successful and influential designers in the industry. Obviously it is a niche, but if someone wants a career to do with sailing they don't want to be put off because it has a poor reputation for other subjects.
The student needs to work out what they want to do, do all their research, visit, see the facilities, ask the questions and decide.
I wouldn't recommend just opting for a subject and going to a RG university in the thought it will open doors. My eldest son is 10 years older than the youngest and employment opportunities for graduates are much, much harder in that 10 years. I know RG graduates who have walked into jobs, I also know RG graduates who are working as sales assistants and coffee shops while they apply for jobs that have over 100 applicants for every place.
Wuldric's criteria apply to her field- it doesn't necessarily apply elsewhere. Another part of the research is to find out the employment criteria for your field. We have too many students doing law- a complete waste of time unless you go to an establishment with a good track record.

ChazzerChaser Sat 07-Sep-13 07:53:08

Why is a degree is Nordic whatsit ok but not events or hospitality management? I can really only see snobbery. Universities examine the world around them, be that the events management or hospitality management or Nordic stuff (technical). Whatever the subject they'll be developing the same kinds of critical thinking, making connections, written and analytical skills etc. The difference I can see between the subjects is one is the kind of waffley abstract stuff reserved for rich people in dusty libraries to get all elitist about, the other is a more vocational subject traditionally done by the 'plebs'. People just use the subject stuff as an excuse for the class/background stuff.

ArtemisatBrauron Sat 07-Sep-13 08:03:35

I have a degree in a pure humanities subject which many people would see as irrelevant nowadays, but the majority of my year group in my subject at university went into the city (banking, law, accountancy) or into publishing, HR and heritage work. I am one of a minority working in the subject itself.
If it's a good university and a good degree class (1st or 2.1 these days really) then the subject doesn't really matter that much.

exoticfruits Sat 07-Sep-13 08:04:55

They also need to be mature enough to handle the freedom and the workload. As the parent you will only know what they choose to tell you.
I can't see the point of getting a place in a prestigious university if they have only got that far with close supervision from parents.
They now need at least a 2.1.
They also need to work out if they can work alone. Both of mine had heavy timetables because they worked in labs. My nephew had 7 hours contact time and the rest of the time he was on his own. Not all can handle that, especially fresh from school.
With the huge fees they need to get it right- many would be better with a gap to see if it is really what they want.

Chunderella Sat 07-Sep-13 08:52:56

The VC got his degree when only a small percentage of people had one though Magrat. It makes no sense at all to extrapolate from the experiences of people who gradated decades ago, or even just one decade ago, because the playing field has changed. A huge amount.

London Met recently lost its licence to sponsor international students, which got a lot of negative publicity. I don't know much about the institution, but I'm a solicitor specialising in immigration and it was very big news for foreign students and anybody working with them.

stemstitch Sat 07-Sep-13 11:08:43

Yes, probably just snobbery but unfortunately snobbery rules. It may not be right but the fact remains that your chances of getting a graduate job with a FTSE 100 company or getting into law are very small if you have the 'events management' type of degree from the 'Southampton Solent' type of university.

And yes, don't pay any attention to what degrees people got years ago. It has completely changed. A 2:2 in a new graduate is no longer acceptable to most blue chip companies, unless you are an exceptional candidate. Most grad recruitment schemes have a filter which automatically reject people who got less than a 2:1 or ABB. They have so many applicants they don't need to justify it.

MagratGarlik Sat 07-Sep-13 11:28:51

What you want to do with your degree is the most important factor though. There are plenty of graduate professions which do not involve working in the City or for blue chip companies.

Many teachers, nurses, pharmacists etc will have degrees which qualify them to do their job and make them very employable, but may not be from RG universities or 2.1 or 1st. In science, an honours degree, regardless of class or institution obtained from is considered insufficient, you really need a PhD to be qualified for most jobs beyond being a technician.

Basically, a 2.1 from a RG university is not an immediate key to employability, but likewise, a 2.2 or lower from a 'new' university will not automatically mean the employment scrap-heap. As someone said earlier, choose what you want to do first, then choose the most suitable qualification to get you there.

wordfactory Sat 07-Sep-13 11:54:50

The thing is many (most?) young people don't know what they want to do at seventeen/eighteen years old.

If either of mine have no clear plan (and I wouldn't expect them to), I'd advise them to go to the most well thought of university they could manage. Just to keep their options open.

MagratGarlik Sat 07-Sep-13 12:11:03

As others have said though, times are changing and I think the days of going to university to study something interesting for 3 years whilst deciding what to do are coming to an end. I have to say, in my work, I meet a lot of very driven and determined young people who know exactly what they want to do and are prepared to pull out all the stops to get themselves there. These young people are much more focused than students were 'in my day' (I'm old) where you went to university to study something you enjoyed with only vague ideas about what you would do later. That luxury of not bothering to grow up and figure out what to do with your life is just less available to young adults now.

