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Tell me about your transition from education -->> adulthood/employment

(31 Posts)
ThreeTomatoes Fri 14-Mar-14 10:12:40

I have just elected to home educate dd in Sept as she enters secondary age and so have been thinking a lot about what education should be about and how it affected me both growing up and as an adult, and how I can enable dd to have the best start possible.

So, I'd like to hear your stories of your transition from education to employment and adulthood, what about your education helped you get there, and how you think education affected you and your attitude to learning, yourself, life, society. I am going to start simply with facts about myself, not feelings, so that it's not a leading OP, but please bare all yourselves or as much as you're happy to bare!

To start with myself then, I didn't need to work very hard at GCSEs and did well anyway, I had no interest in continuing on academically to uni (I knew it would be a waste as I didn't have a clue what i wanted to do). I only did A level because I couldn't see any other option. I got 1 A Level (music) because I spent too much time socialising. At 18 I volunteered for a community for people with learning disabilities (connection made via my mum), 10 months later got a live-in job and left home, and 2 years later was manager of the workshop there. Left 3 years later, temped at offices for a couple of years while i tried to figure out my next step, my main asset for that being super fast typing skills (which I had picked up at home growing up, not school) and then 12/13 years ago got the job where I currently work, which I was told after interview I got due to my experience at my first job.

I have also been studying with the OU for the past 6 years (needed no other qualifications to start with them) and will have completed my BSc Hons degree in another 4, but it's going to be some time before I enter a career in that area as, well, it's a difficult area to get into when you have a family and I'll be devoting the next 6-7 years to dd's education anyway! Besides, my main reason for studying with the OU was my fascination with the subject, not really for any big plan or goal.

So, in short, my schooling up to 18 was a complete waste of time in terms of what I did next. What did I gain from it that has been positive? A few close friends, greater proficiency on the piano (didn't have lessons till A level, taught myself before that from a young age), an appreciation and interest in music, history and literature that has stayed with me (unfortunately i wanted to do history GCSE but couldn't because music was in the same option group and music was a no-brainer), great memories of the musicals we used to put on... but that's about it.

What about you?

TeenAndTween Fri 14-Mar-14 20:23:22

Feeling a bit sorry for you, as you've not had any responses yet.

I think you might better post on the Home Ed board to see what skills they think you should be teaching.

Personally I wouldn't have stood a cat in hells chance of getting the job I did without a science based degree. I only got that because of science based A levels. I only could do them because of my O Levels. I didn't actually use the detail of my degree, but I did use the ways of thinking I developed whilst at university.

The thing about formal qualifications is you may not need them, but you may well need them. So you might as well get them. imo you will be doing your DD a great disservice if you do not ensure she aims to achieve a minimum of 5 GCSEs A*-C including English and Maths, as that is the standard requirement for 6th form colleges to do A levels or equivalent. Yes she may not want to go, but she may well want to.

Another thing about formal qualifications is it shows an employer you have a certain level of general ability. This is likely to transfer over to other jobs. So if I wanted a reasonably capable person for a general job, I'd rather have the one with 8 Cs than someone with no GCSEs because their parent didn't believe they were necessary.

phonebox Fri 14-Mar-14 21:08:23

The subjects I chose from GCSE through to my Masters haven't had the slightest bit of bearing on any of my jobs, and I've had about 6 of them so far.

What made the most difference was my PGCE - being a vocational qualification, it has impressed employers and seems to be very transferable through different sectors.

cory Sat 15-Mar-14 09:13:04

I'm an academic so slightly different. I'd say apart from learning relating to my specialist subject, the one thing that has been most valuable is having been made to learn MFL's at school: I use those every day to keep in touch with research that is going on elsewhere. Also any reading of literature- just being used to reading books very fast and efficiently.

KingscoteStaff Sat 15-Mar-14 11:03:20

The reason I ended up working in the theatre is because I did an English + Drama degree and I spent my student life working free for different theatres and theatre companies

I did an English + Drama degree because I had done a Drama GCSE (would have done a Drama A level, but it wasn't available at my school).

I did a Drama GCSE because my school was passionate about drama and there were 2 amazing drama teachers who gathered an enthusiastic group of girls around them, many of whom have gone on to become actors, lighting designers, directors and stage managers.

