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How do A levels in Latin, Classical Greek, French and Music look on a university application?

(25 Posts)
duchesse Sat 13-Apr-13 00:26:57

DD has a music scholarship for 6th form at her present school which is sort of granted on the understanding that she'll do music A level. She would rather do history though, and is a bit worried about doing Music A level as she prefers performing to composing. She gives a lot of time already in performance to the school and has done throughout her time there, and doesn't want to do music at university.

Where does that selection of A levels look as though she's heading to you? (just wondering what admissions tutors will see)

boomting Sat 13-Apr-13 03:42:43

Clearly languages are her thing, though that combination will fit her for many essay based subjects. They're all rigorous subjects and won't hold her back unless she wants to do sciences or a subject where the A Level in that subject is required.

How about doing Classics? There are also some courses that combine history, culture and languages (an initio or otherwise) eg middle eastern studies. Obviously there are also joint honours courses out there and one of the most common combinations out there is to have a language + something else. Alternatively she could potentially go a little off piste into the social sciences. If she was to think of doing the latter then she could consider swapping a language for history to broaden her skill base, though I suspect it's not strictly necessary.

I would suggest that she starts surfing uni / UCAS websites to see what subjects are out there and subjects she needs for each.

sashh Sat 13-Apr-13 07:34:58

Well she's not going to be a Dr or an engineer but those are good subjects for a lot of courses.

Although she is not doing history A Level Latin and classical Greek would be good for history/archeology.

She could study another language from scratch at uni. Linguistics is another option, I only did a couple of sociolinguistics units ay uni but they were fascinating.

BellsaRinging Sat 13-Apr-13 07:52:47

I studied law with similar a-levels (minus the music). I would think that any university would consider her for law with good grades in them.

eatyourveg Sat 13-Apr-13 08:36:38

ds1 had a music scholarship and we were worried he might have to do A level to keep it. Do ask the school or look at the T&C for the award. we found that as long as ds1 took a full and active part in the goings on within the music department he could keep it. You need to ask the question.

I think however music sits well with her other choices (for AS anyway)

creamteas Sat 13-Apr-13 12:53:39

These A levels could be brilliant or absolutely rubbish depending on what she wants to do next.

If she wants to go down the classics, French or Music route then great.

But if she is not sure what she want to do then I would suggest possibly doing just one of Latin and Greek and replacing it with something that would keep more options open like English or History.

We would think twice before offering a place on any of our social science courses with that particular range of A levels.

YokoUhOh Sat 13-Apr-13 13:03:54

I did two of those four A-levels (French, Music) and studied music at Oxford. All four of those A-levels are very challenging and I'd be surprised if your DD struggled to get offers for any subject (she could even do a medicine conversion course).

I teach A-level music and it's extremely taxing (you have to be a strong performer, essay writer, composer and have an excellent ear in order to get a higher grade). I'm not sure that all admissions tutors recognise this, though.

ouryve Sat 13-Apr-13 13:06:47

If she wants to be a doctor, then they'd be useless wink That's clearly not the case, though. If she'd rather take history, then she should, though, as this would open her up to a wider choice of classical and linguistic based courses at university.

duchesse Sat 13-Apr-13 13:21:21

Thing is, she wants to apply for Classics at a number of universities including Cambridge. I've been alarmed to read that Cambridge consider Music not to be a facilitating subject, and was wondering whether the other 3 would balance them out or whether she needs to go with her instinct and pick history instead of music.

creamteas Sat 13-Apr-13 14:56:41

Cambridge specifically mentions that music might be a suitable subject for some of their courses, so I have no idea where you got this misinformation from.

See here

bombyxmori Sat 13-Apr-13 15:12:48

Where has this obsession with facilitating subjects sprung from? It's on another thread too.

Yellowtip Sat 13-Apr-13 15:31:03

MN has been obsessed with facilitating subjects since the Russell Group published its list.

Duchesse if she wants to do History, she should do History and let the scholarship go. Does the scholarship make much difference financially, so much so that she needs it to continue at the school? If not, I'd let her bin it and do the subject she wants. The fact that she's musical will always stand her in good stead but the scholarship adds very little in UCAS terms, if anything. What she thinks she'll enjoy is the thing.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 13-Apr-13 15:38:57

From what I know of classics tutors (I did a Classics PhD so know quite a few and have taught undergrads, though never done admissions) they would be fine with music as one of the four. As a subject it is wonderfully open to interdisciplinarity and tends to value the fact that students tend to come from a range of backgrounds. Music might even make her stand out, even though obviously history is more directly relevant.

All that is by the by, though, if she WANTS to do history and is worried about the music. She should do what she enjoys and thinks she can do well in.

duchesse Sat 13-Apr-13 15:41:19

Yellow, un/fortunately the scholarship makes the difference between going and staying at her present school for us financially and since she can't do Latin and Greek anywhere else in the SW but where she is now (barring self-study and private tutoring) she has to stay really.

bombyxmori Sat 13-Apr-13 15:42:14

So, quoting from relevant doc: "Many courses at university level build on knowledge which you will gain while still at school. Where this is the case, universities need to make sure that all the students they admit have prepared themselves in the best way to cope with their chosen course. For this reason, some university courses may require you to have studied a specific subject prior to entry, others may not. However, there are some subjects that are required more often than others. These subjects are sometimes referred to as facilitating subjects."

