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Better than expected A level results - now so confused, help!

(56 Posts)
mindgone Fri 16-Aug-13 13:59:28

I never expected this problem, and would never have expected it to be such a difficult one!
DS has ABB offer for pharmacy in a RG uni
Yesterday got A*A*A.
Loves chemistry, and is now wondering about chemical engineering, because a couple of his friends are doing it, and he always thought it sounded great, but assumed it was beyond his reach.
Yesterday, he rang the chem eng dept of the same uni that offered him pharmacy, and someone (I think the HoD) said that with those grades they would definitely take him. He said he would think about it, but was warned to make a quick decision.
He is now in a real dilemma! He is swinging between taking pharmacy, taking chem eng in a hurry, and taking a year out to re think everything.

Any advice greatly appreciated. Especially as he drives me mad a lot of the time, and I think I was looking forward to a more peaceful year without treading on eggshells every day! But of course, he is my son, I love him very much, and will support him in any way I can.


alreadytaken Mon 19-Aug-13 11:38:52

if he is concerned about employment prospects how about a 4 year course in chemistry like this one? or go to Bath where they have a good record of getting people into employment and excellent sports facilities

There are courses around that combine Chemistry and Chemical engineering

He might find a place at other universities this year with his grades but a gap year and a few months thinking about what he really wants might help.

madamginger Mon 19-Aug-13 11:50:38

As a pharmacist, the locum market is already near saturation. Rates of pay have been slashed and targets are raised. Its very much an employers market. And its going to get worse.

Changebagsandgladrags Mon 19-Aug-13 13:09:28

Could he take a physics course during his gap year? Or some further maths? Maybe something at Birkbeck if you are near London or at the OU.

Boosiehs Mon 19-Aug-13 16:08:51

I did a chemistry degree at RG uni, and found that I really needed the physics a level. It's far more necessary for uni level chemistry than A level.

chemenger Mon 19-Aug-13 18:17:28

Boosiehs that's really interesting. If you don't mind me asking, which parts of physics did you find helpful? It's the sort of thing I end up talking about at open days (lots of applicants deciding between Chemistry and Chem Eng, as you might imagine) and I have to admit to knowing not a lot about chemistry at university level (or remembering much about school physics.

sanam2010 Mon 19-Aug-13 19:20:31

Why doesn't he go for a Chemistry degree? There is a huge shortage of top candidates in Chemistry. I have a friend who got into Cambridge PhD programme in Chemistry from non-RG uni and he did extremely well. It's a fascinating field where he could get into really state of the art research. Might be an even better idea than the chem engineering course.

mindgone Tue 20-Aug-13 00:42:38

Thanks all, some really interesting points and ideas. He has now contacted the pharmacy uni and given up his place! He will research chemistry related degrees, and see what appeals, and open days too. He is thinking of doing some kind of course to keep his brain in gear, quite possibly some physics. Interesting that you think this would be a big help Boosiehs. Any other ideas for useful study related to chemistry?
He passed his driving test last week too (a big week all round!), so I guess now that he's planning on being around for another year, we'll have to think about a car, so he can get to jobs etc independently.

alreadytaken Tue 20-Aug-13 07:39:55

another university with placement courses, good student satisfaction ratings and good numbers finding jobs

May even be vacancies still for 2013 for Chemistry students with grades like your sons, maybe not on tht course

mynameisnotmichaelcaine Tue 20-Aug-13 07:45:29

Aww bless you both. This happened to me. I had a CCD offer for English at an ex-poly and got AAB (back in the days when those were good grades! ;)) I took a year out and did English at Oxford in the end. It turned out to be a great decision, I had time and space to make the best choice for me.

