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help me to help my teenager make choices for her future

(16 Posts)
kiwibella Tue 05-Jul-11 20:33:42

I need help! My dd is currently in year 10 and came home recently saying that she had looked at 88 pages of courses for her A levels and doesn't want to do any of them. This is fair enough but talking to my teen us becoming frustrating because she can easily tell you what she won't do but is lost when we try to discuss potential possibilities. She loved her work experience in a primary school... but doesn't want to work with miss. She is amazing with art and expert on computers. Her IT teacher had enormous praise for her creativity... but she doesn't want to work in an office. Talking to her tonight, I pointed out that we are rapidly eliminating so much that there won't be any choice and she will have to do what's left!

We've talked about how these choices aren't mapping out the next 30 years and her career path (just yet anyways) but somehow she needs help to actually make a decision. When did it become so important to make such difficult decisions?

kiwibella Tue 05-Jul-11 20:35:06

oops, doesn't want to work with KIDS

verlainechasedrimbauds Tue 05-Jul-11 20:43:04

How quickly do the decisions need to be made? To be honest, if there are 88 pages of courses, she'll be feeling overwhelmed I should think!

Can you suggest to her that she forgets it for 24 hours or so and then just jots down some of the subjects or ideas that interest her? If it makes her feel less overwhelmed, she could also have a list of "definitely not".

Studying IT doesn't mean that she's destined to work in an office for example. Good IT skills are likely to be very useful whatever she ultimately ends up doing. Combining this with something arty could open up all sorts of possibilities.

I wonder whether there is too much emphasis on it having to be the "right" choice for her future right now. There is every possiblity that she will change her mind quite a few times before she settles on a career (my dd followed one path very doggedly and has now changed direction completely, pursuing something she had never even contemplated while at school).

Some young people do know what they want to do in the future...most don't. Unless there's great urgency to make decisions, I'd be inclined to let it brew for a while and try to come at it afresh when you/she have had time to digest some of the 88 pages!

kiwibella Tue 05-Jul-11 21:17:40

thanks verlaine. Nothing needs to decided immediately, thankfully. It's a good idea to start writing things down. I agree its all probably overwhelming right now. The 88 pages comes from a website search after being given a link to look at at school. I guess that's career advice?

cricketballs Tue 05-Jul-11 23:22:09

what subjects does she enjoy? If she is not sure what she wants to do as a career (how many of us know that at 30+ grin) then she should study what she likes; same goes for a degree careers come later...

Lizcat Wed 06-Jul-11 08:00:37

Is it worth looking at the options at college too. Nearly all universities now accept national diplomas in relevant subjects as entry requirements too so this doesn't really narrow her options.
I talk to a a lot of students about work experience and encourage them to write a list of what they did like and a list of what they didn't like to help them to think about what interested them.

cory Wed 06-Jul-11 08:03:35

What cricketballs says. If she finds out afterwards that there is something she really wants and that she needs a different A-level to get there, she can always catch up on that later, but if she now chooses A-levels she hates and does badly all round for 2 years and loses confidence, that will be much harder to remedy.

Several members of my family have changed track in their late teens/early twenties and had to do some quick catching up work- but they have set out from a good starting point, having acquired good working habits in Sixth Form.

sugarfoot Wed 06-Jul-11 10:18:36

Sounds like she should be looking at some graphic design courses.

AllTheYoungDoods Wed 06-Jul-11 10:28:58

I was going to suggest graphic design too. Some of the most 'unofficey' offices ever are in the creative industry - table football, cool dress codes, the works. Maybe see if she could get some work experience somewhere like that?

How academic is she? Could she do Maths, IT, another academic subject - ideally a language these days, and then Art as an AS-level - that would give her enough points to have lots of options for uni and would equip her really well for lots of careers.

Possible careers should could look into are design (print or web, or product - loads of options!), advertising, animation/film work, maybe architecture (if physics and maths doesn't terrify her!)... loads of really exciting stuff there that having a nice mix of creative and techy subjects would benefit her, at all kinds of academic levels.

Tortu Wed 06-Jul-11 18:53:43

Oh blimey, take a step back. She's probably completely overwhelmed.

I always tell my students to choose subjects that they're interested in, with the idea that this should lead them to a career that they're interested in. Don't try and fit anything to a career just yet- perhaps watch this video to see why!

I've seen far too many students struggle through my A-Level/ IB course having taken it because they are focussed on a particular career, but, in fact, it is a rare student who can work solidly for two years towards a career goal in a subject they might dislike.

Perhaps help her by limiting her options a bit: A-levels or the non-academic route? Subjects she definitely doesn't want to do? Or, even better, wait another 6 months and see if she's got a better idea then as a lot can change in Year 11.

TheSadWitch Wed 06-Jul-11 19:03:39

I would forget about careers when choosing a-levels. I don't remember the last time I was asked about mine and they certainly wouldn't have been relevant for either of my careers. Just choose something you enjoy and are good at. (And anyway, teaching doesn't have to be about kids and IT doesn't have to be about offices.)

Talker2010 Thu 07-Jul-11 19:00:08

happilyconfused Thu 07-Jul-11 20:21:48

During Year 11 lots of kids keep changing their minds about what A level options they want to take including on enrolment day. There are so many webpages and booklets offering advice on what to choose and how to choose it is not surprising that kids in Yrs 10 & 11 get so overwhelmed by it all. They then suffer from peer pressure and some realise they may or may not get the grades to be a dentist or whatever.

A good Sixth Form will bear this in mind when interviewing students.

Georgimama Thu 07-Jul-11 20:31:57

She (and you) also needs to bear in mind that it is very unlikely that she will have one career from graduation to retirement - which will probably be an awful lot later than it currently is. She will probably have three or four shorter careers in different fields; the idea of a 16 year old identifying their job for life and steadily working towards it then doing it until 65 is pretty much redundant now.

Agree with others who said she needs to identify what she is interested in studying, because then she will do well, and doing well opens possibilities.

wotabouttheworkers Thu 07-Jul-11 20:46:03

Difficult...some suggestions

If not possible to choose any of the A level courses on offer at school, could she attend, for e.g., an FE college and do a subject or subjects not offered by her school?

Stay at school & choose the subjects she dislikes least, then

a) take a gap year and then apply for university,

or b) apply and defer for the gap year, then change to another course if possible and if she changes her mind.

Sorry, haven't read the whole thread... Does she actually want to undertake academic study? Would she rather take a vocational course or an apprenticeship for example?

Leaving school now to get a job would be very difficult in the current economic climate unless you know someone who might give her a job for a while - she might then find she can make choices more easily.

Himalaya Thu 07-Jul-11 20:49:10

If she is bright and won't struggle with them I would generally encourage her to stick with 'traditional' A level subjects - maths, English, sciences, history etc.. at the core. They tend to keep more options open than the 'introduction to' subjects like economics, business studies, IT, media, -oligies etc..(which u can do at university without the specific A level).

As a default option think about 2-3 traditional subjects and 1 or 2 additional 'new' subjects at A level or GCSE- or the Bacc, which gives a similar structure. If you think about it that way it narrows the choices a bit and it is not so much like Baskin Robins '79 flavours of your future'

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