I guess I could have done all this if I'd been Home Eded, but to be honest, my enthusiasm was built by having the school theatre there all the time - something was always going on. If I was free after school or at lunchtime then scenery needed painting, lights needed to be rigged - there was always a welcoming atmosphere.

iseenodust Sat 15-Mar-14 12:40:44

I was a coaster a school. Would score less for effort than attainment. Got a decent enough A levels to get on to a law degree...which I was not enthusiastic about. (I wanted to do a different subject but school had predicted a lowish grade, prediction was crap & proved inaccurate.) So preferred social life at Uni over studying and parted ways at end of year one. I take responsibility for that but know they dropped twenty of us from just the one course so it's not always about the individual but also funding/politics.

I then landed a job as a trainee accountant which seemed like a good way to get paid and get qualifications. For a young person that was actually a great work environment with a social circle on hand but audit is IME indeed tedious. From there, and without having qualified, I was poached by a client to move into general management. While there it became clear that I needed some sort of qualification to boost the CV so I looked into doing a part-time post grad certificate on the basis of prior experience. The course suggested I sign up for the post grad diploma with option of get out after one year if not enjoying it (see the academic/funding/politics machinations again). Anyway ended up going on for the Masters which I got. Only then did I appreciate I have some decent brain skills. grin That lead to invitations to move into consultancy work.

I've been lucky to always work in naice environments, on a decent salary with mostly good people. My regret is I never found a work passion.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 15-Mar-14 13:40:41

For me GCSEs and then A-levels were essential. Average GCSEs worked like stink 3 As at A-levels got into very competitive vocational Uni course. Did extra intercalated year to get business skills so spent 6 years at Uni and left with two very good degrees. 17 years later I still work in this area, running my own business and employing 17 people.
I would see where your DC's interests lie and remain open and flexible to whether to continue home educating in the future.

BackforGood Sat 15-Mar-14 13:53:32

I'm wondering how you managed to do the further study if your "schooling up to 18 was a complete waste of time in terms of what I did next."

I presume that you learned to read, to write, to order your thought, to be able to revise and to study, and to be numerate at school?

ThreeTomatoes Sat 15-Mar-14 22:35:37

Thank you posters, very sorry, I posted this, then forgot about it having not received responses till later! blush

To answer your question, BackforGood I actually do not remember learning anything at school that has been helpful in my OU study (I didn't start studying with the OU till 16 yrs after leaving school!), or that i would not have learnt/did not learn anyway out of school. I don't remember learning how to revise for exams, take notes, read 'actively', for example, at all - the OU is excellent at teaching you how to study, as well as teaching you the study material. Plus, it is self-directed, self-chosen and self-motivated study, such a very very different ballgame to school. I was bored sh*tless at school, felt trapped & frustrated at being told what I should be doing/learning/working towards, very little of it my choice. I lost 'me' in it all, basically, and only finally found 'me' in my first job age 18 - and only very recently re-discovered an enthusiasm and excitement for learning, that was well and truly lost at secondary.

The idea is dd will be free to follow her interests, and let them lead her to where she's going. She has requested already that she join in with local maths & English & possibly Science tutor groups, which could pave the way to GCSEs, and is absolutely open to doing GCSEs later on (she was very happy to discover that she could choose to do one or two earlier than normal, rather than having to do 8 or more all at once later, for eg - and also that there's nothing stopping her doing a few at 16 in college). Or, there are plenty of other options in terms of achievement & experience worthy of a mention on a CV for future employment , it really does depend on where life takes her. My main goal is to nurture her enthusiasm for learning and life that will hopefully stay with her through to adulthood and help her make the most of her life, for the rest of her life.

Re theatre - interesting you should say that, KingscoteStaff (did you by any chance teach Nicola & Lawrie? wink LOVE those books!!), putting on the musicals we did is the one thing I remember really enjoying at school! I am going to make sure dd has opportunities to be involved in such as youth theatre, arts award, that sort of thing, should she wish to.

Saracen Sun 16-Mar-14 09:45:19

My experiences were quite similar to yours, OP. What I learned at school which has been useful to me later was negligible. I did go on to university and loved it, but I never saw it as a stepping stone to a career. I went because there were interesting people and lots of learning going on, and I liked the lifestyle. It was pure self-indulgence and I've never regretted it, even while paying off the hefty student loans. Unless I had chosen to be an academic, university never looked likely to help me in a particular career. I think a good academic education can be worthwhile for its own sake (if the young person finds it engaging), not just as preparation for work.