Chunderella Sat 07-Sep-13 12:27:19

Having gone to a more prestigious university can certainly make a difference in teaching, especially secondary. A lot of the old polys have a respected B Ed course, for example the one at MMU is well regarded. But if you're going down the degree plus PGCE route, you're much better off with a 2.1 in something traditional from a redbrick. If you do have a 2.2 from a new institution, it had better be in Education or perhaps something like Early Years and you'll need to have something extra to compensate for the lower degree class.

MagratGarlik Sat 07-Sep-13 12:43:54

Maybe for humanities and arts. For science and maths, perhaps worryingly only approx. 50% of teachers have a 2.1 or higher. IME there is also a big increase in people taking subject knowledge enhancement courses in shortage subjects before doing a PGCE having come in with degrees with insufficient subject content.

Beastofburden Sat 07-Sep-13 12:48:28

There are degrees in all kinds of universities which have their own reputation and will get you a job. This is usually because the staff work very hard at links with employers and work experience. In the industry, people know which degrees they rate. If you are 18 you don't know which the good ones are, and it can be very hard to find out, though the Unistats data is bound to help people to see wh gets the jobs.

The problem you have is finding out which the really good ones are. A different subject from the same Uni might be feeble and no help to your future at all, it isn't about the Uni when you are dealing with these individual, highly respected courses.

But there is also a segment where people recruit for generic graduate skills. There it does tend to be much more about the brand of the Uni itself, and in that case, only around 10 unis have that kind of brand. Not even "all RG" have an equally strong brand for this.

That said, no disrespect to Nordic studies etc, but even at highly rated unis there are some subjects that would raise a bit of an eyebrow.

exoticfruits Sat 07-Sep-13 13:21:17

As others have said though, times are changing and I think the days of going to university to study something interesting for 3 years whilst deciding what to do are coming to an end. I have to say, in my work, I meet a lot of very driven and determined young people who know exactly what they want to do and are prepared to pull out all the stops to get themselves there. These young people are much more focused than students were 'in my day' (I'm old) where you went to university to study something you enjoyed with only vague ideas about what you would do later. That luxury of not bothering to grow up and figure out what to do with your life is just less available to young adults now.

This is so, so true. It a different world. When they come out the other end they have to be driven and determined. You can't just come out with a good degree from a good university and think it is the passport to a good future-it isn't. The determined and driven from a lesser university stand more chance of employment. In my experience it is relatively easy to go all through the system, jumping through the right hoops; it is when you get out at the end that you hit the real world with a bang. In the real world probably at least 60, maybe triple figures, want the same job and out of that at least a dozen will be just as well qualified.
As a parent it has been the the hardest thing to watch them try and launch a career, knowing that they have to do it all themselves.
It was hard when my eldest came out but nothing compared to how hard it is now.
With the present fees I would advise not going yet if you have no idea what you want at the end. Live a little and find out. It is too much money to spend just doing a subject that you like, or or good at, and hoping it will open the right doors.

ChazzerChaser Sat 07-Sep-13 13:51:56

The snobbery is more complex though. That's why I mentioned way back about how it's far more complex. Snobbery extends far beyond the degree. I don't believe for one minute an Oxbridge graduate from a poorer background, or even ordinary background will have the same prospects as one who went to the 'right' school and whose father knows the 'right' father. Another reason why it's important to think about what's right for the particular child. I didn't go to Oxbridge in part because I didn't always want to be an outsider and play the game to become an insider. For some it could be a great opportunity to build those networks, if they can manage it. For others it would be 3 miserable years.

Chunderella Sat 07-Sep-13 14:09:29

There are plenty of us who went to Oxford or Cambridge from poorer backgrounds, didn't 'play the game to become an insider' and were happy anyway. If you didn't think it was for you then clearly you were right not to apply Chazzer. But I would hate for anyone reading this to get the idea that one has to play the game you describe in order to be happy. I imagine you're right about not all Oxbridge graduates being equal, but just as important a question for the working class prospective applicant to ask herself is how much Oxbridge might increase her prospects generally.

Margret if those figures are for all teachers I wouldn't worry too much, as a substantial percentage will have got their degrees when a 2.2 was like a 2.1 is now. Someone who got a 2.2 30 years ago would still have been amongst the top few percent of the population in academic terms when they graduated. Even if they're for new entrants, the 2.1 redbrick brigade are going to find more doors open to them.

ChazzerChaser Sat 07-Sep-13 14:14:46

Yes indeed, it would suit some very well. I thought I included both sides on that in my response as I agree, for some it's a life changing opportunity. But not for all.

