This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Sixth form daughter has no idea what to do at University(36 Posts)
Eldest daughter is about to start Upper Sixth. Although she says she wants to go to Uni she doesn't really know what to study. When I try and offer suggestions she either gets cross or upset and then we get no further. Any suggestions how to tackle this and encourage her to look at the different options/courses that are out there. I feel she has her head in the sand, worrying about it but not doing anything to alleviate the worry. She is predicted AAB A levels in academic subjects so she is quite capable.
Here's how I made my decision:
1. Which is my favourite A-level subject? I picked English and Sociology, couldn't decide between them.
2. What do I enjoy learning about in my own time? For me this was politics and feminism.
3. Do I want to go abroad for uni? Will I consider Scottish or Welsh unis? For me this was a no based on family ties and distance.
4. Do I want a city or campus uni? You may have to visit some to decide!
5. What courses can I do that combine all these things? I ended up applying for English Lit everywhere except the uni I now go to where I do a combined politics, literature and media degree. I would have hated all the straight English degrees tbh so it's worth looking into a combined honours.
Then once you've got some courses at some places nailed down, visit the ones you can and see which feels right. Number one rule is do what you're passionate about and what you enjoy!
A law degree at a Russel group is the standard for the don't know kids. You can use it to become a barrister, solicitor, banker, consultant, academic, teacher, politics, NGO work just to name a few. It us also useful in general business, if you are starting your own business and as a life skill in general. I would suggest age applies for law then defers the place and takes a gap year to work or start a business to see if it helps her figure stuff out a bit more.
Is university the right environment for her? Would she prefer to look at an apprenticeship or paid employment?
I really don't want to sound harsh, but I can't understand how your daughter wants to go to university but doesn't know what she wants to study. It seems a bit 'cart before the horse'. What does she actually want to gain from going to university? Why doesn't she want to talk about her future and what she wants to do? Are you certain she really does want to go? Perhaps she needs to take some time out after A levels, work out what she really wants, think about what will make her happy and be of benefit in the long run.
There are various websites which will show what degree courses go with the a level combination. She may have access to the Higher Ideas site through sixth form?
Probably better for her to take a year or two out to have time to think and make up her mind, rather than just rush straight off to uni because that's what's expected.
Does she have an idea of what kind of job / career she sees herself in? Then she could work backwards (if the career job requires a degree)
There is no shame in taking a year out if unsure! It's less stressful come results day anyway as you already have yours and an unconditional offer! I wasn't sure so took a year out, worked at the local supermarket, which made me realise it was crap and i wanted to further my education to get a better job. (also meant i had some money when i went)
On the other end of the spectrum, my Brother in law started a course he was pushed into by his parents, didn't enjoy it, dropped out and then started the course he did want to do a year later (still had to pay the first year fee's to the uni for the dropped course!!)
Has she thought where she might want to go and maybe looking at the courses that are offered there as a starting point.
20 years ago I would have said pick what you enjoy, now I would say do something useful
If she doesn't know yet, she shouldn't go yet. She will benefit much more from taking time out, working and thinking about it, and will appreciate it and be better equipped to make the most of it to boot.
My suggestion is to go to a few of the upcoming open days, go to a few talks in the subjects she is studying for A level and any other departments in subjects that are similar to any hobbies/interests eg, if she likes drawing maybe look at architecture, civics then consider PPE or similar. Don't panic if she doesn't have a career in mind. How many of us are working in a career we chose at 17.
she should speak to the careers advisor at school, and try some online tests.
She does need to be deciding now as applications go in over the next few months
She can change later, or withdraw. I strongly advise that she does a UCAS application though, as in itself, it is a helpful process to go through
2 other ways to look at it.
1. Start with what does she want to do in life and work from there.
2. Start with crossing off the thing she definitely doesn't want to study. I found at that age they could never tell me what they wanted but would easily have a long list of what they didn't want.