What I think is greatly underrated in this country as a preparation for work is... work! Many people seem fairly snobbish about which jobs are worth doing, and will suggest that a teen who is planning to go to medical school will be wasting her time stacking shelves at the supermarket. I don't deny that five years of full-time supermarket work might not be the best use of such a person's time, but experiencing different jobs is brilliant. I did numerous temporary and part-time jobs from the ages of 12 to 23 when I got my first "proper" long-term job. Every single one of those jobs taught me transferable skills and gave me life experience.

I learned how to get to work on time despite unreliable buses, how to keep going to the end of the shift when your muscles are telling you to pack it in, how to do a tax return, how to deal with an awkward boss, the importance of clarifying expectations, the usefulness of creating a paper trail if you are expecting trouble, how to treat clients, how to create variety in a boring job, how to be reliable and how to ensure people see you as reliable, how to write a good business letter, how to file things so everyone can find them, where to cut corners and where not to, when to stick it out and when to quit.

I also learned about what matters to me in a job, so I could choose the best career and working environment later on. I don't know how teens can understand their own needs and talents as working people if they haven't tried a number of different jobs and voluntary placements. It takes time, so you may as well get a head start. Through all these jobs I learned, for example, that I love a mental challenge, that I don't have the self-discipline to run my own business, that I like working alone most of the time, that I hate supervising people and am rubbish at it, that I am a good "ideas" person but need to sleep on any important decision, that I can give brilliant presentations but will always find it stressful, that I am a hard worker, and that I'm willing to work for very little money if the conditions are right.

This is why I've encouraged my home educated teen in her desire to do paid and voluntary work from a young age. To me, this is an important part of her education, especially since she isn't too interested in academics and is likely to find herself working full-time sooner rather than later. Part-time jobs for teens aren't just about earning a bit of pocket money.

Saracen Sun 16-Mar-14 09:52:48

Oh, forgot to say: when I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grew up (computer programming), I did a few Open University courses and evening courses at a local university. I personally knew I had the aptitude for my intended career, but felt it would be handy to be able to demonstrate to prospective employers that I had the ability and interest. That worked a treat. I didn't land a job as a programmer, but on the basis of my previous jobs and those courses, I did get hired by a fabulous small software company to work as a manager. There I had the chance to demonstrate that I could do the technical work too, and ended up in a job I loved.

StrawberryCheese Sun 16-Mar-14 10:09:05

My route from education to employment was quite straightforward. Studied hard for GCSEs, with Art & Design being my main focus. Went on to do A Levels, which apart from Art & Design again, the others were a bit pointless and I didn't do that well. Then I did a National Diploma in Art & Design, a stepping stone to university. Gained a degree in Graphic Design and now 6 years after graduating I am in the same job I started with... which is in graphic design. I worked part time throughout that whole education too and that, together with the way I was brought up, instilled a good mindset when it came to managing my money.

I didn't have any gap periods in between all of that, in fact there was an overlap between finishing uni and starting my job. That's my biggest regret, no time away from education, I think that is a really important thing for developing life skills.

ThreeTomatoes Sun 16-Mar-14 12:01:26

Thank you. I couldn't agree more Saracen. There certainly was not enough work experience or experience out in the world for me when I was at school. In fact, I left school feeling like it was 'us vs the world', that there was no place for me - or us as teenagers - that the world / system was stacked against u (at least, for those of us who did not want to follow the status quo academically). I am so excited by the prospect that this really doesn't have to be the case, and that I can show dd a different world.

stargirl1701 Sun 16-Mar-14 12:05:20

I wanted to be a teacher from a young age.

I got my Standard Grades, I got my 5 Highers, I had fun in 6th year with 3 CSYS qualifications. I took a gap year. I went to University and got my degree. I started teaching. I still teach 15 years later.

ThreeTomatoes Sun 16-Mar-14 12:11:11

Just to add, I think the system maybe works for people who have a very clear path and goal, especially an academic one - e.g. for Strawberry who seems to have been single-minded re Art & Design grin and for TeenandTween who went into science. As a teen, and adult retrospectively later on, I was so envious of those who knew what they 'wanted to be', it stressed me out so much not knowing. I still sometimes wish I knew and worry about the future, time running out etc etc, but I'm starting to get to a place where I am learning to be happy in the moment - my job is fairly boring, but it pays the bills and they're super flexible & lovely people to work for, I work mainly from home and they allow me to fit it around my life instead of the other way round, I'm studying something I'm fascinated by with the OU (and will hopefully one day get around to getting involved in some related work, or at least voluntary work!), and I'm now able to play a fuller part in dd's education and am so looking forward to learning lots alongside her.