Chunderella Sat 07-Sep-13 14:37:39

In terms of the advantages an Oxbridge degree offers, it's more of a life changing opportunity for the poorest students, simply because education is going to be their only way to get ahead. For very privileged students, they may also have family money, connections, the ability to live free in London while interning. So while they likely still do better overall than their working class peers, the difference the degree makes to their overall prospects is smaller.

However, that doesn't mean an individual is going to be happy at Oxford or Cambridge.

78bunion Sat 07-Sep-13 15:01:09

Wuldric writes it as it is - that is how the better recruiters for the better paid jobs recruit. People who do not like that can ignore it and find it hard to get those jobs or they can go for different types (i.e. worse paid lower status) jobs. However do have the knowledge. Know what matters for those employers. Pretending the institution and class of degree and mostly As at A level in decent subjects do not matter does not really help anyone.

I don't agree that if you go to Oxbridge from a poor background as someone said above you then find it much harder to get jobs after because father's influence and contacts count. That really is not so these days - the first stage of your banking, law etc job is often an on line test or set of criteria which will be based on exam results. I suppose if you are brilliant but you cannot speak in sentences in a job which requires speaking then yes that might be held against you but the City is genuinely full of 20 somethings from state schools who went to Oxbridge from fairly difficult circumstances and work very hard and do well.

stemstitch Sat 07-Sep-13 16:06:59

I agree that contacts aren't everything. The best they can do is get you work experience, which is very useful. But they can't actually get you a job (again I'm talking about big companies here because that is all my experience). The application process has several stages, the first of which are run by HR and comprise verbal/numerical tests etc. It is much more regulated than it used to be, which is good. Talent will out, imo.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sat 07-Sep-13 17:25:26

People recruiting for the better paid jobs do not regard all RG universities as equal, I can assure you. Durham and Exeter have gained no cachet from joining the RG, rather they have conferred cachet on some of the more 'really? Are you sure?' members.

MagratGarlik Sat 07-Sep-13 17:43:59

Chunderella, those figures are for now, not for people who graduated 30 years ago (and even then, I have to say, I graduated 20 years ago and was still told a 2.1 or a 1st was the only class of degree worth getting, the academic 'elite' didn't graduate with a 2.2 or lower in general, even then).

diydot Sat 07-Sep-13 17:44:04

I went to Southampton Solent when it was Southampton Institute of Higher Education and did an HND in Business and Finance, back in the 80's it was considered a waste of time but I learnt how to program computers and accounts. I still use knowledge & skills from that course and currently run my own successful business. There are no useless degrees part of going into higher education is learning about how to motivate yourself to study and be a self-starter but you have to be ready to learn those lessons.

CombineBananaFister Sat 07-Sep-13 20:18:09

It also depends what you want from your degree. Totally agree ,unfortunately that uni and class count, but I did philosophy at York - which to some is a wishy/washy subject with no value at a okay university-big 'meh'

BUT- I studied something that required morals and ethics investigation which made me a diplomatic person. It included logic and maths. As it was a 'think for yourself' subject as opposed to black and white i got good debating skills and intuition.

I now have a very good job because i might not stand up on paper but in these recession plagued times recruiters want more than spoon-fed intellectual.

Maybe i got lucky but as i now work in training and recruitment for a big, well-respected company it's not just the educational skills it's the personality and nounce that count. Unless of course you into politics and it's whether you part of the Bullingdon club grin

78bunion Sat 07-Sep-13 20:22:31

I don't think those at the best universities are "spoon -fed intellectuals". they are usually just cleverer than those at the lesser institutions on the whole which is why employers want them. Also it's not just can you get a job but what do you earn at it that can matter to many women.

CombineBananaFister Sat 07-Sep-13 20:43:06

Didn't mean that offensive about being 'spoon-fed' but so much emphasis is on content and university that unless you are going to do a master in the subject or it's completely relevant to your career then then it's sometimes other qualities that recruiters look for - believe me experience and interview count. and cleverer in what way 78 bunion? -academically sure, but in practical circumstances or thinking on your feet in alien environments - not so much. Great that so many employers want them. not me

diydot Sat 07-Sep-13 20:46:37

no2 DS may also be applying for uni this year but at the moment he doesn't know what he wants to do, he only knows he wants to get away from this small town and live like his big bro in a uni shared house. no1 DS knew he wanted to study Eng Lit and because he loves it he is getting good grades and is aiming for a 1st, whether it will lead to a decent job who knows but he does know that it is his hard work which will get him there. The choices seem endless and the financial penalty for starting and maybe not finishing enormous. We will be going to open days and talking to lecturers which I hope will help.

diydot Sat 07-Sep-13 23:31:40

I used to work in the city 15yrs ago and used to recruit graduates for then starting salary jobs of 18K with experience pay could rise to 40-65K. I worked for a small company, not a corporate and would look for summer job experience as well as subject. Some graduates I interviewed lacked common sense or basic organisational skills, if you can't turn up on time to an office 5 mins from a tube station how could I send you to a site on an industrial estate in Nottingham? I would find a person who had been to the best uni but had never found themselves a part-time job in the local supermarket a more risky bet than someone who had shown that they had good organisational and communication skills. Would I have considered a non-graduate - yes but they would have had to have had very good experience to have made it to the interview list.

