A Level Choices and "facilitating subjects"

(62 Posts)
Phaedra11 Sat 08-Feb-14 10:00:42

My son is in Year 11 at a local state school which doesn't have a sixth college. He hopes to continue with A levels at the nearby sixth college which has a very good reputation. The A levels he wishes to do are: English Lit, Law, Sociology and IT. I am aware that A level Law is widely thought of as irreverent, even if you go on to study Law at university but he really wants to do it, partly because he thinks it would show him whether he does want to pursue it further and also he's really attracted to the mock trials that the college participates in. He wants to study the other subjects because he enjoys them.

I've always thought that studying the subjects you have a passion for was the best bet, but was concerned to read on another thread that to stand a chance of getting into a decent university, you need to have A levels in two facilitating/traditional subjects. I assume English Lit would qualify but not the others. He definitely does not want to study Maths or Sciences, though he already has A grades in GCSE Maths and Biology and is predicted As for Chemistry, Physics and Further Maths. History is a possibility but I know he would rather study the other subjects and I have been told by a friend with insider knowledge that the teaching of History at the college has been comparatively weak recently with a fast turnover of history staff.

I don't know whether to say anything to DS about this or not. He is already feeling the pressure of imminent GCSEs. We did discuss initially whether History might be a better option if he does go further with Law but in the end he decided against it. I think it is possible/quite likely that he would achieve better grades in the subjects he prefers. He has no particular ambitions for Oxbridge but does hope to go to university. The school has given guidance on applying for college but not on A level choices. The Sixth Form college has said that they are flexible about A level choices at this point and it is quite possible to change options in the initial induction period.

Any advice?

Dreamgirls234 Sat 08-Feb-14 10:10:48

What would your son like to read at uni?
My daughter is in year10 and would like to read law and politics at Oxford or Cambridge. And everywhere we do they say take traditional hard subjects. My daughter does gcse sociology and it isn't really a enriching subject and isn't considered a hard subject. If he's unsure about what he wants to do he is better taking facilitating subjects as they offer more options to study a variety of degrees. But it's entirely up to him as some of these courses can have a lot of essay writing espicially sociology. GoodLuck

Dreamgirls234 Sat 08-Feb-14 10:13:15


Take a look at this website really good for him

sassytheFIRST Sat 08-Feb-14 10:16:55

Depends how able he is and what kind of uni he would be aiming for. Russell group and Oxbridge wouldn't look at him with those subjects ( unless poss for IT subject), however he could get onto Law course at a midrange ex poly e.g. Staffordshire, uni west of England etc.

I'd recommend dropping one in favor of a traditionally tougher subject if he is academic enough - history, geog, philosophy etc would also keep his options wider at this stage.

A level law is v v dry, btw....

Saharap2 Sat 08-Feb-14 10:23:42

I think that's scaremongering to say only ex polys will look at him with those subjects. If he gets straight As in those subjects I don't think he will be restricted to the polys.

Yes it would probably be good to add another more traditional subject but law and sociology are not as bad as some people are making out. They are essay based subjects which require a decent level of analytical thinking.

senua Sat 08-Feb-14 10:30:41

Try to get him to think about what he wants to read at University. If he has some idea of the subject then he can start reading admissions criteria. He can then see for himself whether his choices will stand up.

Has he already studied Sociology? To go for two not-previously-studied subjects (Law & Sociology) is a bit risky.

Dreamgirls234 Sat 08-Feb-14 10:45:53

I agree with senu
My daughters sixth form school say if they take sociology alevel they must have done either sociology or some strong type of analytical subject and have a B above in the subject. It is a good subject but not as good as you may think. He's best to look at some unis he likes and see there admission criterial that way he can see what he needs. Although it's always best to keep options open as they change their minds a lot. History is a excellent alevel as it broadens there mind and allows them to think outside the box and develop many skills. It's also well regarded at many universities

It sounds as if you've had exactly the right conversation with your DS Phaedra. The Russell Group Informed Choices document is worth reading to see what the fussiest universities prefer by way of A level subjects.
To look at actual uni requirements, look at www.ucas.com.

You may find this website useful too. You can input A level subjects, and see what degrees they lead to, and look at career options (and salaries!) afterwards: www.bestcourse4me.com/

Phaedra11 Sat 08-Feb-14 11:21:08

Thank you, everyone. That RG document is really useful, thanks dream girls. DS is academic and is predicted As and A*s for his GCSEs. He is studying Sociology GCSE and was quite surprised to hear it isn't considered a serious subject as he has watched my younger brother who has a Sociology degree, gain his PHD and lecture at universities around the world.

