A level options..French and what else?

(50 Posts)
ProfessorLayton1 Tue 18-Apr-17 07:30:09

DD currently doing her GCSE s and predicted good grades across the board.
Doing three sciences,Latin , music, French ,history in addition to Maths and English.

She does not have a clue what to do for A levels apart from French and has no idea what she wants to do in university.
We have always said that she can do what she wants to do and will support her with whatever choice she makes. She is self motivated and works very hard.

But am feeling a bit frustrated that she can't decide anything so we have decided to rethink her choices once her GCSEs are over.

She had expressed interest in a combined degree of physics and music(mainly interested in music) but gone off doing music A level as found the GCSE music course work not so enjoyable especially music composition.

Natural sciences as she likes sciences and one of the boys from her school got into this course .I have no idea what this means and what career options will this lead to..
The school has said that she can take any A level she wants ..ahhh
It is not helped by the fact that most of my friends DC know what they want to do and are very focused on their goals( disclaimer: we are Asian doctors and have many friends who are doctors and their children would like to do medicine)
Intact ,we have told her that she does not have to take sciences at all for A level s if she does not want to. She is very interested in politics and is very well informed in current affairs so I suggested doing politics- she does not want to, may be just because I suggested!
Economics- thinks it is not for her!
Music as a degree- again would like to keep this as a hobby!
Gap year - may be..
She is my first child and am feeling anxious about this, are we responsible for her being like this because we have always let her do what she wants to...
Can someone tell me this is normal and not everyone has super smart, focused children..

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DrDreReturns Tue 18-Apr-17 07:36:21

It's very unusual to know what you want to do at 16 imo. I did French, Biology and Chemistry a level btw and went on to a life sciences degree. If she wants to do physics at University she will need a level physics and maths.
In hindsight I wish I'd done maths a level instead of French, as my school advised me at the time. It would have been a lot more useful to my career.
Make sure she does facilitating subjects, they are recognised by the top unis. There is a list on the Russel Group website.

SaltyMyDear Tue 18-Apr-17 07:38:30

This is fine and normal. Many 16 year olds are like this. (And some of the hyper focused children you know will regret it later when they mature).

If she did one science, plus French, plus one essay subject like History, she'll have the broadest possible choice. Maths if she's making 4 choices.

It cuts out medicine and some of the stem subjects - but doesn't sound like that's what she wants either. And keeps open most other doors.

Needmoresleep Tue 18-Apr-17 07:38:33

She sounds super smart!

Unless she is certain of what she wants to do, I would pick maths as one of the options. It keeps lots of doors open.

bigTillyMint Tue 18-Apr-17 07:42:39

I did French, Maths and Chemistry but should have really done English Lit instead of the Chemistry...

One of DD's friends who is super-bright does French, Maths, Chemistry and Biology and has an offer from Oxbridge for BioChem.

BossWitch Tue 18-Apr-17 07:43:57

Very normal - speaking from a teacher's perspective!

What year is she in now, 10 or 11? If still in ten I would maybe try to wait until the end of the year, or until she has completed a full set of mocks, as that might help give her an idea of her best subjects.

If she's not clear on a career path I'd suggest pick a mix of arts and sciences for a level to keep her options open ahead of choosing a degree. Id also say pick from the 'facilitating subjects' list unless she's really keen to do something not listed on there, again to keep options open later.

Don't rule out a gap year, but bear in mind if she only wants one year gap, she will not actually have that much more time - she'll still need to apply by the Jan UCAS deadline ahead of the Sept she wants to start in. Applying then is easier in some ways - you have your grades so you pretty much know if you are going to get offered a place, you can be doing work / volunteering related to your chosen subject which helps with writing the personal statement, but more difficult in other ways - you could be travelling abroad, you could find getting references from school more difficult.

French is a good starting point - language a levels are difficult and therefore well regarded. It might be easier to do process of elimination to help narrow it down further - knock off any subjects she doesn't want to do for a level and reduce the list slightly!

endofthelinefinally Tue 18-Apr-17 07:44:50

Philosophy is a great subject for a bright child.