Want2bSupermum Sun 08-Sep-13 04:51:57

I faced this question and thinking back to that time my Dad gave me good advice. He said to pick a university,not a former polytechnic and to pick a subject that you enjoy that is one word - ie English, Economics, Law, Medicine, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geography, History... you get the idea.

From that you can do anything.

mathanxiety Sun 08-Sep-13 04:54:33

I thought thinking on your feet in an alien environment was what tutorials were all about.

exoticfruits Sun 08-Sep-13 07:43:50

You can't do anything from that list, as my DS1 found. He had no idea what he wanted to do at 18 and so played safe. He did a subject on your list, at a RG university. He then found he didn't want a career in research, teaching or anything to do with it, neither did he want the sort of career that it would have opened like banking. He worked out, by the end, what sort of engineering he would have liked and he wasn't qualified for it.
Former polytechnics have very good reputations for other things- e.g.a nephew did something with computing ( not sure of the exact title) but he walked straight into a very highly paid job in the city and has never looked back.
Back in my time, it would have been good advice- times have changed. They have changed even between my DS1 and DS3.
There seems to be a huge amount if snobbishness on here and people might be put off if their child can't make a RG university, as the rest appear to be written off, - they shouldn't be. They need to do very thorough research, visit, ask the questions- above all find the employment record for graduates. It is a huge mistake today to think they will just do a favourite subject at a top university and all doors will open.
DS3 didn't even consider a RG university- he went for the former poly that had a great reputation for the course he wanted.
People shouldn't be discouraged- some careers like law- will need to listen to advice on here- but it doesn't follow for all other highly regarded careers.
The question people should be asking is whether it is worth going to university at all. I think that in the future many will decide that it isn't- or that at least they should find out what they want to do first and not spend all that money in the hope that it might lead in the right direction.

exoticfruits Sun 08-Sep-13 07:56:45

The person that I know who took your Dad's advice ( on your list) has been washing up for a year and is about to start a Masters - hopefully not to go back to washing up. Another with that advice is working as a shop assistant.
I don't think that most people on here realise the dire situation of graduate unemployment.
You can be lucky, another friend's daughter has been recruited straight from university onto a graduate training scheme in the city and had the whole summer off first, but her qualifications and university are no better than the one washing up.

nooka Sun 08-Sep-13 08:10:06

My degrees full name is International Politics and Area Studies, my dh took History. Very similar skills involved just a different area of knowledge. You could I guess argue that my degree was more relevant to the world of work as it was about the last 50 years, whilst some of dh's courses went back several hundred years. A silly sort of snobbery I think.

It does seem odd to me that 17 year olds are expected to know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives (and from a positon of very little knowledge) where as adults we are frequently told that moving from one career to another is to be expected. In my field very very few people have only worked in that specific field, most have one or more different areas of experience which is seen as a great strength.

MagratGarlik Sun 08-Sep-13 08:19:22

I agree with everything exoticfruits has just said.

These days doing a traditional degree in a subject you enjoy at a RG university whilst deciding on the career you want is just not an option any more. RG is not a quality measure, it is a political lobbying group.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 08-Sep-13 08:29:49

One problem is that some people think that all RG unis have parity if esteem with employers (the sort of employers who care about that thing which really isn't all of them) - and they just don't. And althought the RG has tried to solve the problem of having significantly better regarded universities than most of its members outside the group, by transfering some of them in, it hasn't got them all. And it hasn't relegated the less well regarded ones.

The thing about reading for a degree with a single word name is all very well but some of the very best regarded degrees (from RG unis) have multi word names.

I agree that it's ridiculous expecting most 17 y/os to know what they want to do and for whom they want to work. And obviously the trend towards portfolio careers (and lifelong learning) makes this even more unlikely. But I suspect that most kids heading towards uni have some sort of idea of what doors they will be closing if they study x or y at universities w or z.

As for appreciating the current situation with graduate recruitment - several people in this thread are either academics or recruiters. So actually, I think maybe we know plenty, thanks.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 08-Sep-13 08:31:05

God, my typing. Parity of esteem.

