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To finish or to reroute? Degree worth having?

(8 Posts)
picklemepopcorn Sat 01-Apr-17 14:29:23

I don't know if this would be better in employment... Here goes:

DS1 has just resat his second year at Uni. If he finishes his degree he'll end up with a 2:2 at best, more likely a 3rd, in Computer Science.

Is that worth having, from an employment perspective? He's not keen on programming, preferring more practical hands on stuff like networks and support. It will cost him another £15k, easily.

He finds it hard to get advice and support from Uni, he really isn't pushy enough, and won't ask for help. He is dyslexic and dyspraxic, possibly has ASD as well and finds asking for things painful.

We have encouraged him to look for apprenticeships instead, as he'd be learning on the job and his skills and abilities would be easier to see. He currently works part time on the know how desk at PC world, as well.

Should we be pushing him to finish? He ought to have arranged a placement year as well but hasn't been able to find one. It's hard to help him as he won't do the independent stuff he needs to do to make informed decisions.

Any advice very welcome! Thank you.

Becca19962014 Sat 01-Apr-17 15:11:36

The degree is worth completing. He needs to try and sort a year out for next year, he'll find it very very difficult to get a job without experience - the careers department should be able to advise him on where to look. If he doesn't manage to get one then in a year he'll be looking for work - that can be hard in the world of IT.

Networking/system analysis is a lot of programming. Unless he wants to become an electrical engineer, in which case he'll need to totally retrain, and, there's a lot of maths involved and, in my experience, those courses are full time - no time for part time work. I'm surprised he can fit it in with computer science as that can be intensive as a subject too. Though of course those are based on my experiences sometime ago.

He'd still need to attend college/uni if doing an apprenticeship and need to complete work (including exams) to degree standard, not sure if you're aware of that, on top of 30 hours a week of work.

Whatever he does in IT whether software or hardware engineering he'll be training probably for life because the technology changes so frequently.

titchy Sat 01-Apr-17 15:12:19

Hmmm the problem with an apprenticeship is that he's already two years into the qualification that a degree apprenticeship would give him, so he's not likely to find an employer to support that, unless it's in a completely different subject area, which I'm guessing he doesn't want. A lower level apprenticeship equivalent to A levels again he'd have the same problem.

In all honesty I'd say keep going. To leave now with nothing would be far worse. I doubt a low degree classification will dash his future in the long run. Make sure he picks third year modules he's interested in though.

Becca19962014 Sat 01-Apr-17 15:15:22

Does he have a formal diagnosis of the conditions you mention? Are the uni aware of this? He should be getting extra support from them for lectures/practical work.

picklemepopcorn Sat 01-Apr-17 15:27:42

Thank you so much for answering. I don't know anything about the subject which makes it hard for me to work out what his strengths and weaknesses are.

He worked weekends in a kitchen in his first and second year, then PC World while resitting two modules from his second year, so he had plenty of time. He's very good practically, troubleshooting, setting things up etc. The graphics module knocked his confidence, and he flunked that and the one he did alongside it as he'd started to panic.

What worries me about a placement is that he lacks confidence and doesn't have the determination to do all the applying and persevering despite setbacks. Once he's in a job, he's really diligent and capable. Doing new things is very stressful and overwhelming though.

I've not looked into the detail of apprenticeships- I hadn't thought about the level, just the element of learning on the job. He has a good BTEC in Computer Games Programming. Employers wouldn't want him for a degree level one, you say, because he already has two years of it? I hoped that might make him a good candidate.

He has formal diagnosis, but it is structured such that he has to ask for help. He can't do that. It's like wading through toffee trying to get him to make a 'cold call'. He's ok about very clear cut tasks, but woolly conversations like 'how do I get a placement' seem to be beyond him.

You wouldn't realise his problems unless you knew him well. In a work environment where he is clear about the task he is great. It's the soft stuff he struggles with.

Becca19962014 Sat 01-Apr-17 15:51:18

You can tell him that the graphics modules are a nightmare for pretty much everyone. They're really really difficult. A lot of people do them expecting one thing and what they actually get is a load of complex degree level maths. I did computer science many decades ago and that module (along with the other compulsory one from the maths dept) was hellish - I did it decades ago and remember how awful it was, most of the degree I can't really remember, but that one? Yeh I remember that. I failed my GCSE maths. It was bloody awful.

Yep. Those are horrors of modules.

He needs to try looking for somewhere. I was in the place he is now - basically had enough of the degree, not going to get a high mark, I'd never applied for any work (I'd been unable to work during my degree or the course I did before it due to various reasons) so he has experience as he's applied for his part time job. He'll need to do it once he graduates anyway, honestly it's good experience for that.

In the meantime he needs to look at modules for next year and what he wants to study and where he wants to go after he completes otherwise he won't get to do anything with his degree and skills, or he sets up as self employed programmer but again difficult to get work without prior experience.

With his needs, I do understand honestly - I have SEN too. I was also the only woman on my course and in various workplaces for a long time. Though women begin the course it's difficult to keep going, you're treated like a joke. Your son has support with his applications - you. Encourage him to try. My year out changed my perception of my course and what I wanted to do - they can also show you what you don't want to do. They're very very useful. Networking might not be exactly what he thinks it is.

Ask him to email the education support department or whatever they're called. they really can help him with this stuff.

The problem is if he doesn't reach out he could end up doing nothing other than working in PC World and not putting his skills to good use. Nothing wrong with working in PC World by the way, just it sounds like he wants to do more.

I hope that makes sense!

picklemepopcorn Sat 01-Apr-17 16:52:08

Perfect sense, thank you. That is exactly where he is. I'll talk to him again, and get him to do the placement year at the very least. Good plan. That is actually his best bit anyway if he can just bring himself to actually do it!

Thank you, and I'm glad you found a way through that worked for you!

Becca19962014 Sat 01-Apr-17 17:10:15

I'm glad it made sense. I really hope he can find a way through.

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