I've just a chat with DS about where he eventually hopes to go with his qualifications and what degree he might take. He said he's thinking Law or Computers though possibly now veering away from Law because he knows about competitive it is and how long and expensive the training is. He's now browsing through UCAS courses and has just told me that he's now considering doing Classical Civilisation instead of Sociology!!

Suffolkgirl1 Sat 08-Feb-14 11:46:46

What about Religion, Philosophy and Ethics rather than the sociology? DD who is considering Law has been recommended it.

ISingSoprano Sat 08-Feb-14 13:25:02

I think the point is at 15/16/17+ they often do change their minds about which degree or career to follow. It's all about keeping as many doors open as possible. Dd is in year 11 and about to go to sixth form too - it's fair to say we have been around the houses and back again in deciding which subjects to choose!

eatyourveg Sun 09-Feb-14 07:51:28

This was handed out to ds on one of his 6th form open evenings

BeckAndCall Sun 09-Feb-14 08:31:04

That's a really interesting link, eat. - I've never seen that before.

So a Law A level is a perfectly good A level if you want to do a law degree at a Russell university. What it doesn't say, though, is that a Law A level would be OK as a facilitating subject for any other degree. ( just summarising for those who haven't followed the link. And for no reason because all of my DC are past the options stage!)

senua Sun 09-Feb-14 08:46:43

Really interesting because it seems to go against 'received wisdom'.
It's strange that it's not dated. A quick google seems to imply that it is from 2009.

wordfactory Sun 09-Feb-14 08:53:02

Personally, I would still be very sceptical about how many of the most selective universities actually make offers to those with A level law.

There is quite a big gap between what the universities say is the least they will accept and what they actually favour IMVHO

mysteryfairy Sun 09-Feb-14 09:01:15

This might be a weird suggestion but have a look at the grade statistics for those subjects at wherever he is going. When we looked at local sixth form college there was a general trend for the softer subjects to have lower grades. I don't think this necessarily relates to quality if teaching but actually to the type of students that typically take them. If your DS is very academic he made find it frustrating to go at a slow pace to cater for less academic students.

I work in IT and I don't see ICT being rated as an A level when we recruit. Computer science useful if you want a technical role though the real techie types seem to have done a lot more coding/building hardware etc for leisure than would ever be delivered in an A Level anyway.

LightastheBreeze Sun 09-Feb-14 09:12:47

DS is doing a Physics degree at a RG university and he took Law A level, found it very interesting and got an A. It did not seem to stop him getting offers for Physics from the other RG universities he applied too either. In fact they seemed interested on his interviews that he had done a subject that seemed very different from the normal science /maths subjects.

eatyourveg Sun 09-Feb-14 09:59:06

2009 seems about right as it was 2010 when we were doing the rounds of 6th forms and ds was thinking of doing law at uni

The latest advice suggests that for most Russell Group courses, only one or two facilitating subjects are required. That leaves one or two other subjects, which could include Law. The advice specifically for entry to Law degrees, from the Informed Choices booklet:

Usually none, although a few universities require English.
USEFUL ADVANCED LEVEL QUALIFICATIONS History; other facilitating subjects.
There really are no essential subjects for Law. Maybe one choice should involve essay or report writing. History gives you good relevant skills for Law but is not essential."

Phaedra11 Sun 09-Feb-14 13:11:59

Thank you everyone for your help. Eatyourveg (iPad wanted to correct your name to easy purvey!), that link was appreciated and thanks again for your other message.

Thank you, Careers Dragon for sharing your knowledge and expertise. I feel lucky to have input from an actual careers dragon adviser!

ISing, you were spot on about changing minds. If DS knew for sure what he wanted to do, it would be much easier to plan a route to getting there. But hey, he is only 15!

We have talked and DS is happy to change Sociology for another subject. It turns out he has set his heart on Law, English Lit and ICT but is ambivalent about Sociology, especially now he realises it doesn't have the status of some other subjects and is happy to change it to a more acceptable subject which fits in with his possible ambitions. He's considering two possible options at the moment.

