Advice please about dd's A level choices. (She's asked me to ask you- I'm not being helicoptery)

(81 Posts)
seeker Sat 16-Mar-13 19:39:42

Dd is currently taking History, Philosophy, English and Theatre Studies at AS level. She has always intended to read History, so she was going to drop Theatre Studies after AS. However, since she's been in the 6th form, she has changed her mind, and now thinking about applying to study drama or theatre practice- in a completely ideal world, at Central. So she decided to take all 4 subjects on to A2 to keep her options open. So far, so good.

On Friday, she was told that they probably won't be able to timetable all 4 subjects. They are still trying, but it looks unlikely. So she'll have to drop one. Obviously TS is the one she should drop if she wants 3 good academic subjects for University entrance, but she needs it for any theatre based course. But she will be closing other doors for herself if she drops English, her least favourite, and doesn't have 3 solid subjects.

Any advice? Does history, philosophy and theatre studies look a bit lightweight? It does, doesn't it?

From bitter bitter experience, dro p theatre studies. You can do drama as a hobby. If you're good and determined you can be an actor after school has finished. Theatre studies will be as much use as a chocolate teapot and will eat away at your time. Beware.

BOF Sun 17-Mar-13 14:27:48

I totally disagree.

BOF Sun 17-Mar-13 14:46:02

Times have changed. History degrees just ain't that special any more. If you've got a practical, career-focussed degree under your belt, you are ten times more likely to end up with work in that field than if you waste your time with an old-fashioned 'solid' academic subject. For most people, the route into an arts-related career nowadays will come with experience and contacts, which it just won't be building with History at Manchester or whatever. The work will be going to people with a portfolio of stuff and involvement with actual productions. Gone are the days of being 'discovered' à la Lana Turner while sipping milkshake at Schwabb's. Nobody is going to put you in their movie (and they certainly won't invite you to do the sound mixing, or post-production editing or whatever) unless they see you know what you are doing.

LoopaDeLoopa Sun 17-Mar-13 14:57:15

Agree with BOF. In these days of massive tuition fees, a History degree is a wasted luxury. Most only offer two or so hours' tuition a week and are far too broad to be of much use, unless she wants to be a historian or teacher.

I'd be pressing the school to keep them all. if timetabling is impossible they need to be running a class after school in one of the subjects, and paying the teacher overtime or time in lieu. Many schools do this.

VelvetSpoon Sun 17-Mar-13 14:59:22

I think best advice is speak to the Admissions Tutors and (if they say its not essential) drop Theatre Studies. I'm sure she can do enough extra-curricular drama related stuff to make up for it (from distant memory, friends who did drama degrees many years ago were very involved in school plays, local drama groups etc and used all that experience to support their application). Plus in the event she changes her mind about the degree, A levels in English, Philosophy and History give her more options than say History, English and TS.

BOF Sun 17-Mar-13 15:28:32

More options to do what, though? Workfare with all the other unemployed graduates? You need actual skills in this climate.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 17-Mar-13 15:55:19

Is English just her least favourite or also her weakest potential result?

I'd be inclined to keep TS and History (in case she changes her mind back to History) and then:

1) Ask if she can be put in for the Phil exams but maybe study in her own time/twilight, to keep all 4, or

2) Drop whichever is likely to be her weaker grade out of E and P.

I agree with pp that a degree with a specific career in mind is probably a safer choice at the moment than a general academic one...she can more likely reuse a Theatre degree to go into teaching or many other things than she can get into theatre with a history degree.

seeker Sun 17-Mar-13 16:35:30

English is her least favourite- <whispers in an embarrassed manner that she has been told she's on track for at least As in all 4 subjects>- thank you all. She's still dithering, but will talk to the head of 6th later in the week, after trying to talk to somebody informed at Central.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 17-Mar-13 17:13:17

Then as she's obviously going to achieve highly in whatever she does, she has lots of doors potentially still open for her. Good plan to speak to admissions tutors for the relevant colleges - she might be able to find time with the dropped 4th A level to build up some portfolio ideas to plug the gaps for her lack of creative/technical subjects. Did she do any of them for GCSE?

(How on earth can one make sensible A level or even GCSE choices if you don't know what you want to do? Ds (ok, only yr 7), swings between science and illustration/writing as career choices all the time - how on earth is he going to decide whether to do triple science or art vs graphics?)

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 17-Mar-13 17:28:07

I don't think she "needs" theatre studies to get into that course as long as she has sufficient experience gained elsewhere. Dd aspires to a career in theatre but will be going to a school that doesn't even offer theatre studies a level.

I Would imagine that quite a few applicants would have art or design a levels though.

History is always useful. It means she will understand the historical periods plays may be set in. I also think English is a good a level blow ever I guess it's whatever she enjoys and wants to do.