CombineBananaFister Sun 08-Sep-13 08:38:08

I'm not so naive that i don't think some of this university snobbery exists but i really do think it's changing as a lot of employers simply cannot afford to be so narrow minded.

Do they really think it's a priority to be able to say 'Hey, look at US, we've got all our company made up of people with 1sts from Oxford'. Whilst I accept some of these will be the best suited to do the job, not all will be simply by virtue of their good degree/good uni - best educated does not = best workforce

Last year was the first time in 10 years that out recruitment criteria changed with a broader base of acceptable grades to denote a basic level of intelligence required and more emphasis on passing an in-house vocational based assessment. We've spread the net wider as it were and it's worked. Lower drop-out rate and people in roles that are really able to excel in them.

I love that it really evens the playing field, stops reverse snobbery too from chippy recruiters. More fool the companies who are still sticking to the old rules I say - these are brutal times.

MagratGarlik Sun 08-Sep-13 08:40:40

Myself included, Russians

exoticfruits Sun 08-Sep-13 08:47:17

I didn't say that no one knew what they were talking about!! Obviouly lots of people on here are better placed than me. I was talking to people like OP who was asking for advice and probably has no idea of the dire graduate employment problem. It was in direct response to Want2bSupermum who was giving her Dad's advice- excellent advice in my day but not now - it is very different today.
I just happen to know lots of recent graduates. It takes most of them many months to get a job- some haven't yet. Many are working in restaurants, bars etc while they look, many are volunteering or doing internships, many are going back to further study, many are starting in the sort of job that you could get after O'levels in my day.
My only point is that RG isn't the 'be all and end all'- they may not be the best for a particular course.
The sensible question should be 'do I need to go' or 'do I need to go before I know what I want in a career'. Purely because it costs such a lot. We were lucky. DS1 went before fees, DS3 got in with the lower fees, DS2 is doing very well without going at all. it now costs to much to just say 'I like Geography' and I would like to live in Bristol for 3years and I'm sure something will occur to me by the end and that employers will want me.

exoticfruits Sun 08-Sep-13 08:50:04

DS3 has now got a job with a company that would impress even the most picky on here- they are very innovative in who they employ- the range is huge.

exoticfruits Sun 08-Sep-13 08:51:21

Sorry-too much.

Chunderella Sun 08-Sep-13 09:44:59

78bunion speaking as a 20something Oxford graduate from a working class background, I can tell you that there were still some doors closed to me despite my prestigious degree. Basically, anything that required the ability to live in London for free whilst doing unpaid internships was out. This doesn't tend to include City jobs, which is why many of my friends who didn't come from money ended up there. Some of them would have preferred to do other things but were aware that they needed to start earning asap. And this was before the recession, it's so much harder now. Stemstitch I don't suggest that contacts will get you the job (usually) but the fact is that there are some roles you can only break into with work experience, and contacts are very important there. As this seems to be getting ever more prevalent, it is very important that we are aware of the full extent to which it limits the prospects of even the brightest and best working class students.

Margret the fact is that someone with a 2.2 from 30 years ago was still much better qualified than the vast majority of the population. Those teachers you describe with 2.2s from less respected institutions now are not going to be the ones getting the plum jobs.

wordfactory Sun 08-Sep-13 09:51:35

I think you make a good point chunderella.

Law, finance ect in the City is not bound uop in internships. Even work experience is paid (relatively) well. DH's firm stopped doing unpaid stuff years ago.

You want work experience. You apply. If you get it, you get paid. And if you do well, you'll probably be offered a training contract. Job done.

Not so law firms specialising in human rights, crime etc etc.

And don't get me started on politics, fashion, publishing, media, charities etc who all demand endless free internships, assuming the applicants can keep themselves and live in London!

exoticfruits Sun 08-Sep-13 09:57:37

I think you have to take more care with choice of course if you are not choosing top universities.
We didn't do any open days with DS1 because, it wasn't the done thing then, we had two primary school aged children, there were no tuition fees but mainly because he was planning a traditional academic subject at old established universities.
We went with DS3 because it turned out to be normal to go, we were free to go, there were tuition fees and he was choosing a non traditional subject at ex polys. You need to be sure it is a worthwhile course.
I agree with Chunderella - when he couldn't get a job I would have loved him to have work experience in London. We could only afford to keep him at home- a very rural area with no opportunities.

AndAnother Sun 08-Sep-13 09:57:48

Regardless of what degree someone has, and from which university, raw intelligence is important for graduates - a lot of the large employers are setting tests as the first part of the recruitment process and weeding out huge numbers from that.

exoticfruits Sun 08-Sep-13 09:59:23

DS had an interview in London for a very low paid starting salary. I was relieved when he didn't get it. I don't think he could have lived on it without subsidies from us.

exoticfruits Sun 08-Sep-13 10:01:55

Now that everyone ends up with a first or 2:1, AndAnother, I think you would have to.
DS got his job because he had to show them what he could do- not tell them what he could do- often 2 different things!!