Your daughter is not alone! I understand her perfectly, was exactly the same.
A gap year may help her to decide but a degree in anything (if she decides to proceed) is never wasted.
What A levels is she doing? That’s the starting point.
You cannot say - I like drawing and I want to be an architect. You need Maths! Some highly competitive careers in law will be ruled out if you have done A levels in Sociology, Art and Media Studies.
Therefore you have to think around the subjects taken as well as the subjects themselves. Look at hobbies and interests. There are degrees in so many subjects and careers. Some are very worthwhile and some less so. PPE is not widely offered and again academic A levels would be preferred and probably Maths. Be realistic but start by looking at open days where the university offers a blend of vocational and academic and there might be something that looks good and sparks an interest.
Try the Morrisby careers options questionnaire. You pay for it but it asks what you like and don’t like!
Has she looked at uni prospectuses to see if anything takes her fancy and to make sure she knows what’s on offer?
And you don’t need maths to be an architect.
Dd is planning on architecture and is not doing maths a level, she’s not even doing art! The universities have said at the open days that that’s fine. She is doing product design. Think it’s either bath/Bristol which require maths but not the others.
You cannot say - I like drawing and I want to be an architect. You need Maths!
I wasn't in any way suggesting OP's daughter become an architect and apologies if anyone misunderstood - its how to compile the initial long list of potential subjects OP is after so architecture if it even made it to the long list, may well get crossed off at the first cull as would many STEM courses depending on what A levels she is studying. OP has not told us that yet.
The point was to use her current subjects along with her interests as a starting point. The actual course requirements become a filter mechanism once the initial list of potential courses is compiled.
- She should talk to her tutors.
- Which A Level subject is she most enthusiastic about? Not the best, what she loves?
- Consider a year out to decide
- Apprenticeships and other non uni opportunities are are perfectly good route and can have many benefits.
- is she anxious about leaving home (as most unis would mean this)
My son had a deferred place for Biology and ending up doing Politics and International Relations at the same uni. But there's no point going through the application process not really wanting to go - for whatever reason.
Something I do with school students - albeit usually ones way below year 13 - is get them to discuss the following things about what they want from their future career but ban them from mentioning any actual jobs. The ones I talk to are all interested in either healthcare or medical science; the point I'm trying to get them to is deciding which of those two pathways they're more interested in.
what kind of environment/setting do I want to work in?
what kind of environment/setting do I not want to work in?
what kind of people do I want to work with?
what kind of people do I not want to work with?
(these questions cover both colleagues and clients, if appropriate)
do I want to work regular hours?
do I want to know in advance exactly what I'm going to be doing each day?
what do I want to be able to achieve?
what do I want to be able to contribute?
This helps some people identify things they definitely aren't interested in and sometimes suggests things they hadn't previously thought about that they would be interested in.
This is only a preliminary step, of course, but unless someone wants to be an academic it's not necessarily a good idea to just go to university to continue studying a subject they've done at school without thinking about what happens after that. If someone defines what they want to do and it's something that requires a good degree without any conditions on what that degree is in then, yes, it's fine to carry on with something you enjoyed at school. I would still challenge (very vigorously) someone who wanted to do this, as I think they should look at all the courses that are available at university and aren't available at school before they make a choice.
Hello again, reading your post again, I really don't think that she wants to go to university at all. She is still very young. Just because she is 'capable' doesn't mean that she has to go to university. My advice is to leave the poor girl alone. She's happy with you and her siblings at the moment. You are very fortunate!
Nothing wrong with waiting and concentrating on getting A levels sorted this year and applying next year (or the year after etc).
Liberal Arts degrees offer a range of different subjects and you can narrow down later in the course - worth a look maybe?
Are the school helping her with this at all? UCAS ball started rolling in June at my school. Do they provide access to Unifrog or a similar platform that shows some more unusual jobs/degrees that one can do with various A level profiles? She could take a gap year (planned out!) and then reconsider her options in a year?