We also had a look at this list which I found via another thread? DS has no particular plans for Cambridge but it was interesting as an example of how a prestigious university might view things. It lists Law A level as acceptable only when applying for a Law degree which fits in with what others are saying. We also found it useful to look at the UCAS website and the requirements of other universities.

Thanks again everyone. I was panicking slightly yesterday. I'm only an occasional visitor to Mumsnet and don't think I'd ever visited the Secondary Education thread before. I'd never heard of Facilitating Subjects or Russell Group universities and was beginning to feel like a really rubbish mum for not sorting this out for DS ages ago! Anyway, panic over, we can now continue, all informed and prepared!

TalkinPeace Sun 09-Feb-14 13:33:41

Surely the main point of "facilitating subjects" is that they are just broad brush academically rigorous that then let you transfer those skills to other areas

My A's were Maths, Physics and Geography
I did a Geography degree
and am now an Accountant

its all about keeping as many doors open for as long as possible
I can see that Sociology is very "narrowing"
As it IT (rather than maths)
But Law - if the syllabus is rigorous - would teach analytical thinking methods that would be applicable in many walks of life

HmmAnOxfordComma Sun 09-Feb-14 13:52:23

I think it's worth considering maths instead of IT if he's in any way good enough to get a decent grade in it.

Would be better for computing degrees and law, I suspect, as well as many other options.

English and maths would be two facilitating subjects, then two more (law and sociology? Or law and ict?) would keep his interests covered.

Phaedra11 Sun 09-Feb-14 14:32:26

I have suggested Maths as an option but he's not keen. I think one problem is that he knows some real Maths geeks (his younger brother is one) who love Maths and feels he couldn't compete with them at a higher level. He is good enough to have gained an A in GCSE Maths last year and to be put forward for Further Maths this year but he doesn't feel he could go much further. I discovered yesterday that this is also linked with his uncertainty about continuing with Computers/ICT. He and DS2 are bedroom programmers, really into coding and creating little games. DS1 loves all that but is worried that he might reach a plateau with his understanding and not be able to compete with the geniuses! He can't resist the opportunity to study ICT at college though. The syllabus looks right up his street and I don't think anything I could say would put him off.

His real strengths are with the Art subjects where he is predicted A*s. He is very articulate and got the top possible marks for his speaking assessments. I think he has all the right qualities to go into Law. The thing that stops him being absolutely committed to that is that we know plenty of Law graduates and he is very aware of what full training in Law involves.

antimatter Sun 09-Feb-14 14:53:33

Have look which IT degrees would consider student without Maths A level.
I can guess none of good unis as far as Comouter Science is concerned.

Phaedra11 Sun 09-Feb-14 15:01:44

We did look yesterday actually! That was when he told me that he wasn't planning to go further with Computers anyway (for reasons above) but he can't seem to give it up completely either.

I know, I know but there are limits to my influence!

DS2 will be much easier when it's his turn - loves Computers, Maths and Physics - not so keen on Arts subjects/writing essays.

antimatter Sun 09-Feb-14 15:05:06

What makes him believe he can't get A in Maths A level?

Phaedra11 Sun 09-Feb-14 15:22:33

Antimatter, it's confidence and I have no idea whether it's founded or not. We did talk about it with his Maths teacher at Parents Evening and she thought he would be fine at A level and pointed out that some of what he's doing in GCSE Further Maths is in the A level curriculum. When I reminded him of that, he said it would only be the easier bits though! He seems to think that there will come a point with Maths where he will no longer understand.

I think a lot of it is comparing himself to other people. He's always been in the top Maths set but not top of the top Maths set. Also he sees people like DS2 and a couple of his friends who appear to find it all very easy and actually enjoy it. This makes him think Maths A level is for people like them, not him. I will talk to him again.

BTW- I've read this thread from the beginning and realised that some of what I've said about DS's ambitions has been contradictory. Apologies for that. The reason is that what you've all said had prompted me to have several little chats with DS and he's said different things at different times. I think there has been some progression though and I'm sure we're both better informed now.

antimatter Sun 09-Feb-14 15:36:23

people who are in the top of the top match set will go onto studying maths

he needs it to help him to move up one step towards what he wants to do

I think he needs perhaps another chat with a teacher re: A levels math, I am sure if he does further maths at gcse he will be more than capable of achieving A

I would not do IT, I don't think he will find it interesting enough, if it was Computing - then it would be more likely alongside of his current interest I think.

If he does Eng Lit, Maths - he would cover a lot of possibilities and also would give himself advantage in the future when applying for graduate jobs.

