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'A' level choices HELP

(24 Posts)
TheCompanyofWolefs Tue 23-Aug-11 18:58:02

DD is academic and a good all-rounder, she is predicted to get A's and A* in her GCSE's on Thursday.

Her teachers have suggested she try for a Russel group university. She will probably take 4 subjects to A2.

She is down to do all 3 sciences for 'a' level, as well as Theatre Studies because she loves drama and has been involved in productions for many years.

NOW she tells me she is not sure she want's a science degree, she might want to pursue Acting or film directing.

I'm worried about her doing all 3 sciences if her heart is not in a science career, but she is talking about Media Studies and Film studies.

Do you think it is possible to take a more mixed bag of 'A' levels, but retain 3 good subjects plus the theatre studies, IE Biology, chemistry, english lang, theatre? Will that keep her options open for both science and drama / media, or will it look too mixed? She doesn't want to do medicine or oxbridge, which i know would definately need 3 sciences.

is 2 arts 2 science ok? I think I can steer her away from Media and Film if english and theatre would mean that the drama course door is still open, but I would like her to keep the science options too, as she was really keen until this summer.

any thoughts?

TheCompanyofWolefs Tue 23-Aug-11 18:58:46

oh dear, apostraphe crime, whoops blush

Kez100 Tue 23-Aug-11 19:19:48

We've a lad locally who is an incredible actor. Also one of last years A* across the board students. He is also grade 8 Musical Theatre and is studying A level Drama, Psychology, English and Politics. Don't know if that helps. Certainly looks as if he has gone for quality academic A levels in that area, rather than the softer options (of Film Studies etc)

eatyourveg Tue 23-Aug-11 19:25:28

I would opt for english lit or lang/lit over pure lang, its not rated as highly as pure lit or lang/lit.

Biology Chemistry English lit and Drama sound fine to me but science at degree level would probably be out as they would want all sciences and/or maths

DamselInDisarray Tue 23-Aug-11 19:26:47

The really good thing about science a-levels is that they absolutely won't hold you back whatever you apply for. A film studies degree programme isn't going to look unfavourably on someone with good a-level physics (for example). If she wants to do a more arts or social science course at university, she might want to consider a traditional subject like English lit or history (simply because it will help with the kinds of essay writing skills needed for university study). She might get that from theatre studies though.

ragged Tue 23-Aug-11 19:33:56

A Drama degree is a rare path for getting into a drama career. Media studies is a derided A-level, iirc. Science will open many many doors.
I'd be throttling a DC who wanted to put all their eggs in a drama basket.
John Cleese: studied law
Michael Palin: read modern history
Jodie Foster: majored in literature
Here's a list, mostly not drama/related arts students in there. Longer list with more drama entries.

senua Tue 23-Aug-11 19:33:59

Erm, are you assuming that you can swan into school and demand, very late in the day, that they undo all their planning and timetabling just to accommodate your DD ... ?hmm

cheekydino Tue 23-Aug-11 19:44:40

See the advice Russell group unis have published about a level choices here:

Two science and two arts subjects are fine, it will only rule out the very top unis, our school sends plenty to Russell group unis for bio/chem/biochem with only two sciences (although only with AAA/AAB predictions at A2). English lit would be a v good choice for her if she wants to go into theatre/direction etc, but she should be aware that getting into that kind of career depends much more on experience outside the classroom. If she were one of my students I would advise doing the four subjects that she enjoys the most (as long as they are academic) and that she is likely to get the best grades in, then aim to get to a really good uni which has a great acting/drama scene and throw herself into that (whatever her degree subject is). She should make sure she does as much outside school as she has time for during 6th form (maybe put on her own play, offer to help with drama in a voluntary basis somewhere, enter short film competitions etc) to make sure she can write a fab personal statement.

(am 6th form HE adviser btw!)

veryundecided Tue 23-Aug-11 20:10:00

OP here, had to reregister as login not working.

Senua, what an odd question - of course I checked subject timetables and availability first. What a strange thing to say.

Thanks to cheeky and others - no-one wants to hear their teen say they want to be an actor/ress... I'd be happer for it to be a hobby, but I dont want her to regret her choices, so i'm just trying to keep doors open for as long as i can until she really makes up her mind.

verlainechasedrimbauds Tue 23-Aug-11 20:14:58

I wonder whether she has a bit of study fatigue - for want of a better expression. I would certainly try to steer her away from Media Studies, I don't know anyone in the creative industries who thinks it's worth anything at all. If she is interested in theatre and film she doesn't need to do Media Studies to study them. Reading plays, seeing as much theatre as she can afford (all kinds of theatre teach you something, including the local amateur show) and taking part in everything she has time for - this will be more useful to her than Media Studies (or Film Studies, unless she has the chance to make films as opposed to study them).

I know loads of actors and quite a few directors. Most of the actors I know who are making any kind of living (and there aren't many of them doing so) went to drama school, either straight from school, after some "life experience" or after a degree in another subject. Others went to very good universities studying English or a wide variety of other subjects. The theatre directors I know have come from all sorts of backgrounds. I don't know all that many film directors - apart from those who aspire to be film directors and have to make money doing something else to allow them to make films in their spare time and usually by bending their credit cards.