This article describes exactly the legacy school left me, that is only recently, over 20 years later, starting to dissipate, and only because I've done lots of reading recently & thinking 'outside the box' about this.

cory Tue 18-Mar-14 07:42:52

Thinking about my own dc, I think the great thing school has done for ds has been to help him discover an interest in something he didn't know he'd be interested in and that nobody at home would have thought of doing with him. Before that he was very negative about his future ("no point in my trying, I'm not clever, I just want to work as little as possible because I hate making an effort").

He still doesn't know what he wants to do but having a passionate and supportive teacher who keeps telling him he can achieve has made a massive difference to him. Of course I could fake an interest, but he'd know I was faking. Getting to spend time with somebody who has cared enough to make it his career is a big thing for ds.

As for dd, school has definitely been crucial in helping her to know what she wanted to do (drama). They spotted her talent and entered her for competitions and shows. I did help by signing her up for youth theatre, but I am not sure that on its own would have been enough. She is now doing mainly theatrical stuff in Sixth Form and planning to apply for stage school.

wordfactory Tue 18-Mar-14 08:40:52

I think it's a mistake to think about education as being directly applicable to day to day life/work...

So much of it is about honing skills and developing the intellect. That can never be a waste.

TheArticFunky Tue 18-Mar-14 08:53:10

My secondary schooling was a complete waste of time and did nothing to prepare me for the world of work or life in general. I was very academic at primary school, a bit of a "swot".

Unfortunately I was sent to what was the worst school in the country and I decided early on that in order to fit in I had to do as little as possible. I left school with awful results which was not surprising as I did no work at all and didn't even hand coursework in for the majority of subjects. Despite this I was actually fairly ambitious and always knew that I wanted to study and achieve.

I was extremely lucky to gain an Apprenticeship at a very large company. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time, having a relative who already worked there who put in a good word for me and the interviewers deciding to give me a chance. It also helped that I was prepared to work for peanuts as most of my peer group were working in low skilled cleaning and factory jobs earning 5 x what I was earning but with zero prospects.

My Apprenticeship prepared me very well for work. I was given excellent training, mentoring and responsibility from day one.

ThreeTomatoes Tue 18-Mar-14 10:38:03

wordfactory - "I think it's a mistake to think about education as being directly applicable to day to day life/work..." I beg to differ. There is a really interesting discussion to be had here I think. What with all the reading I've done recently I'm viewing education in a completely different way. Here's how the online dictionary defines 'education':

"the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life."

Now, I would have thought that opinions on what the above should actually entail differs depending on who you are. IMO, the 'knowledge' spoken of ought to depend entirely on the talents, interests, and future (which is impossible to know, of course) of the individual undergoing education. (Whereas schooling has a 'one size fits all' approach.) The 'powers of reasoning and judgment' can be applied to most of what we do or experience or learn. Preparation for mature life? well, here's what I feel are essential for preparation for future life and will be trying my damndest to 'teach' dd (in hopefully a way that isn't forcing it on her against her will as that would be counter-productive):

- Cooking (and yet, many people can't really cook, but they survived...)
- Budgeting/managing money/banking (plenty don't, but I think they take a big risk not doing this)
- Health/nutrition etc (it's sort of impossible to grow up not being fed something about this, though)
- Sex & relationships stuff - red flags etc wink
- Travel (esp as we live in London) - how to get about, how travelcards/Oysters etc work/reading maps/tube maps etc.
- A certain amount of maths, relative to every day life (e.g. money, measuring, percentages etc)
- Managing the internet/internet safety
- And the more vague notion of 'confidence', 'self esteem', etc - more crucial than anything else I believe, and something that is so easily broken down at school and indeed at home. Lack of confidence is probably the biggest barrier to 'success' in terms of being happy and in achieving your own goals...