Nowhere does it say that you have to fill up your options with facilitating subjects. It just says they are required more often than others. Useful if you don't know what you want to do, unnecessary if you do. If the course you want to do has, say, two required subjects at the kind of universities you are likely to apply for, and a bunch of useful/helpful ones, aren't you better to pick your final two ASs from those rather than 'facilitating' ones? Or if you're brave, ignore that and pick others that you like and are good at?

bombyxmori Sat 13-Apr-13 15:45:23

Looks like OP's DD's hands are tied though. Hope it works out. (Could she swap French with History or is she wedded to French?)

senua Sat 13-Apr-13 15:51:33

Where has this obsession with facilitating subjects sprung from?

Don't forget that schools have a vested interest these days. They get judged on "% of KS5 students achieving 3 A levels at AAB in facilitating subjects" and "% of KS5 students achieving 3 A levels at AAB or higher, of which at least 2 are in facilitating subjects."

The concept of telling students about facilitating subjects is good - it makes a level playing field, telling everyone what, previously, only a privileged few knew. As with all these things, it has got twisted from its original purpose.

Back to OP: I remember from years ago a friend's DD doing lots of languages. She almost had a meltdown from the amount of vocab she was supposed to memorise. Can't remember if it was A Level or UG <not v. helpful>

TunipTheVegedude Sat 13-Apr-13 15:51:51

French would also be useful for Classics though.

Thing is with Classics, it covers so many subjects (history, literature, philosophy, art history, archaeology) that they can't require everyone to have a grounding in all the disciplines it involves. It's a different kettle of fish from, say, maths or science, where it's fairly clear what you need to have done at school to be able to read it at university.

Also, there might be little bits of history in her Latin or Greek, if she does historical authors (I did Tacitus for my A level Latin and probably learnt more about critical reading of sources from that than from my History A level).

Yellowtip Sat 13-Apr-13 15:52:34

Fair enough. You've said which school it is before now duchesse and I bet that school won't take away a scholarship and risk losing a high achiever simply because she wants to do History rather than Music, and for very sound reasons. It's not as though she's withdrawing her contribution from the musical life of the school. If she was wanting to study Medicine she might well not have the extra capacity to take music as an option, so I expect they've seen it before. I'd think it highly likely that you can call the shots! If it were me I'd write down Latin, Greek, French and History on the options sheet and when challenged explain that you need the scholarship to remain. They can always convert it to a non subject related bursary in any event smile

StoicButStressed Sat 13-Apr-13 15:53:48

Only saw thread as 'active' (not meant to be on MN - am away!) but can't NOT reply. Unless her scholarship is 100% legally watertight on she 'must' do music, I would def swop music for history - i) she obviously wants to, and she will do way better at something she WANTS to do; ii) is no guarentee she WILL drop one of the four at AS (my DS didn't); iii) competition Oxbridge wise is INSANE so you/she have NO choice but to think of that now whilst she makes these choices.

For what it's worth, my DS sits Latin, Maths, Further Maths, Economics A'level's very soon but has already secured his offer from Oxford. For him, Latin is (obv) the one that shows him to more 'rounded' than the obvious skill-set of the other 3; and the place he got was one of only THREE avail even tho obv ALL who had been invited to interview were obv pretty ace in his subject of choice... Am certain Latin helped him (as well as his interview prowess, is a bit of a dude!), just as suspect History may well help your DD more than Music (albeit 'rounding' the other way round IYKWIM?!) In haste but hope helps.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 13-Apr-13 15:54:10

I agree with Yellowtip. It's worth a try, at least.

bombyxmori Sat 13-Apr-13 16:06:18

OP's DC aside, because she'd rather not do music, it's a sad world where high-achieving students are persuaded to drop subjects like music and art because they aren't 'facilitating' subjects. What have we come to?

Yellowtip Sat 13-Apr-13 16:10:30

Those students should stick to their guns bombyxmori.

slipshodsibyl Sat 13-Apr-13 17:57:13

Have you talked to the school. (Sorry if you have said this -and I have missed it).

I cannot imagine that a school would insist on a scholar taking A Level Music if her heart is elsewhere - it's in no one's interests. Usually they are required to contribute to the musical life of the school but not to take up an A Level slot.

babytrasher Sat 13-Apr-13 22:26:12

Sounds weird but classical linguists are much in demand for computer programming, and at the more interesting and highly-paid machine-code / compliler end of the spectrum, not the "just do it with Excel" end. This is because classical lanuages (at the elite literary level, which is all we really know, rather than the common oral level) are follow logical, rule-based structures with few irregularities (apparently). confused

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