Help needed please! Geog or History degree?

(57 Posts)
Horsemad Sat 10-Sep-16 09:53:32

DS is applying for 2017. He is studying Maths, Geog & History. Is reasonably good at all 3 but has no 'passion' for any of them.

AS results were AAC (C in Geog which was a surprise as he put a lot of work in but wasn't far off a B).
For background, he got A at GCSE for Geog & A* for History.

Doesn't know what he wants to do. Doesn't want a gap year.
Had been considering Geog after visiting several open days. Is now undecided whether to do Geog or History and is a bit 'rabbit in the headlights' as he needs to write a PS and doesn't know which subject he will apply for!

I think his C in Geog has made him reconsider but not sure what to advise him.

Any ideas please?

OP’s posts: |
gallicgirl Sat 10-Sep-16 09:55:30

He needs to think about what career he would like and which subject he would need to enter that career.

What would he do with a history or geography degree?

Is there a degree which might encompass a couple of subjects, environmental science for example?

Timeforabiscuit Sat 10-Sep-16 10:01:28

If he has no "passion" university is going to be very, very difficult - not because of his ability, his grades are ace, but you MUST self start.

What does he do outside of school?

Horsemad Sat 10-Sep-16 10:06:46

Oh he's very disciplined, very competitive a great team player. Likes both subjects a lot, just isn't 'obsessed' (for want of a better word) with either.

But then, I doubt many who go to Uni are that 'passionate' either, and most of them do reasonably well!

OP’s posts: |
Timeforabiscuit Sat 10-Sep-16 10:16:01

Sorry op, did you go to university yourself, it just that your last line just doesnt chime with my experience of higher education? In my freshers year, around a quarter of my hall quit or changed course by Christmas.

If you go to university because its the default option of what you do next, and you're generally not fussed about your subject, you run the real risk of getting distracted, pissing up the first term then panicking and bailing " as it wasnt your thing anyway".

If its a case of any degree at any price and you can support failed years and retakes, then no you dont need passion. But its an expensive way to go about it.

Horsemad Sat 10-Sep-16 10:26:00

I didn't, DH did.

My opinions are based on friends' DC. Some were absolutely passionate about their subject (DH was and still is) but some went because they recognised they needed a degree to get a 'decent' job. They did well enough, came out with respectable results.

I fully take on board what you say about the drop out rates though.

If I'd said he was passionate about both but couldn't decide, what would you have suggested?

OP’s posts: |
RoobyMyrtle Sat 10-Sep-16 10:30:07

If he's not sure it would be better for him to take his time and not apply this year. Does he have any idea what he wants to do with his life? Maybe spend some time doing voluntary work or travelling. He'll be more successful if he's really committed and has an end goal in mind.


Horsemad Sat 10-Sep-16 11:13:37

Yes, I am hoping to talk to him about a year working and then reassessing his options.

OP’s posts: |
SwedishEdith Sat 10-Sep-16 11:23:56

What about economics? That would be a good fit.

I agree with you that plenty of students aren't "passionate" about a subject - nice if you are.

Minniemagoo Sat 10-Sep-16 11:24:16

I'd look at career options not degree options tbh.
For example history and geography would be good going into an archeology degree.
If he wanted to do teaching he could use both.
A social sciences degree using both would be good for local government etc.
Is there a careers day coming up at any of the universities near you that he could pop into?

yeOldeTrout Sat 10-Sep-16 11:27:12

What are his ICT skills like, has he ever done any programming?

Horsemad Sat 10-Sep-16 11:36:35

Not into programming/computing at all.

It's damn tricky when you don't know what you want to do isn't it?! confused

OP’s posts: |
SherlockPotter Sat 10-Sep-16 11:41:33

I'm in my last year of my History degree so I'm biased, I find a History degree is rather versatile as you can go into a variety of careers due to the transferable skills developed. These careers range from history related so teaching, museums, heritage and archives to careers in law, the civil service, the police etc!

I would say with a History degree, you need passion... A lot of it in fact!

Stopyourhavering Sat 10-Sep-16 14:31:29

What about a degree unrelated to his subject? Law, PPE, Education, anthropology?....think outside the box
Does he have an idea of what he'd like to do in future.....
my ds is the same, wondering how to write a PS to cover all bases, doing Geography, Physics and Biology but considering Ocean/environmental science or forensic Antropology

Timeforabiscuit Sat 10-Sep-16 14:33:53

I'm a geography graduate, so I'm afraid I'm biased : ) but the range of careers its led to are incredibly broad as you can come out with BSc or BA depending on module mix.

