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applying to university post A Levels - help!

(17 Posts)
BrendaBlackhead Thu 22-Jan-15 12:53:32

Ds is an August birthday and is in Year 12.

All the talk at the moment is of university and which course and where etc etc. Ds is a clever boy, but very young for his age and has no clue whatsoever what he may want to study. He likes academic work, but has more of a scattergun approach and likes a bit of everything rather than having a "passion" (hate that word). After all, he is only 16. He also has anxiety issues which we are trying to deal with.

Having just drifted off to university at 18 myself with no particular interest in the subject, I want to guide ds appropriately - especially given the fees (aaggh).

Is there any support for a post A Level application from a school? He is also not the type to want to go on a gap yah but would obviously need to do something "improving". I am a bit clueless as to how to help him.

Littleham Thu 22-Jan-15 15:08:21

Some ideas....

It depends on finances & where you live doesn't it? In principle a gap year is an excellent idea for someone who is still undecided and young for his age. It would avoid the problem of dropping out due to a hasty decision or immaturity. The application process would be much easier with 'known' grades too.

However, if you live in an isolated area with no jobs & little public transport, then it could all get very expensive and boring. Not everyone can afford a gap year. If he can find a job, he could work / submit the application and save enough to travel when he has firmed a university around spring time.

Alternatively, it might be possible to find schemes that give exposure to other countries. I'm sure there must be other similar opportunities out there.
eg. The Rotary club runs trips / schemes

Support for post A Level applicants is dependent on your school. It would be trickier to arrange as he wouldn't be there all the time to meet personal tutors / referees, so I would suggest you ask your school if they would be prepared to help.

titchy Thu 22-Jan-15 15:44:15

The main problem I can see is that he'd finish exams in June, get results in August, then have to apply that autumn which doesn't give much of a chance for deciding - if he's uncertain now what's going to change by next year?

But as a principle it's a good one. He needs to talk to his college so they are aware they'll have to write him a reference.

ManyMayhem Thu 22-Jan-15 17:11:45

It's really tricky when they don't know what they want to do. I don't think it's unusual though. Has he booked to go on some open days? They might help get him thinking and inspire him. You could also order some uni prospectuses for him to flick through.
There is nothing wrong with taking a gap year and not doing a grand ,gap yah' adventure - a year working in the local supermarket or whatever is useful. Far better to take you time and be sure of what you want yo do.
It really normal to apply post results. It makes the application procedure much simpler and much less stressful. It takes out the guess work.

The schools are used to it and I 'think' it's normal for them to provide references etc.

If your son isn't able to pinpoint something then he could look at duel honours degrees or degrees with very general first years. DD2 isn't really sure what she wants to do so has choosen a subject she enjoys (maths) without having a career in mind. It's not the best plan but she can't magic up a dream career. At least with a maths degree she should have a wide choice of options after Uni.

If your son is very academic then any good degree from a top uni (Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick etc) would still open lots and lots of doors for him.

I get a bit fed up with all the 'passion' talk too. It's fantastic when DC have something they can be 'passionate' about but it's unrealistic to think they all will.

Your DS can always go through the UCAS application process in year 13 for subjects he thinks he 'might' like and then with drawer his application if he is still unsure. He doesn't have to use all five choices straight away.

BrendaBlackhead Thu 22-Jan-15 17:40:09

Thanks for the ideas.

It seems everyone else is fixed on a career idea from the age of 8.

BirdintheWings Fri 23-Jan-15 10:49:26

he'd finish exams in June, get results in August, then have to apply that autumn which doesn't give much of a chance for deciding

well, not quite.

He'd find out his results in August, then have until about 6 pm on 15th Jan the following year to put in his application. not that DS left it till 5:55 last Wednesday, definitely not

bruffin Fri 23-Jan-15 11:29:27

There will be plenty of time. DS didnt get the results he wanted this year, decided not to go through clearing and has stayed on at school as an unofficial pupil. He is not really on their records, but gets to go to classes for the exams he is retaking and even helps out teaching in some classes. His UCAS went in about 13th january this year and has had 3 offers already and waiting on another 2.
Just remember that a lot of unis have open days in the summer and then again in the autumn term. It may be worth just going to look at one or two then, just to get a feel etc looking at various departments to see if they inspire him.
DD is year 12, but knows what she wants to do and making a list of open days already.

ManyMayhem Fri 23-Jan-15 11:47:38

Wow, sorry for the millions of typos in my earlier post. blush

I'm not usually that bad. Honest!