MagratGarlik Sun 08-Sep-13 10:14:18

Chunderella, I know one science teacher at a private, selective all girls school who has a 2.2 in a non-science discipline. This person is a recent graduate. I know another maths teacher with a non-maths based (actually humanities) degree at 2.2 who is also a recent (last 3 years) graduate who works in another highly selective private school. I'd say they are pretty 'plum' jobs as teaching goes. These people are teaching up to and including A'level.

(The name, BTW is Magrat, not Margret smile)

fussychica Sun 08-Sep-13 10:19:15

Magrat _ how on earth did they secure such positions? Have they close connections with the schools?

MagratGarlik Sun 08-Sep-13 10:27:28

No. Shortage of people with good degrees in sciences and maths who want to do those jobs. Many with good degrees in those disciplines (by no means all) will get better paid jobs elsewhere. Consequently, maths and science becomes even less commonly chosen at degree level and so the cycle perpetuates. Of course, this is not all science and maths teachers, but current figures are that only 50% have a good degree. Most that are qualified with a good degree are biology specialists. Around 30% of physics specialists do not have a physics degree.

fussychica Sun 08-Sep-13 10:36:18

I understand the shortage - I know about the bursary scheme for shortage subjects at PGCE, I just couldn't see how you would apply for a post in a different discipline in the first place. Perhaps they applied for their subject area but due to the shortage of suitable science/maths applicants were taken on for science/math posts.
I just can't imagine how someone teaches a subject to A level that far outside their specialism.

MagratGarlik Sun 08-Sep-13 10:44:29

They applied for those shortage areas and trained in those areas (after a quick < 1 year conversion course).

MagratGarlik Sun 08-Sep-13 10:46:11

When I say trained in those areas, I mean got maths/science PGCE after a short conversion course, not trained as in doing another degree.

Chunderella Sun 08-Sep-13 11:00:38

Apologies for the name mistake Magrat. Given the shortage, I don't doubt what you say, but I also have a friend who is involved in interviewing science teacher applicants at a rather prestigious private institution. Well paid too which I assume accounts for the popularity! They are rather oversubscribed and don't touch less than a 2.1- because they can afford to. Though there are not many occasions when recruitment for physics teachers is competitive, when it does happen the 2.1s from the redbricks are favoured. They have more options than those with 2.2s from less prestigious institutions, and that's the key point here.

Having said that, not all teachers want to work in selective private institutions. Some actively prefer underprivileged schools. Speaking of which, the very competitive Teach First had a disproportionate number of Oxbridge and redbrick participants last time I checked.

ItsaTIARA Sun 08-Sep-13 11:10:03

Having studied at a high status uni and then a much lower status institution for my post graduate vocational (externally examined) course, and hence hung out with both sets of students. I'd say that the only real waste of time degrees are a) something that you won't be motivated to work at so you'll end up with a third b) a traditional subject from a non-traditional institution. I don't think an Eng Lit degree from London Met is going to impress anyone.

It's a shame that your DS doesn't like maths OP, but if he is money-motivated I think you should impress upon him that he should work like stink to get the best possible A level result. An A* in Maths A level, especially if he does a pure arts degree, is a very useful safety net for any kind of finance-related job. As an employer, having suffered from many admin assistants with flakey numeracy I would always put someone with a good numerate A level at the top of the heap. The other thing I do is google schools and mentally calibrate A level results accordingly - 4 As from Eton gets a shrug, 4As from Tower Hamlets Academy gets an interview.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 08-Sep-13 11:15:08

Magrat And me. That's probably why we agree! grin

Chunderella Sun 08-Sep-13 11:34:07

Good call re A* Maths. That's always going to look great on a CV.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 08-Sep-13 11:41:49

Chunder (great name grin ) It does depend what the career you want is, though. Being great at maths but unable to string 5 words together in a sentence, is not an attractive selling point.

LaFataTurchina Sun 08-Sep-13 11:43:47

I think the £9000 tuition fees are such a shame.

My friends and I were probably amongst the last bunch who still thought right I'll just do a tradtional subject that I enjoy at a redbrick/older uni for three years and then tada! I'll get a graduate career (graduated 2010).

While it didn't work out that way, (what with graduating into a depression), and we've all had to go into further study or into non-graduate careers initally I feel so lucky that we got three/four years doing something we enjoy, and learnt to live away from home in a safe sort of environment before being chucked out into the real world.