ChocolateWombat Mon 10-Feb-14 10:10:51

I find it shocking that all schools and colleges aren't giving out the Informed Choices document to all of their students for whom RG type Uni might be an option.
As the document says, any facilitating subject, for Law, but History is particularly recommended, although not essential. History builds the skill of evaluating and questioning evidence (think of the source questions and essays) which is why most people doing alas degrees have it as an A level. Interestingly, law schools are also very interested in taking History graduates onto their Law conversion programmes too, due to the skills built up.
So for social sciences at Uni, don't think in terms of doing that subject at A level as necessary at all. Ensure at least 2 facilitating subjects can be carried onto A2 and beyond that, the 3rd can be a social science if you really want to do one.

ChocolateWombat Mon 10-Feb-14 11:22:27

OP, when your child decides (realise they may have a bit longer to make decision) it would be good to know what options they do go for.
And, if you feel you have had to get the info you needed here, rather than from the school, I'd mention it to them. Perhaps they will then do a better job at informing next years Year 11s. I just think it is awful that some perfectly able children, get to the end of Year 12 or start of Year 13 and find the places or courses they would like to apply for are not open to them, because they weren't told the relevant information about what universities want.

ISingSoprano Mon 10-Feb-14 11:37:54

ChocolateWombat I think part of the problem is that when students are applying to sixth form which is not part of their school there is very little advice from the school in terms of choosing subjects.

ChocolateWombat Mon 10-Feb-14 11:48:37

ISing, good point. This might well be the reason it happens, but it needs addressing doesn't it. Careers or A level advice given in 11to16 schools needs be as relevant as that given in 11to18 schools.

I guess the 11to16s don't tend to get the negative comeback, from kids and parents finding doors closed to them, because they are no longer at that school, by the time they find the doors closed. They need to be given the negative feedback though and have this issue pointed out to them. I have lost track of if the OP is in an 11to16, but think probably yes. The OP needs to tell that school that they have not given her child the advice they needed to make informed choices. They had to go online to find it. It's great the OP now has the right info, but lots of those Year 11s are making choices without the information. Their parents expect the school to tell them what they need to know.

ISingSoprano Mon 10-Feb-14 12:26:20

It's definitely easier second time around. With dd I feel much better informed to help her choose her subjects. The best advice I can give is to look further ahead and spend some time looking at UCAS looking at what universities are asking for.

Phaedra11 Mon 10-Feb-14 13:14:23

Thank you. Yes it is an 11-16 school and a city state school with a "mixed" catchment area (high percentage of kids with free dinners). I've been happy with the teaching there and the pastoral care has been great. However careers advice has been limited and parents are not involved. University is never going to be an option for many of the kids and I think the school assumes that those for whom it is, will be looked after by the sixth form college. I will take this up with the school and as DS2 is still in Year 8, will have plenty of opportunities to do so.

I don't know if I dare report back on what options DS choses. I'm not sure all my new found knowledge is going to help much at this stage as he's so set in his own mind. Maths is a definite No. I've talked to him. I've told him everything Antimatter's said. I've suggested further chats with his Maths teacher. But No. He is now considering History and/or Classical Civilisation. Don't suppose Classical Civilisation is thought too highly of either but at least it's on the Cambridge A list for Arts subjects.

ChocolateWombat Mon 10-Feb-14 13:20:27

Phaedra, I would print off the Informed Choices document for him to read himself. He will understand it, it is aimed at 5th formers. Perhaps he would like to read this thread too.

At the end of the day it is his (influenced by you) choice. As long as he knows which doors are being kept open and which closed, his choices are fine.

Onlyconnect Mon 10-Feb-14 13:22:41

I teach A level law and every year some of my students go on to study law at uni, including to Russell Group universities.Some of the attitudes to A level law quoted here are out of date. AQA did a survey a couple years ago asking unis about their attitude to A level law and with the exception of LSE and Manchester they are all happy with it- including Oxford and Cambridge colleges. LSE and Manchester would accept it along with 2 facilitating subjects. Having said this, to be on the safe side I would pick only one non- facilitating subject.

TalkinPeace Mon 10-Feb-14 13:47:11

DCs school - along with almost all those in this county is 11-16
THe colleges are very geared up to dealing with it and ensuring that the open evenings give decent info, that the taster days will be a good shakeout etc etc
links between the schools and the colleges are very good
go talk to the college directly

Phaedra11 Mon 10-Feb-14 17:18:12

After much discussion, soul searching and reading of documents, DS has come to the following conclusions.