I temped for a year in a REALLY boring job, and it was the best thing ever for making me motivated to study at uni - no way did I want a job that dull ever again!

mindgone Tue 20-Aug-13 12:36:20

Alreadytaken, thank you so much, will def get him to look into that one.
Mynameisnotmichaelcaine, thanks, it's good to know someone who's been through this too, and come out the other side! I haven't told many people what he got, just that he got his offer but is now undecided. But the people who do know think its great, and don't realise that it's actually quite a dilemma, and really tough decisions have to be made in a short space of time. He knows he should be over the moon, but everything is upside down for a while. And next we have DS2's GCSE results on Thursday! Poor boy coming after those results! At least we know what he's doing for the next two years, unless he spectacularly messes up!

Boosiehs Tue 20-Aug-13 13:11:27

I found that chemistry was far more hard science than A level. Lots of quantitative stuff for which maths is essential, and a lot of quantum mechanics.

The traditional organic and inorganic chemistry, and the experimentation was full on too. 12 hours labs a week, plus another 12-16 hours lectures and tutorials.

I'd say that a physics ourse this year, possibly just with a tutor, plus keeping up with chemistry knowledge wold stand him in really good stead. Any uni will bite his hand off! Try imperial as a start, or apply to Oxbridge? Manchester and UCL are v good. I went to Durham and had a brilliant time.

Mumzy Tue 20-Aug-13 20:56:42

Agree with everything Boosieh says about degree level chemistry compared to A level. A pure science degree such as chemistry can be very abstract and people study it of the pure love of the subject or does he want to do something more applied like mechanical engineering or colour chemistry. Agree he should take his time to research the courses properly ( even if it means taking a gap year) and find a course which he's most suited to

cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 02:40:10

no no not pharmacy

go with chemical engineering if he is sure he wants to attend that uni, or take a year out

cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 02:42:35

just seen he has decided, think it's a smart choice. I would suggest maths/physics extra study to keep fresh

cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 02:44:38

can do some OU bits if he wants

also remember the oxb. and med deadline is October on ucas so he'll need to think by then where he would like to apply. If it were me I'd be applying to my chosen course at oxford,cardiff,bath,imperial. + wherever

cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 02:44:53


cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 02:45:25


RichManPoorManBeggarmanThief Thu 22-Aug-13 03:34:51

Dh did chemical engineering for his undergrad. He's an investment banker having joined a grad scheme after uni. The good thing about chem eng is that it's seen as a good, solid academic subject by grad scheme employers in finance, consultancy etc. as well as for degree-specific roles.

cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 03:54:27

places at Birmingham in clearing for this year if he does an about turn here

cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 03:57:53

or even here

cafecito Thu 22-Aug-13 03:58:55

(still think a year out is better)

zizza Thu 22-Aug-13 07:46:11

Good on him for taking a brave decision and good luck to both of your for the coming year! He has so many options open to him with those results, it's worth him taking his time (there's actually not that much time really as he'll be applying again before you know it). And if he can earn some decent money this year that'll really help :-)

I was going to ask if he'd ever thought of being a vet with those subjects - but he'd have to apply very soon and hasn't got the work experience behind him.

chemenger Thu 22-Aug-13 07:57:28

One last word of advice. If he decides on something with a strong maths content then he should revise his A-level maths materials for a month or so before the start of university. It seems that maths evaporates much more than other subjects, I think because it is skill based as well as knowledge based and lack of practice really holds people back after a year out.

mindgone Fri 23-Aug-13 00:59:00

Thank you all so much, you've all been so helpful and supportive!
Cafecito, do you have inside knowledge of pharmacy by any chance?
And chemenger, he has already started practicing his maths!
Zizza, he is a little nervous of animals!
He is applying for all sorts of jobs now to keep himself going, also has a list of open days to go to. All seems brighter this week! DS2 did very well in his GCSEs too, so def a happy week! Off to France tomorrow, so will check in when back, don't know if we have wi fi. Thanks again all, your wisdom and experience is much appreciated smile

Almostfifty Sun 01-Sep-13 15:46:25

Has he looked at doing a Year in Industry? It's a way of getting a bit of money together before he goes to Uni, and also a way of learning about the industry he might want to work in.

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