Things just seem to be getting harder every year for young people, and they are having to make important decisions at a much younger age without really getting any breathing space sad

MagratGarlik Sun 08-Sep-13 12:04:43

I think though that those of us born in the '60s, '70s and '80s had the luxury of being able to use university as a chance to have fun, grow up and explore life without responsibility is something which was not available to previous generations and nor is it available to current generations. Being a graduate from a 'good' university is not enough any more, because graduates from 'good' universities are ten-a-penny. Choosing a career and then choosing appropriate training to get you there are pretty much the way things are going and yes, that means young people have to make decisions sooner than in previous times.

Mumzy Sun 08-Sep-13 12:19:31

I think a gap year would be a very good opportunity to find out what type of work might suit. For example Volunteering for 6 months in a healthcare setting then 6 months in a law firm enables you to see the jobs warts and all. However you need to be proactive to get the opportunity and have dps who can afford to keep you for another year. I agree its sad this generation will not have the luxury of doing a subject just for the pure joy of it without the need to think about employment prospects. However its either limiting university to the most academic 10% of the population which the taxpayer supports as in the 'old' days or expanding up to 40 % of the population which has to paid for by the individuals themselves.

78bunion Sun 08-Sep-13 12:55:07

It is worth remembering that when I went to university many many of us did not get the "full grant and unless our parents were rich or kind enough to make the money up plenty could not go to university at all. It was not a totally free education (although it is true there were no fees). There was still an expectation parents would pay unless the parents were not very well off and still the problem that some parents chose not to pay and others did pay. There were also no loans at all and jobs were not always that easy to get. It was not a brilliantly easy nirvana.

I agree that in careers like law if you are Oxbridge working class as all the internships etc are fully paid and fees are paid for your professional qualifications in the big firm (and banking etc etc) it is very different from those working class graduates wanting to get into fashion, media etc but on the other hand they will never make much money in fashion, media etc so perhaps it is a good bonus that they are put off those lower earning careers women have far too often been pushed into where you earn pin money on the whole. Perhaps the absence of paid internships in jobs which do not pay women well is a blessing in disguise for the Oxbridge working class person made good.

Chunderella Sun 08-Sep-13 13:12:02

Frankly 78bunion I'd rather be able to make that call for myself. It's no blessing at all to know that despite your education and ability, there are still many doors not open to you. Especially as actually many of them pay well once you've got past the early years. My friends who did get into TV and media stuff actually earn quite a bit more than I do now, ironically!

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 08-Sep-13 13:17:54

I have several friends making an absolute fortune (in anyone's terms) in media jobs.....

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 08-Sep-13 13:20:32

Chunder try being working class Oxbridge educated and in possession of a not widely understood disability. sad Although actually, I can't really complain since things have worked out OK. I suspect had I not had Cambridge on my CV though, with the other strikes against me I'd've found it rather more difficult to succeed...

78bunion Sun 08-Sep-13 13:38:42

It is lawyers who will sort this out of course... as if you are just watching or shadowing you don't get the minimum wage. If you're doing work you should be as the test cases are showing.

Chunderella Sun 08-Sep-13 14:57:28

No doubt, Russians. It's bloody tough at the moment, and with a disability you have to go the extra mile. I know it isn't meant to be that way, but no point pretending it doesn't happen.

MaddAddam Mon 09-Sep-13 16:37:54

I read Philosophy. Which has to be the meeting point between Utterly Pointless and still academically respected - graduates tend to have good job prospects.

It gives you the skills to write whole essays on what the term Pointless might mean.

I loved it.

mathanxiety Tue 10-Sep-13 17:12:40

My exBIL did Philosophy and now writes software for the aeronautics industry (in the US). When he first applied for the job he got an offer over the phone, no interview whatsoever.

Want2bSupermum Wed 11-Sep-13 16:44:45

Exotic I agree with you on some points. It was my Dad's advice and for where I was at the time it was good advice to give me. The world has changed and keeps on changing. I think the expectation of the world in the future will be to combine studying and work throughout your career. This is how things have worked out for me and I see many of my cohort following a similiar path.

For professions the basic degree gets them started and I think the only focus should be on where employers recuit from. If your child(ren) are not sure what they want to do I would suggest your child does some research and finds out which universities companies such as Unilever, General Mills, P&G etc hire from. I would also be pushing my child to go get work experience. When a child is curious most adults want to help. I have had about 15 kids shadow me this summer. One child was as a favour to the parent I am friends with but the other kids approached me themselves. It wasn't paid because they were shadowing me and two came back and asked about getting work experience. I pushed for both of them to be offered internships and they are coming back in January to complete paid 12 wk internships that will give them 9 college credits.

The other kids that shadowed me learnt that they are not interested in a career in accounting. That is fine and I explained that it isn't for everyone but they should think about what they want and call me as I might know someone within the firm I work for or at a client they could shadow.