Other than the above, everything else is non-essential (tell me if I've not thought of something!) and can be tailored to the individual, and I believe that as long as one is doing/learning right now what is of interest or is going towards something one currently wants to do in the future, one will hone skills (including the 'powers of reasoning and judgment') that will set one up for anything they may embark on in the future. There is a far, far bigger picture than what we call 'education' - there is a whole world that 'education' has to fit into, and i really don't think schooling is doing it well for many.

cory That sounds great for your ds and dd. I would suggest though that your ds started out with the attitude you describe because of schooling in the first place. He's lucky to have an inspiring teacher and to have found something he's passionate about. Likewise your dd. It just didn't work out that way for me, I think school closed off lots of options for me. My 'talent' was music but i was resentful because all my classmates had tons of help with coursework (compositions and so on) while my teacher made me do mine all by myself, several of us got As but as you can imagine it just felt completely meaningless. Meanwhile, I had to do all the other subjects most of which I couldn't give a monkeys about, I couldn't do History which I would have wanted to do because it was in the same options group as music, and my parents made me choose French when I actually wanted to do Child Dev. from that group. I was really mostly interested in people in those days (esp those with problems) (hence Child Dev.), but subjects that I might have been interested in weren't available at my school at the time (sociology, psychology, philosophy spring to mind - i did do psychology A level but failed it because it wasn't what i expected and i missed a lot of the classes, lost interest quickly - had i done it at GCSE i might have been better prepared, or known not to choose it!). A level music (which was in fact part of a bigger music course I did) was better - I met my match as kids who really were musical and a lot of whom were far more advanced than I were on the course, I also had to learn piano properly (i'd taught myself from a young age up to that point) and learnt loads, got really good, so for that I am grateful. Loved putting on the musicals we did at school, absolutely adored 'theatre', I went to every rehearsal even ones i was not involved in, but nobody had the initiative to help me find out if there were opportunities outside school to get involved in, that could continue beyond school. cory your dd is lucky in that respect by the sounds of it. smile

Everything I did was confined to school and did not carry over into real life - outside school involved simply going to friends' houses, cinema, family holidays etc. Can't blame anyone for that, school & h/w takes up a lot of time! But to conclude, I would have thought 'education' ought to happen 'in real life', outside a school building, if it is to prepare oneself properly for 'mature' life, surely?

TheArticFunky -sounds a bit similar to my story, although my school was a good school and I did well despite trying not to work much! grin Followed by a job gained through a connection with a relative! But you know, lots of jobs are gained (or available to you) through connections made, something that is more possible to do if you're home ed.

PS - I'm sorry if I sound like I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder about schooling, I guess I have, but I know that this is my own experience and that it has been invaluable for many!

cory Tue 18-Mar-14 17:18:50

OP, I didn't mean that everybody had to have had the same experience of school as I did. The same stimulation could equally come from somewhere else. School was just an example.

What I meant was that for both dc it was important to have a counterweight to the relatively narrow environment of their own home, something wider and different (and sometimes ever so slightly at odds with what dh and I are and do and are about).

So if I was going to home school, I would see that as my challenge and task: to try to provide a wider frame of reference than could be provided by our home and our circle of friends.

I would hope to be able to bring dc in touch with a wide range of different people, who might introduce them to different interests- not just the kind of people I like and get on with, or who share my interests.

I feel that even more because I grew up in a very academic and highbrow family- and tbh it was a bit restrictive. I needed contact with people and attitudes and interests that would never have made it across our front door, in order to find out who I was. School was one way of providing that. But I am sure there could have been other ways.

ThreeTomatoes Tue 18-Mar-14 17:53:12

cory I couldn't agree more, I will be tapping into all the resources outside home that I can smile

I just read this article, it needs no comment really. sad

cory Wed 19-Mar-14 12:35:57

Mind you, Tomatoes, if my dd were to write an account of the times when I tried to educated her at home (health reasons) I don't think it would be much cheerier: we both hated the experience.

But then we would neither of us have chosen it- and that makes the whole difference. Something that is forced upon you, though you know it is wrong for the person you are, is totally different from something you have chosen because you feel it is right.

ThreeTomatoes Thu 20-Mar-14 07:02:15

Very true!

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 20-Mar-14 07:37:34

I am 46 and have worked since I was 19, after going to college at 16. I did engineering, then went into management and training and have studied something for nearly every year of my working life. I am currently on my fourth degree/L5 qual. I currently teach in Mostly SEN college and have my own business teaching groups of high risk (mainly) lads.

What skills people need are life skills, related to where they are going to live, and what they want to do. Everything from how to change a light bulb to how to decide which bank account will give them the best return, to how to cook from basic ingredients.

holmessweetholmes Thu 20-Mar-14 07:53:24

I have never left education! GCSEs, A Levels, university, PGCE, then have been teaching for nearly 20 years. I think the transition from education to working life is less to do with how you were prepared by school and more about how you were prepared by your parents to deal with living independently tbh.

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