ProfessorLayton1 Tue 18-Apr-17 15:43:42

Thanks all. She is doing her GCSEs this May. It is very reassuring to know that this is normal.

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gleam Tue 18-Apr-17 15:56:51

Will she do 4 A levels? Mine did 4 the first year and then carried 3 on to full A levels.

How about chemistry and biology to keep science open plus French.

titchy Tue 18-Apr-17 16:25:32

Not being able to think of a degree at this stage is perfectly normal. She is leaving it VERY late for A level decisions though - these are usually made in autumn year 11, although late changes are usually accommodated, so she really ought to have an idea by now. Maths A level will never do any harm and keeps options open so I'd strongly suggest that, and maybe two more with a view to dropping one early on.

sendsummer Tue 18-Apr-17 16:35:22

If she is a gifted music performer this course combining physics at and music performance at RCM might be worth considering. She would not need music A level but would need physics and maths.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 18-Apr-17 16:56:10

If she doesn't know what she wants to do, then its down to choosing subjects which in combination keep doors open. Unfortunately they can't choose many - hopefully if she's bright she's not limited to 3 from the outset? Pupils can come unstuck if one of their subjects is more of a step up from gcse than they can cope with, or if they don't like it (esp with subjects they've not done before eg politics or economics).

As far as I can see, STEM courses tend to have somewhat more specific requirements than arts. It's very easy to find course requirements online, maybe you could take a look at a range of subjects she might be interested in at one or two unis of the type you think she may want to apply to.

bojorojo Tue 18-Apr-17 19:03:17

She could do lots of university courses with French, Maths and History. You don't need Politics A level to do Politics at university. She could also consider Law, Internatiomal Relations, History, Psychology, etc. She could do French or add French to another subject to do joint honours. I think Music is more difficult to factor in but lots of people keep Music going as a hobby and this can be rewarding. Universities have many choirs and orchestras. I think a single science has its limitations but she could start looking at courses and see what might interest her. Have they not had a careers convention at school?

sendsummer Tue 18-Apr-17 20:13:39

Reposting as missed out half post blush
If she is a gifted music performer this course www.imperial.ac.uk/study/ug/courses/physics-department/physics-music-bsc
combining physics st Imperial and music performance at RCM might be worth considering. She would not need music A level but would need physics and maths.
Or this course at Imperial or other universities combining physics with a year abroad to build on her French (assuming Brexit does n't scupper these European links)

ProfessorLayton1 Tue 18-Apr-17 21:54:33

She is not averse to taking 4 subjects for AS level but my worry is that she will choose 4 different subjects that are not tied in to together for a degree. Do I make sense?

She is continuing in the same school and we spoke to head of sixth form and he understood her difficulty and is willing to wait till she has done her exams..
According to him she can choose to do what she wants and she would be fine as she does well in all her chosen subjects.
She plays two instruments and has grade 8 distinction in one and doing grade 8 this summer hopefully..She was not fussed with physics when she went to open evening ( I was very excited and would have done it again as the teacher was very goodsmile) and the syllabus was interesting!)
She did have some sort of careers fair but we were not invited so not entirely sure what happened. There was one dedicated for medicine but she did not go for this.. that's all I know.
Are you allowed to do 5 A levels or are they really hard? It seems too narrow to study only three subjects ( I was not educated in this country)

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Ktown Tue 18-Apr-17 21:58:38

When I was at imperial they had a physics and music degree and certainly a physics degree with a year in France
Friends who did this are now loaded smile

PossumInAPearTree Tue 18-Apr-17 22:05:57

I didn't think as levels were a thing from Sept onwards?

I know dds very academic school have said they won't allow anyone to sit 4 A levels anymore due to the change in A levels. Before it was pretty standard. Exception is if you're doing maths and further maths. Or on an individual appeal type basis if it's felt it will help an Oxbridge or Haravard/Yale type application.