He is very committed to studying Law. He appreciates that it is a very competitive field and that giving himself a disadvantage at the first hurdle would be a bad idea. Maths A level would be torture to him and he is not confident he could get an A. He has an interest in History and a teacher has told him he's capable of getting an A* at History A level. He knows Law A level isn't essential when applying for a Law degree but wants to take it at A level anyway and thinks the mock trials will be good experience. He does not want to give up Computer studies completely and can't help feeling it might be useful if the whole Law thing falls apart and he's after an office job.

He has therefore decided on the following three a levels: English Literature, History and Law plus a BTEC A level equivalent Computers thing. Not perfect I know but I'm happy as we seem to come to an informed decision and we weren't informed before.

HmmAnOxfordComma Mon 10-Feb-14 17:53:19

That sounds like a fine choice. Two facilitating academic subjects, one vocational/academic and one vocational.

Also keeps his options open if he decides against law.

He's mentioned the mock trials a few times, but he should possibly try and join the college's debating team if they have one as that would be helpful in developing his spoken and argumentative skills too.

Good luck to your ds in getting his GCSEs in the meantime.

ChocolateWombat Mon 10-Feb-14 19:19:57

Great to hear he has chosen. The A Levels sound a good combination.
I would just check that the Unis he is interested in will accept the BTECS and not expect 4 AS levels. It may well be fine, as offers at A2 are for 3 subjects, not 4. It would be unusual for people entering the top Unis to have a BTECS rather than 4th AS, but that doesn't mean it isn't allowable.
If you look at some Uni websites Law sections, they should be able to tell you that.

Best of luck to him now and in the future.

Phaedra11 Mon 10-Feb-14 19:39:00

Thanks Hmm and Wombat. He may also be taking an additional AS level in the first year but all the options for this have names like Critical Thinking and World Development which seem to be discounted by the RG universities so probably not helpful in that respect.

ChocolateWombat Mon 10-Feb-14 20:40:28

TBH, I would avoid those 'extras'. They take up your precious time,mbut count for little. If you have 4 AS or equivalent of, that is enough. NOn RG Unis may be prepared to accept those qualifications, so for some, they work if they do poorly in one of their main ASs.

Phaedra11 Tue 11-Feb-14 19:18:08

Thanks again, ChocolateWombat. Really, you've all been so helpful with this, it is deeply appreciated. I was wondering what was to be gained by those extra ASs when they seemed so respected. It seems like it depends on how high you're aiming.

DS had his interview with the Sixth Form College today and has been offered a place. He gave them his preferred options as above and has been told there is still flexibility to change his mind. After the GCSEs the college is running three days of sample lessons, to help them with their final decisions.

In a surprise development, today DS said that he can see that Maths A level would be incredibly useful and is planning to have a look at some past papers and talk to his Maths teacher about whether an A grade might be a realistic aspiration! Seems like a good idea though I suppose the past papers could scare him off completely!

Phaedra11 Tue 11-Feb-14 19:19:19

Should have been " unrespected"!

ISingSoprano Wed 12-Feb-14 08:17:40

Sounds to me like your ds has his head screwed on - I really hope he does well. Very best of luck to him.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 12-Feb-14 19:22:49

Very few universities ask for a 4th AS level in their entry requirements, although it is usually expected. However doing a BTEC will compensate for this, and BTECs are now accepted by many top universities. They will tailor their offers to his qualifications if they will accept them.

I think there is a lot of recieved wisdom about A-level choices which to some extent contradicts the reality of university admissions. In an "all other things being equal" situation, those with subjects considered less accademic may be edged out in favour of those with more accademic subjects. However, this will be a later consideration, after the grades (achieved and predicted), PS and reference are considered.

Your DS needs to study subjects that he enjoys and will do well in. There is no point pressuring him into a Maths A-level he doesn't think he will enjoy or do as well in as another subject. If he ends up with a B or a C in maths, instead of an A in another subject, this will limit his choices much more than chosing an A-level which is slightly less well respected.

ChocolateWombat Wed 12-Feb-14 19:44:39

Top universities are inundated with applications. They can be picky about who to give offers to. One of their ways of binning applications is on subjects that have been studied. They DO give offers to candidates with the more challenging facilitating subjects (2 required). They do require certain predictions. Many will not even read the personal statement or reference, because the piles of applications are too big.