It may be worth looking at the actual modules of the course and see which is sparking more interest - 3 days of counting forams in bore hole samples had me reconsidering my course a bit.

Horsemad Sat 10-Sep-16 14:37:24


OP’s posts: |
SherlockPotter Sat 10-Sep-16 14:58:51

Also it's worth knowing that history at university is so much different to how it is at a-level!

The universities will differ in what content they teach as there's no set curriculum for them, so it also depends on what area (and time period) of history he enjoys!

yeOldeTrout Sat 10-Sep-16 15:10:04

I had not a clue what to do when I grew up. I tried both (H & G) at university level & definitely geography was wildly better for me. I ended up in a quite technical specialty, that's why I asked about ICT.

If your son is mathematical, I think the balance probably balances towards something more quantitative. I suppose something like archaelogy is also a blend of similar interests (but few fecking jobs, sadly, when done!!)

dreamingofsun Sat 10-Sep-16 21:40:55

is he good at certain aspects of geography? If its human he could do a degree leaning towards that; or physical geography what about geology?

have you spoken to the teachers? We discussed the topic with my son's to check she though he was up to it.

does he have any idea why he got a C?

is there a local uni that he can go to the open day for and chat to the lectures?

Horsemad Sat 10-Sep-16 21:50:58

DS is seeing his teacher for a chat this week. They got his papers back and whilst he was marked harshly on two questions, a bit of it was also exam technique too.

I will drop his Geog teacher an email this week and have a chat with him if possible.

OP’s posts: |
bojorojo Sat 10-Sep-16 22:47:58

If he cannot improve on the C, what university courses for Geography will actually be realistic? Even a B in Geography at A2 might limit opportunities. What about Management? A course with a year in industry is more likely to get you a job in this field - and the breadth of that field is huge! Economics may be ok too but a good university might want AAA because it is usually more competitive than Management.

Lots of young people don't choose a degree they are passionate about! Lots don't know what they want to do after university and see what life throws at them! Few leave the best universities though! 25% is now considered very high! You can get him assessed for a career. It might help him decide what he really does not want eg working with animals, being a lawyer, etc. as well as what he might like. You can of course do a degree in one subject and then completely change tack when you get to meet other people and possible careers open up. History and Geography do not close doors so he would have time to think about a career. Maybe start looking at courses his results might get him into and see what the modules are. Do they interest him?

stonecircle Sun 11-Sep-16 15:14:58

Horsemad - my ds2 is about to start his second year of a geography degree. I wouldn't say he is passionate about the subject but it was his best and favourite subject (A star at GCSE and A2). He's like your DS - recognises a degree would be a good thing to have, is disciplined and works reasonably hard. He doesn't know what he wants to do either.

I'm not convinced many people go to uni because they are passionate about a subject and want to study it. Don't most people choose a subject which will help them in their chosen career and, if they have no idea about a career, then just a subject they like and are good at?

I do wonder whether the c might hinder his chance of offers in geography from a good uni though.

Could he do a joint geography/history degree? Or go to a Scottish uni where he could do 3 subjects of equal weight in his first year and then decide?

Horsemad Sun 11-Sep-16 19:00:24

Hi stonecircle, he has decided to re-sit Geography next summer and will be predicted a B I think.

He has mentioned a Joint Honours degree, but wonders how they are perceived by employers.

Hopefully he will have a chat with his uni mentor at school this week and that will help him to decide. smile

OP’s posts: |
stonecircle Sun 11-Sep-16 19:54:40

I can't see why employers would have any problems with a joint honours. I applied to do joint honours English and history many centuries ago and had some very rigorous interviews from representatives of both departments - particularly at York. Ended up in Scotland where the first year gave me the breathing space I needed to decide I wanted to focus on English.

Have a look at Exeter's flexible combined honours.

senua Mon 12-Sep-16 09:23:34

The 'lack of passion' is not a problem if he is going for one of the big universities, if we believe what admission people on this forum tell us. They don't read the PS, they offer purely on grades. Get the best grades predictions you can (talk nicely to that Geog teacher!) and, bingo, you're in.
My DS was similar to yours and didn't know what to do. However, he got several offers despite discovering his 'passion'hmm about a month before the UCAS forms went in.grin He was never in danger of being awarded keenest-student-of-the-year but does understand how life works: he kept his nose clean, did enough work and came out with a decent grade. The degree is his entry to the world of graduate work, it was never his 'passion' (although he enjoyed it well enough and learned transferable skills along the way).

Has your DS thought about doing something connected to Realty? Surveying, land management, facilities management, town planning - those sort of things. If he does an accredited degree then he is halfway to getting his Chartered Surveyor qualification.

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