Donthate Tue 18-Apr-17 22:09:02

If she is interested in politics she should take politics alevel. French is the language of the UN, perhaps she could look into whether that/working internationally is of interest to her.

sendsummer Tue 18-Apr-17 22:31:56

Professor even starting with 5 would be unusual in almost all schools and when it does happen the 5 almost always include maths and further maths. One of my DCs had the same sort of problem as your DD, did actually start with five A levels and probably would have been drawn by the IB has it been an option.
The subject which at the beginning of A levels was the least favourite and persuaded to do turned out to be the degree choice. I think some A levels can be much more interesting than the impression given of the subject by GCSEs. If your DD is strong enough in maths and it is permissible by the school she could start off with French, maths, further maths, physics and chemistry and drop one by the end of the first term or half term.

I think that with the narrowing of choice to 3 A levels by many schools, it would be a great help to pupils for them to have the opportunity of two weeks of A level lessons for 4 to 5 subjects before narrowing it down. Probably too expensive for the schools but it would save quite a few from making the wrong decisions based on GCSEs.

ErrolTheDragon Tue 18-Apr-17 23:27:57

* it would be a great help to pupils for them to have the opportunity of two weeks of A level lessons for 4 to 5 subjects before narrowing it down.*

That's what DD's school did - a few of them continue with 5 (yes, usually inc double maths ), quite a few 4.

my worry is that she will choose 4 different subjects that are not tied in to together for a degree. Do I make sense?

Yes. If she thinks she may want to do a science, then she really needs to do that subject plus some combination of maths or another science. Other other courses eg economics require maths. It's not merely that you need the A levels to get an offer, you really do need to know the stuff as a starting point.

OTOH, some arts degrees may require the specific subject but appear not be too prescriptive about the other choices (provided they're proper academic subjects). Some don't necessarily even need an A level in the degree subject.

Needmoresleep Wed 19-Apr-17 09:55:37

I agree with Errol. For social sciences (economics, psychology etc) you don't normally need an A level in that subject, but many of the better courses will require maths. Again not having the maths would rule you out of some science courses, especially if you wanted to take physics or chemistry.

Both mine took five A levels. It probably helped that neither is perfectionist and so content with the "good enough" approach to homework. Four of DS' were useful for his eventually degree (Double maths, history and economics) and the fifth was a fun one, probably akin to your DD's music, but examined. I don't think this impacted on his grades, as maths did not take up too much time.

DD also took five, but without double maths, and with quite a lot of school stuff (prefect, sports captain etc). I think she would have got better grades had she only taken three or had double maths or worked harder but she still made her offer, and it means she has more doors open when she comes to specialise.

That said A levels are supposed to be getting harder, and, especially with music on top, I don't see a benefit in starting more than four. Four though will help with flexibility. Then she can drop one if it is too much.

As PPs have suggested I would look at the entry requirements for various universities. But remember that for competitive courses like Cambridge NatSci, most successful applications will have grades far higher than the minimum stated. (The Complete University Guide gives average entry standards by University, which gives you some idea of what those gaining places have.)

Abetes Wed 19-Apr-17 17:34:32

I did Maths, English and French a levels, back in the Stone Age. I found it to be a good combination - maths is always useful and great for thinking logically, English for writing essays and analysis of the written word and French because I wanted to learn a foreign language. Worked well together in terms of homework and revision for exams.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 19-Apr-17 20:14:19

Most schools even superselectives are switching back to just 3 A levels now they are 2 year linear A levels with no AS level so

Needmoresleep Wed 19-Apr-17 21:27:48

Not sure, but isn't it still possible to take AS maths?

ProfessorLayton1 Wed 19-Apr-17 21:57:28

I thought that you can still do AS level but have to check with the school
She would really struggle to narrow it down to 3
Maths, French chemistry and biology looks like a good combination and would keep all the options open as suggested..so she can do a science degree if she wants. Can you apply for politics or economics with this combination?

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