They will sift people, first using predicted grades, then subjects, and then, when the pile is still so big, they will look at the personal statement or reference. The only thing you can control at this stage, is having the right subject.
It is right to choose things you enjoy. But you need to be wise to university admissions procedures. See the Sutton Trust INFORMED CHOICES document about admission to RG Unis.

Phaedra11 Wed 12-Feb-14 20:28:50

Thanks ISing. That's lovely of you.

Thanks slow and wombat. I am really glad that wombat and others have passed on the information about university admissions. DS has now given serious consideration to Maths A level but decided against it. Whilst eventually acknowledging it was a possibility, he decided to go with his strengths instead, which for the reasons you raise, slow, is probably a good thing. Studying History and English seems to play to his strengths and they are facilitating subjects, recommended for Law.

A positive thing that has come out of all this is finding out where DS's motivations lie. I had thought he was ambivalent about Law but it turned out he was worried about the expense of the LPC etc more than anything else. Once we reassured him that we would do our best to support him financially, he was full of renewed enthusiasm. We know plenty of people in various stages of legal training (because of my job), so are pretty aware of the cost, possible length of time involved and extremely competitive nature of it, all the way along. Regarding Computer Studies, he now seems okay to keep that as an interest which may or may not lead him somewhere.

Namechanger012345 Wed 12-Feb-14 22:42:35

Law school does not have to be expensive. I know its a long way into the future for him but if he wants to go into law in the city, most of those firms will pay the law school fees plus a maintenance grant.

BeckAndCall Thu 13-Feb-14 06:33:00

On the expense of law school, my DD will be doing the GDL this year and doesn't have sponsorship - she wants to be a barrister ( may change after she does the course - dad is a solicitor so may go in that direction) and I would sincerely hope she would get sponsorship for the second year ( can't remember what the barrister equivalent of the LPC is)

But in the meantime, the fees for the GDL are £10k but there is no student loan available - so that's the bank of mum and dad, then. ( unless anyone knows of any other options?)

Namechanger012345 Thu 13-Feb-14 11:54:22

Beck and call, your DD should look into scholarships from the inns of court but it is certainly a lot harder to get financial support as a prospective barrister than solicitor.

I think there are some loans available through the law schools for GDL but don't think the terms are particularly favourable - certainly not like a "student loan". Another option could be to work and take the GDL part time, spreading the cost and giving the student chance to earn enough money for fees. Some students are already doing it this way although yes the majority are probably relying on bank of mum and dad if they don't have law firm sponsorship.

BeckAndCall Thu 13-Feb-14 12:40:52

Thanks namechanger that's helpful - I'll suggest she at least looks at the Inns as a potential source of funding!

And luckily, or sensibly, or by good design, she's going to a law college local to us ( the same one her dad went to many moons ago) so will live at home for the year, saving heaps of costs plus she has a very flexible shift type casual job when shes at home so she's expecting to work maybe 15 hours a week to keep afloat for spending money.

DalmationDots Fri 14-Feb-14 10:47:11

Sorry this may be a silly question!! But my DN is going the law route and was having a very similar conversation with me the other day.
DN is in 2nd year of uni, applying to get vacation schemes/sponsorship but not getting far. So far DN has work experience offers but nothing more and nothing likely to secure sponsorship. She is at a good RG uni and did (can't remember exactly but something like) English, History, Politics A levels. DN started wondering the other day if doing Law a level and/or a law degree would have made any difference.
Just wondering Beck did your DD choose to do GDL without sponsorship (i.e. not apply) or was she in the situation my DN is in? How easy is it to get a place on a GDL without sponsorship? Does it hinder the application in any way? Is your DD starting to apply for sponsorship now or is she now waiting for 2nd year? I hope all these Qs makes sense!!
My sister is getting quite worried as it is DNs real passion and DN is getting very demotivated by all the rejections.

BeckAndCall Sat 15-Feb-14 09:32:44

Hi Dalmation. My DD applied fro the GDL without any thought of sponsorship - she didn't want to actually tie herself down to a future employer at that stage so decided fro herself that she would be going solo, so to speak. Your DN will not be disadvantaged in any way by not have sponsorship I'm sure.

dD also applied for those same summer schemes and didn't even get a sniff of an interview from a solicitors firm and was a bit disheartened. She did however get two mini pupillages, which pay nothing of course, but which have helped her CV.