DalmationDots Fri 13-Sep-13 20:43:52

My DD is doing a non-mainstream degree with a title which makes is almost off putting.. think a mix of education/social policy/psychology/family law... but with a title which badly tries to capture it all
When she went into it we were anxious whether it would be recognised or lead anywhere as it is the kind of degree where you could reach a dead end with employers just not understanding. But she knew reading the course content it was perfect and everything she is interested in and would be very beneficial for the career areas she is interested in - Educational Management/writing policy/maybe teaching/setting up a school eventually.
She took the risk, the course is at a Russell Group and it turns out her department was rated top this year. She has got a job offer for when she graduates next year already and has absolutely loved the course and studying it with 29 other very like-minded students.

IMO someone doing say History with no clue what they want to do after or ambition is far worse/more pointless than someone doing Disney Studies with plans to go on and be a manager/designer/marketing at Disney world!

mathanxiety Sat 14-Sep-13 02:20:55

Want2b there should be more people (especially women) like you allowing teens to shadow. What a great thing to do.

IMO someone doing say History with no clue what they want to do after or ambition is far worse/more pointless than someone doing Disney Studies with plans to go on and be a manager/designer/marketing at Disney world!
Amen to that -- you need a plan and the get up and go to make it happen no matter what you do.

lljkk Sat 14-Sep-13 17:48:43

Some of the best paid people I know are electricians. Uni not the only good path. Agree something one enjoys should be first priority.

greyvix Sun 15-Sep-13 00:23:31

I do not think that any degrees are pointless; they show an aptitude for learning. Ironically, DD did a media degree, at a Russell group university that was very challenging, yet others would deem it to be pointless.
I agree that the university is important. In my experience, however, motivation from the student is the key to success, whatever subject they studied, or uni they attended.
When I interview people, personality and commitment are key attributes, but I would not employ them without a degree.

bruffin Sun 15-Sep-13 08:58:36

I think your very shortsighted grevix.
There will be a lot more going down the apprenticeship route nowadays. When I left school in 1979 university was a privilege for a tiny minority. Having 5 o'level passes put you in the top 15% let alone having any A'levels. I have know someone who got turned down for a job because when she got to the interview they asked where she got her degree, because it wasn't mentioned in her CV.
She was a fully qualified accountant and had 30+ years experience, but they said the interview was terminated because they only employed university graduateshmm.
DH is an Incorporated engineer. He left school at 15 (august baby) and did a proper apprenticeship. He said in those days you could tell the engineers who came through the degree route. They could tell you all about the internal workings of an oscilloscope but wouldn't know how to turn it on hmm He might have left school at 15 but carried on learning for many many years afterwards.

greyvix Sun 15-Sep-13 17:03:57

I agree. I should have added that I interview for places on secondary teacher training courses, so a degree is essential. I should have been more specific.

tb Thu 26-Sep-13 23:14:58

Don't know if anyone else has commented Poledra, but to train as a Chartered Accountant, you need at least a 2:1.

If you weren't clever enough to get that class of degree, you'd never pass the professional exams.

Poledra Thu 26-Sep-13 23:23:39

tb, I had to scrol back as I'd forgotten what I'd written grin

Anyway, my friend has an ordinary degree and did pass his professional exams <shrug>. But all that was some time ago and I am no doubt out of date. <in denial about own age>

alreadytaken Fri 27-Sep-13 07:14:50

at Cambridge the history students are, I'm told, wined and dined almost as much by law firms as are law students (who claim never to have to pay for lunch in later years). This is third hand so reliability not guaranteed grin but indicates a history degree may not be poorly regarded.

Urely the best guide to what employers think is the employment statistics for different courses, providing you look at the detail as some degrees have a lot going on to do further degrees.

It's possible, although getting harder all the time, to get a job in accountancy with a 2.2 as I know a recent graduate who did so. He's now taking his professional exams.

Employers want to see evidence that he'll work hard, manage time well, meet deadlines and get along with people. Voluntary work or work experience looks good on a CV.

FellatioNelson Fri 27-Sep-13 07:28:34

My son is doing English (Lit) and Philosophy joint honours at Reading. He turned down Birmingham because the feedback for his particular course there was not so great, but I wonder now, given that his degree is not focused toward any particular career if I should not have encouraged him to go to Birmingham just because a RG uni would have looked better on his CV, even if his experience of the course was not so good. Given that his subject choice is a fairly irrelevant to any job he might do, I think future employers would be more likely to care about the overall reputation of the establishment he went to than about how well his particular subject was taught. Not that Reading is not a very established and well regarded uni - it is, but people have such a bee in their bonnet about RG.

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