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 17-Mar-13 17:31:07

I totally agree though that a degree related to they area if work where she will build contacts is far more useful than a general academic subject one.

I know I'm biased as dh teaches on theatre related degree courses but its true.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 17-Mar-13 21:40:30

It sounds like a great course, seeker. I sort of agree with BOF - I would completely agree with her if it wasn't for the fact that all the people I know working in the theatre at the moment who I knew before they were working in the theatre (ok it's only 5 but, you know... Obviously I know some of their friends too now) have history degrees. Most of the people they know did more vocational courses though and that's certainly what DD1 is thinking about.

Yellowtip Sun 17-Mar-13 22:03:24

Drop Philosophy.

seeker Sun 17-Mar-13 22:07:46

I feel like going "agggggggghhhhhhhhhh!"

God knows how dd feels- she has only just got in from a rehearsal and has retreated to her bedroom "because I've had too many people today"!

Thank you everyone- do please keep posting advice. The more opinions the better, in my opinion.

Yellowtip Sun 17-Mar-13 22:22:50

Pictures I don't think that A level History, given the narrow specifications, will be of particular use in 'understanding the historical periods plays may be set in'. Of course she might get lucky in the unlikely event that a play is set in Vietnam or Korea for example, or the NE during the 80's (Billy Elliot type of thing). But there's no grand sweep with A level History. I'd advise her to keep on History simply because it's a real alternative option.

Clearly the main problem here is that English is the one subject of most use both for History and for the Central course yet it's the one she likes least. But the marking of Philosophy can be very, very random and that's a real concern. History, English and Theatre Studies would be fine for History and fine for the Central course too.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 17-Mar-13 22:33:22

I was having a bit more of a think and I'm swaying more towards 'drop philosophy' too. The course she's set on sounds like it might be highly competitive and I would imagine that if there's a chance she might have to look at a more straight theatre/drama/directing degree, then English would look better than philosophy.

I have a friend who's worked as a professional director, and has a directing degree from a good university, who has no A levels and got in via a theatre makeup/beauty therapy type NVQ (and lots and lots of amateur/semi pro experience). She now works in directing, event mgmt and design. There are lots of ways in.

I'm thinking she will need a 'safe' option for UCAS, though, which is much harder to judge for a 'vocational/creative' degree (they either like you or they don't) than for an academic one (go with one with lower grade criteria).

Yellowtip Sun 17-Mar-13 22:35:35

My own view is drop Philosophy partly because of random marking and partly because English Lit bolsters Theatre Studies in a more robust and obvious way than Philosophy does.

BooksandaCuppa Sun 17-Mar-13 22:49:29

She might be able to think of it as year 13 is really only two terms - and doing something she's less keen on but still really good at - is good practice for all the bits of whatever course (and career) she does that she's also 'less keen' on.

Save philosophy for late night coffee/alcohol-fuelled rants once she's at Uni!

EvilTwins Sun 17-Mar-13 22:49:36

Yellow - my A Level History covered 1300-1939.... British Social & Economic.

I agree with those who say she should drop her least favourite subject.

Yellowtip Sun 17-Mar-13 22:54:08

When did you sit your A Level Evil?

EvilTwins Sun 17-Mar-13 22:59:31

A very long time ago grin. Presumably there's still more than one syllabus though? My 6th form did two, even back then.

Yellowtip Sun 17-Mar-13 23:03:21

There's not a huge amount of variation in the style though Evil. The current specifications are narrow.

I'm pretty impressed at 639 years of History in five terms though - all credit! Though you do say British Social & Economic so I'm guessing wool trade and canals etc?

EvilTwins Sun 17-Mar-13 23:08:35

Yep, and Black Death, Feudal system, Industrial Revolution, Education, etc... Really interesting material, delivered in deathly dull style.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 17-Mar-13 23:25:11

The history A level syllabus I did covered a gigantic range. Medieval right through to WW2. Both UK and European. But, you didn't cover the full range as a student, it was divided up into chunks, and you covered a chunk. So, at my school, one group did c1800-c1914 (ish) in both the UK and European paper, the other group (mine) did the English civil war and its run up (basically, elements of the reign of Elizabeth (mainly how she dealt with parliament)) and C17th Europe. And even within that, you could pick and choose your countries and still be able to tackle enough questions - I remember I was the only one in my group who opted to revise and plan to answer questions on the 30 years war and to give Spain and Russia body swerves, while all the others wimped out of the 30YW and embraced Spain and Russia with open arms.

I do t honk any of my theatre friends use their history qualifications at all in their professional or artistic lives. But I'm fairly sure that they are more interesting people because they know interesting stuff.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 17-Mar-13 23:26:01

Blimey that was either bad typing or terrible autocorrect skills from the iPad. Don't think not Dot honk

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