DalmationDots Sat 15-Feb-14 11:13:30

That is great to hear beck I will pass on your comments to my DN! She will be really relived and she was starting to panic. She is so desperate to do law and feeling like she is hitting dead ends wherever she tries.
I think part of DN thinks there is shame in not having sponsorship in that it might decrease job prospects, but I can see your DD is absolutely right. Having thought of it from your DD's perspective, I can actually see the advantages of going it 'alone' until you know which firm is right for you, have more experience and know where you want to be located smile
Good luck to your DD!

Saharap2 Sat 15-Feb-14 19:05:21

Hi Dalmation. I'm training at one of the big City law firms so I wanted to give my 2p on your DN's situation as I remember being there not too long ago!

First of all, not doing a law degree or having law A level will not be a hindrance to her. Plenty of lawyers at my firm and across the city are arts grads (sciences also fine but rarer among lawyers). You see a lot of people with history, English, foreign languages, politics etc. I went the GDL route too and generally about 40-50% of the intake at the big firms will be from the GDL. I get the impression that marks and university reputation are more important than the actual subject. She needs to be getting consistent 2:1s or 1sts.

I can't really speculate on the reasons why she has not got anywhere with her vac scheme applications but a certain amount of rejection is definitely completely normal and not necessarily cause for concern. There is an element of numbers game to it. However if she has submitted a fair few applications it might be a good idea if she could get someone to have a look and give some guidance. Has she been to see her university careers centre or talked to law firm graduate recruitment people at law fairs? As a non law student I think writing what the firms want to hear in "commercial awareness" questions is sometimes a struggle and she might need to get some pointers on this.

It is also worth pointing out that as a second year non law student she might not even be eligible yet for a lot of schemes, as it's normal for law grads to apply in second year and non law people in their final year.

I would be very wary of suggesting to her that there is any advantage in doing the GDL/LPC unsponsored and without a training contract lined up. Beck's DD's situation is different as she is veering between the solicitor and barrister routes, but for someone set on a career as a solicitor I think they should absolutely be trying to get sponsorship before paying out their own cash for law school. She will be able to get on the course regardless as the providers will take anyone with a 2:2 who can pay - they are businesses and about bums on seats but it's an expensive gamble to go it alone when a law firm would pay fees + maintenance grants and you miss out on the stress of job hunting while doing your GDL course and exams. She has plenty of time to sort it though as she can't actually apply for a training contract until next year anyway!

ChocolateWombat Sat 15-Feb-14 19:13:47

Isn't the key thing to getting either a training contract or a job later without one, your academic profile. As the previous poster said, having a Law degree isn't essential, but a very impressive academic profile is. That means great A Levels, having been to a top Uni, getting at least a 2.1 in a well regarded subject. Might be law. History or other mainstream competitive subjects just as good. People with these profiles can get onto the next courses, get sponsorship, training contracts and jobs. They have a chance to have it all. People who can't get to the stage after degree, but to something in their academic profile letting them down, may pay to get onto the course, unsponsored, but are likely to have difficulties in the next stage, because their academic profile will let them down then too.
Not sure how all this relates to the OP, but am I broadly right in my understands g, that academic profile is the thing that makes or breaks it all.

DalmationDots Sun 16-Feb-14 15:45:57

Thanks for your input Saharap, very useful, I will post it on to DN.

Phaedra11 Sun 16-Feb-14 20:23:19

Thanks all. I've also been finding this helpful, even though not directly related to my original post, now that DS is aiming for Law.

I work for an advice charity where we have a lot of volunteers who are Law students, mostly from the local (non-RG) university. I suppose I'm bound to see the ones who haven't yet been been successful, but many of them seem to struggle to find training contracts and some have said that they often question their decision to study Law.

Saharap and chocolatewombat, what you say about universities with good reputations and academic profile makes a lot of sense, given what a competitive area Law is. What I'm wondering now is, which are the universities with good reputations for Law? Just the RG ones or are there others?

lljkk Sun 16-Feb-14 20:27:59

There are lots of league tables for different subjects.
This a good a start as any. You know where your local Uni is on that table; I would have guessed aim for the top 1/2 of the table.

lljkk Sun 16-Feb-14 20:29:50
Phaedra11 Sun 16-Feb-14 20:31:22

Thanks lljkk, that's really helpful.

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