ISingSoprano Fri 23-Jan-15 18:14:47

I would definitely recommend going to a few open days to look at the sorts of subjects that would be available to him based on his A levels. Once you (he) starts looking the more ideas he will develop.

eatyourveg Fri 23-Jan-15 21:08:00

What about spending the year in school as a learning mentor helping out with the younger pupils - that way he still gets the contact with the teachers for the references and help in deciding which course and institution to consider. Any potential anxiety issues exacerbated by a change in environment would be negated as school would remain the constant.

Has the school done anything like a Morrisby test to establish what types of career may suit?

WorkingItOutAsIGo Sat 24-Jan-15 11:41:48

First your DS may be clever, but he shouldn't feel he had to rush to university just because everyone else is - the point is to study something and if there is nothing he wants to study it might be pointless.

Having said which, studying in the us might suit better as you start very broad.

And having said all that, my late august DS did exactly this and applied after his results and it was so brilliant for him. He was able to concentrate on his studies and then having done the full two years of his course was able to reflect much more maturely on what he wanted to do and made quite a different choice than he would have done before. It was much easier to apply with his results too and lovely to get unconditional offers!

He is loving his course and so happy to be 19 not barely 18. So I would say a million times yes to your DS delaying!

RandomFriend Sat 24-Jan-15 12:14:57

I would approach it from the other direction, and try to think of which might be good universities and courses for him to apply to. For example,

1. Which A-level subjects is he doing? Depending on these, this would narrow the range of courses he could apply to.

2. How are his GCSE results? If he has ten A*'s, this would suggest a particular group of universities. If he has a range of A's and B's, a different group. If he has just five GCSE's, then a different range again.

3. Where does he want to live? Does he have one or two universities/towns that he would particularly like to go to? For example, if there are a couple of university towns or campuses that are around two or three hours away, these could be good candidates.

When you combine the answers to questions 1, 2 and 3 above, there might be some obvious choices that stand out as good ones to apply to. Of course, as pps have suggested, some visits are good. I would suggest at this stage visiting any university that is close to you, just to inspire in DS the idea that going to university is going to be fun and something to look forward to in a couple of years.

It may be a good idea to delay starting uni as others have suggested, but it might be an idea to put in an application this year along with his year group. That way, he can get the school to write his references at the normal time when he is around.

For each of the five applications that he makes via UCAS, he has to state explicitly whether he wants to start in September 2016 or 2017. It is possible to choose 2016 for some courses and 2017 for others. It is possible to apply for two different courses and two different years. And finally, nothing is committed - if he puts in an application, he will know what sort of offers he can get and if he wants to apply again next year, the PS and reference are ready.

BrendaBlackhead Sat 24-Jan-15 15:06:01

Thanks for that good advice.

He is on track for v good A Level grades so far but no counting of chickens of course.

One of the problems is that he looks so young. Various people have expressed astonishment that he is 16. And all this adds to the fact that I don't think university would be a positive experience for him yet. He's not going to attract many girls - or be allowed in any bars! (Not that university is about that of course...)

Bonsoir Sat 24-Jan-15 17:08:49

There are some great low-cost gap year opportunities that are particularly good for students who feel a bit young for university - how about going to NZ or Australia or South Africa to work in a boarding school? Or being an au pair (and male au pairs are definitely wanted) for a rich family in a European capital and learning a new language?

HocusUcas Sat 24-Jan-15 17:12:43

Brenda ,
If it helps a friend of mine has been through the same thing. Her son is also August birthday and also young for his age. After much thought , their decision was that he would not apply at all in Year 13. He and she both thought that in applying Yr 13 there was too great a chance he would just "plump" for something and not really have thought it through . She would rather he had another year to think . Of course it is equally valid to apply anyway and then withdraw , but just a view. The same as Working said in fact. At DS's school if they are applying post A levels they can email their PS and the school will write their reference, but obviously how they handle it is a question for your DS's particular school. I think Littleham's comments are spot on about what he would do in the year off, and whether your / his priorities are furthering his academic stuff , getting a job to save up for university , or some wider experience which will help him mature (or indeed a combination).
Good luck whatever you decide , This post is just to reinforce that you are not alone in the situation. Once my friend and her son had made the decision she felt a huge sense of relief that the pressure was off for a while and therefore better able to make a plan for DS which suited him.

MillyMollyMama Sat 24-Jan-15 17:30:22

My DD is a late August birthday and unless he was thinking of going a year early, he will get into the Bars!!! You just take ID. He will be 18 when he starts university, won't he? Having said that, I would delay if you can because he seems to need to grow up a bit first. My DD was super mature for her age and nothing phased her and she knew what she wanted to do! Must be a boy thing - indecision!!!???

BirdintheWings Mon 26-Jan-15 08:41:23

Applying and then withdrawing from an offer in the bag is quite hard to do, psychologically speaking (just been there, done that, with DS1...)

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