I would absolutely agree with cheekydino that a career in film or theatre depends far more on what you do outside the classroom. Drama school entry is based on audition, not on academic attainment. I wouldn't recommend a degree in Drama as a compromise (not that you have suggested it, but lots of people do) - it won't be regarded as good training for the profession.

I wouldn't recommend acting as a profession anyway (despite being an actor, and having a son who is also an actor and doing ok at the moment). It really is only something you should pursue if nothing else will do! It is so much harder to make a living as an actor than anyone outside the profession can possibly grasp! Your daughter is far more likely to be able play interesting roles as an amateur...

Some books that might be worth reading which give some insight into the profession:

An Actor's Guide to Getting Work - Simon Dunmore
Make Acting Work - Chrys Salt
So You Want to Tread the Boards? - Jennifer Reischel

Also - Actors Handbook (or possibly Yearbook). Second hand copies available very cheaply from Amazon Marketplace as it is published annually. Lots of good articles in it.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 23-Aug-11 22:26:47

When I was undecided at A level, many moons ago, I ended up doing Maths, Physics and English Lit and having to get a university place doing Physics based only on the Maths and Physics A levels. They wouldn't count the English Lit at all, so make sure you don't do only two sciences if you want to go on and do science. I'd recommend an academic arts/social science mix, just in case, and nothing woolly like Media Studies.

kritur Wed 24-Aug-11 11:06:04

2 arts, 2 sciences is fine as long as they are academic and well regarded and will keep options open for her. I did biology, chemistry, history and french at A-level and I now have a PhD in chemistry.......... Film studies, media studies are much derided and will close off options. The good thing about drama is that it is something that you don't need to specifically study it to be successful. Most universities have good drama depts and their productions are a source of talent for the scouts.

Milliways Wed 24-Aug-11 17:13:51

My DS has chosen a mix of Maths, Chemistry, Eng Lit & History!

He wants to be a Primary teacher so covering the basics! (Maths, Eng, Science & Humanity)

EllenJaneisnotmyname Wed 24-Aug-11 17:54:58

Wow, Milliways. You could usually only do 3 back in the day, and I was really dithering between History and Physics. I was always going to do Maths and English. Maybe I should become a primary school teacher?!

ellisbell Wed 24-Aug-11 17:55:57

encourage her to think about how she would earn money when not acting or directing as these are professions where being continously employed is rare. She would have far more choice of part-time work with good academic A levels, even if she decides not to do a degree. Go on the UCAS site and show her figures for people in employment after some of the courses she might consider. Ask what sort of lifestyle she wants to have.

At this age they really don't know what they want to do and they certainly have no idea of the implications for their standard of living. I know several young people who have totally changed their ideas of what they want to do. She may also be worried about her results and happier to stick with science subjects when the results arrive.

Two arts and 2 sciences may sound OK but it certainly closes off quite a few Russell University courses.

cricketballs Wed 24-Aug-11 18:23:31

why the sciences in the first place unless she originally wanted medicine? I would suggest that she choices subjects she enjoys first then compare to the RG list if she really wants to attend one of their uni's.

If she is slightly unsure, then suggest a wide variety; e.g. English lit (for her love of drama etc), History (which will help her to understand the contexts of period dramas), a science, then her drama

Changebagsandgladrags Thu 25-Aug-11 10:14:20

Are schools letting students sit A level Physics without Maths? I wouldn't advise doing that, you need some strong maths to cope with Physics.

Chemistry is seen as a 'hard' science, Biology slightly easier.

How about Maths, Physics, English and something else like Theatre/Media?

Changebagsandgladrags Thu 25-Aug-11 10:15:13

Sorry, reading last post how about Maths, Enlish, History and Theatre?

Bonsoir Thu 25-Aug-11 10:19:05

Maths and physics are more versatile/marketable subjects than biology or chemistry for someone who isn't sure they want to pursue a science degree. If your DD really thinks she wants to pursue a career in acting or film directing, she would be wise not to put all her eggs in one basket early on. Why doesn't she do Maths, Physics, English and Theatre Studies A-level?

strictlovingmum Thu 25-Aug-11 13:35:09

I think there should be nothing to stop her making slightly unusual (unorthodox) choice if that is her preference, traditionally it's believed to be good to mix sciences with maths and more tangible studies, but I agree with Bonsoir, that combo of subjects can work well and leave her with more open

Yellowstone Thu 25-Aug-11 13:41:09

Changebag DS1 is doing Physics without Maths and has scored 100% at AS in both exams and the coursework, 300/300. It's clearly possible. I also don't think he was the only one.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Thu 25-Aug-11 14:52:03

I found that doing a degree in Physics required really strong maths skills. My friends who had done Further Maths found the degree much easier than me, with only an A level in Pure and Applied. The A level Physics course didn't require any Maths beyond O level. Had I realised how Maths heavy the Physics degree course would be I think I would have chosen differently.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 25-Aug-11 15:06:32

If she wants to do Theatre, then get her into AmDram and the college productions.
Do not waste one of her A level choices on it.

I was at school with a later Dr Who Assistant who always knew she wanted to be an actress but knew that she HAD to have a sound academic backup and then did acting at degree level.

eatyourveg Fri 26-Aug-11 19:21:02

There is an article in todays Times Education Supplement about this. See here

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