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A levels or Foundation year

(16 Posts)
cakesandtea Sun 26-Aug-18 00:26:01

For a range of complex factors and circumstances DS has 2 A levels and an AS, not great. He plans to retake his A levels, to get a set of full 3 A levels and improve his grades. However, he also wants to move on. So, he has applied through clearing, and got a place in a foundation year at a uni ranking in the 50 overall and in the 40 for his subject. Ideally he would have wanted to go to higher ranking universities, like Exeter, Southampton, Loughborough, Surrey, Sussex which are in the top 20 for his subject.

He is excited, but also anxious a bit. Hesitant. He looks at me for some advice.

I am worried that without full 3 A levels with good grades his options would be limited and employment prospects not so bright. If he does well in foundation year, he might not be able to transfer to a higher ranking uni due to A levels. He might not be able to get into Masters degree, which he would like to do. How would employers look at his poor A levels?

If he wouldn't do well in the foundation year, he wouldn't even have good A levels to fall back to and it would be even more difficult to come back to them later in life.

On the other hand, if his motivation to repeat A levels wavers, (and for a range of other complex factors), he might not improve his grades after 1 more year. Now at least he is excited and motivated for the foundation year..

I am agonising over what is the right thing to do and how to 'test' whether it is the right time for DS to go to university.

OP’s posts: |
SweatyFretty Sun 26-Aug-18 00:45:42

How would employers look at his poor A levels?

What does he want to do?

He might not be able to get into Masters degree, which he would like to do.

It's quite unlikely he wouldn't get into any Masters courses with a 2.1.

If he's got itchy feet at home I think the foundation year sounds like a great idea.

thejeangenie36 Sun 26-Aug-18 00:52:12

Your DS should check what sort of Foundation Year it is. There are basically two types - those targeted at UK students and those targeted at international students. If the latter, he will be surrounded by students whose English is poor.

If gets a decent degree result, it won't matter a bit if he has poor A Levels in relation to getting on a Master's.

To be honest, if he does settle into the Foundation Year I find it unlikely he would then want to move to a better university.

cakesandtea Sun 26-Aug-18 01:33:51

DS wants to do Computing. He wants to do AI or software engineering, something technical and advanced as a career, not IT helpdesk or business / sales oriented ICT. He hopes to work for a blue chip tech employer. Will A levels be a barrier?

The Foundation is the proper foundation entry for his subject.

OP’s posts: |
SweatyFretty Sun 26-Aug-18 01:37:17

I don't think A Levels will be a problem in computing, no. Often the most talented in the field have a very specific skillset and didn't get on with other subjects. Nothing unusual about your DS in that regard!

Stopyourhavering64 Sun 26-Aug-18 06:56:00

Dd bf had mediocre A levels ( B,C,D- no maths) and went to Sheffield to do computing science...came out with a First and is now a software engineer earning £37k / pa in his first graduate job
Employers won't necessarily be interested in A levels, especially if you've got a good degree
Sounds like the foundation year might be v useful for your son as it will actually be teaching him the subject he'll be doing for his degree, unlike an A level which will be less specific

cakesandtea Sun 26-Aug-18 14:52:14

Yes, Stopy, but your DD's friend went to Sheffield. DS will be at a lower ranking uni. Mainly because he wants to live at home, not ready to move away.

What are the prospects of blue chip employer?

OP’s posts: |
cakesandtea Sun 26-Aug-18 15:01:01

Any thoughts on the second part:

'If he wouldn't do well in the foundation year, he wouldn't even have good A levels to fall back to and it would be even more difficult to come back to them later in life.

On the other hand, if his motivation to repeat A levels wavers, (and for a range of other complex factors), he might not improve his grades after 1 more year. Now at least he is excited and motivated for the foundation year..

I am agonising over what is the right thing to do and how to 'test' whether it is the right time for DS to go to university.' ?

And the employment?

OP’s posts: |
thejeangenie36 Sun 26-Aug-18 18:34:17

He can always repeat his A Levels in later life if needs be. Plenty of people do.

He has applied for, been accepted on and is excited about a Foundation Year. There's no agonising to do, really.

ReservoirDogs Sun 26-Aug-18 19:01:31

DS1's gf did a foundation in her subject at a lower ranking uni and then moved to Nottingham to do her Bachelors.

It shouldn't hold him back.

DuskyMoth Sun 26-Aug-18 19:20:05

I did a foundation year (now about to go into year 3 of an integrated masters. If he gets a good degree out of it I'm not sure employers will care about A Level results. Especially if he goes on to do a Masters.

I really enjoyed the foundation year and found it very helpful. There was a lad who didn't like it, he liked the subject and the course but not the area or university (RG), so he wanted to switch university for the start of the actual degree. His first choice was another Russel Group uni, they gave him a conditional offer of over 70% in each module. Unfortunately he didn't achieve it and left to go to a not that good university, but it was in his home town so ultimately I think he is happier. And in the subject we are doing he will still be very employable when we are finished.

I think one of the reasons he didn't enjoy it so much though was the mix of students on the course. It was predominantly mature and international students. He was the youngest in our social group by about a decade.

I don't know what is right for your son, that's just my experience. I think really though he is an adult and it's his choice. I don't think you can really 'test' him.

titchy Sun 26-Aug-18 19:23:53

You say he's not ready to move away, hence the choice of university. Do you think with another year at home he'd be ready, or would he still want to stay at home?

FruitCider Sun 26-Aug-18 19:49:31

Whilst a degree is handy in this field, it's certain not necessary. Does he actually want a degree in IT? Or does he want to train in software development? Has he considered a level 3/4 apprenticeship?

TigerDragonMonkey Sun 26-Aug-18 21:04:51

I used to work as an admissions administrator and we would accept a foundation year instead of A-levels, so in theory he could swap after a year but it does depend on the university.
If he does badly at the foundation year, another option if he decides to give uni another go in a few years would be to do an access to HE course (which is just one year and usually part time) instead of A levels. They have UCAS points and are great for adult returners.
Another option that some places offer is a Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE), which has lower entry requirements than the full hons degree, but is basically years 1 and 2 of the full course. Once you have proved yourself you can transfer to the full honours degree. So it is worth checking if any of his preferred unis have a lower qualification he can enrol on with the option to upgrade - bit of a long shot but no harm in checking!

TigerDragonMonkey Sun 26-Aug-18 21:07:42

Also, for what it’s worth, I got two Es at A level and now I’m doing a PhD at a top 10 university so bad A level results are not an academic death sentence ;)

IndieRar Mon 27-Aug-18 08:29:56

My foundation year kind of made my A levels obsolete. It was the only thing degree courses were interested in. I only decided to do it last minute as I hadn't saved enough to go travelling! Very glad I did it and was the most fun year of my youth.

He'll be fine.

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