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Choosing A levels advice please?

(50 Posts)
lubeybooby Thu 18-Oct-12 13:24:22


My DD is year 11 and has to choose which A level choices she would like just after christmas, for 6th form next year. We had an options evening last night and got a little advice but she's unsure which things would be best, and so am I

She has an interest in fashion, journalism, and media and would like to try and head in this direction career wise.

Choices we have narrowed it down to based on what she's best at are

English language and literature combined*
Media studies*
Fine Art*
Textiles Tech

So we need to turn nine possibles into four... The starred options are the ones she thinks so far she would want to go for.

Any ideas anyone please? Are these good choices?

She has a careers interview soon but we don't know exactly when and I actually don't trust the school to get it done in a timely fashion!

TiAAAAARGHo Thu 18-Oct-12 13:28:51

Would she want to go to university and if so which one would she look at? Russell group may not like media studies though you'd need to check their websites. I also recommend checking entry requirements for any potential courses (will physics be ok or do they insist on maths - doubt it would be an issue but do recommend you check).

Those points aside, they look like good choices (sufficiently demanding while being aimed in the direction she thinks she wants to head in).

Puddlet Thu 18-Oct-12 13:36:33

I would be wary of the media studies - she has English which is much more "respectable" in academic terms. I think English, Art, Maths and Physics would be a really strong combination and an interesting mix of the creative and the scientific. Journalism careers are incredibly competitive (after all who buys papers these days?) but one area that she might consider is the trade press. A scientific background could really help and would mark her out as different from all the other arts graduates.

HauntedLittleLunatic Thu 18-Oct-12 13:39:27

As a trainee science teacher I would be cautious about physics in that combination. If she is genuinely passionate about it then great but it is one of the toughest a level subjects to do, particularly without a level maths alongside. It's not a subject to select to fill a gap, and it rather sticks out as non complimentary to the other subjects.

lubeybooby Thu 18-Oct-12 13:53:19

Thanks all

Yes she wants to go to university but is unsure what the choices should be to get there, and also once there. RG suitability would be great.

She is on target for a B possibly A overall in Maths, and she is enjoying Physics but prefers Biology. The Physics teacher we spoke to last night just swayed her opinion on that a little.

She's also on target for A/A* in English lit and language

She was really keen on the media studies idea, is that really viewed so badly? I was unsure about that anyway as she hasn't done the GSCE in it so...

I don't think anything is set in stone at the moment, and she could be gently directed away from the journalism idea if I could find something else that was appealing to her.

mamhaf Thu 18-Oct-12 13:58:34

Don't touch media studies with a bargepole. She doesn't need it to work in the media, and if she's academically capable, traditional subjects like English Lit, maths and physics would stand her in more stead.

Similarly media or journalism at uni - thousands of young people doing these courses, thinking it'll lead directly to a job in the media and it rarely does, waste of fees imho.

Zippylovesgeorge Thu 18-Oct-12 14:01:52

Be warned if she only achieves a B in Maths she will find the A level hard - this seems the case in my childs school - only those with A/A* seem to cope - the B graders drop out before AS exams.

lubeybooby Thu 18-Oct-12 14:02:07

Thanks this is all really helpful.

I've been an avid reader of anything to do with further education on MN, I had DD when I was 16 and went straight into motherhood and work, and did all my GCSE's, A levels and now a degree via distance learning/night school and now the OU so I have absolutely no experience or idea in it!

So this is really an alien world to me and I'm determined to learn as much as I can about it all to help DD make the best choices.

Lilymaid Thu 18-Oct-12 14:04:24

Have a look at the Russell Group's Informed Choices guide. This explains the A level choices preferred for university entrance for that type of university.

Zippylovesgeorge Thu 18-Oct-12 14:04:55

Its very hard for them to have to choose so early in the school year. Whilst my son had to say roughly what he was interested in, he didn't have to decide 100% until after results day - he'd decided he wouldn't do anything he didn't get A/A* in - he was lucky and had plenty of choice.

lubeybooby Thu 18-Oct-12 14:08:27

A bit of further info about DD in case it's helpful...

She is capable of getting the A in Maths as long as she puts the revision in. I am pretty confident that she will manage it.

She is a very hard worker and has dragged up her grades massively (from C's and D's) and moved up the various groups since the beginning of high school to being in top for Science and English and 2nd from top for Maths and consistently doing well with those with A and B grades (more A than B) and up to a Merit with Art from a pass.

Her undeniable top strength is English although she's very capable with pretty much everything else too - a Jill of all trades.

I don't think anything except English comes so naturally to her though and anything else requires a lot of consideration, study and revision - but she's happy to do it and prefers to be in with a book rather than out.

lubeybooby Thu 18-Oct-12 14:09:41

Thanks Lilymaid I'll have a look

HauntedLittleLunatic Thu 18-Oct-12 14:14:02

If she prefers biology I really would go with that over physics.

Physics is hard and very abstract. A level physics is a world apart from gcse. It is also very very mathematical. There is strong evidence that pupils that take maths and physics are more likely to get better grades than those that don't take maths with it.

TheFlumpsHaveEyes Thu 18-Oct-12 14:16:29

I was listening to something on the radio recently where an expert (sorry cannot remember who!) was saying that any A level subjects with 'studies' in the name are basically a waste of time as they carry very little weight when applying for a uni place.

I've been told the same thing by a head teacher I know.

Sympathique Thu 18-Oct-12 14:35:48

Don't think anyone has commented on Art, but it's a fantastic A level - for a hard worker(!). Not all universities count it as a 'proper' A level for admissions, at least for some courses, but some/a lot do(?) It was OK for DD1 for some of her RG-level universities but not all - she stuck with 4 A2s as a result tho' she would still have got to a good university looking at what offers she got. Worth asking at school, they should know. Not a reason not to do it.

DD2 wasn't allowed to do A-level maths from ~bottom of top GCSE set tho' she got GCSE A* but suspect that was just the school, maybe even a teacher. You gain a lot from doing a subject you find hard even if you don't get a top grade. In these days of grade-chasing that can get overlooked. Tho' it might not be the way to go if you are looking to get onto course demanding high grades. Pity.

LaCiccolina Thu 18-Oct-12 14:46:56

Based on the information given I would go for English, textiles, biology.

English is a good solid exam and will stand her in good stead across subjects and future changes of mind career wise. Don't forget journalism can be a good one to work flexibly in, not VIP now but in 15yrs could be vital in her life.

Textiles; it's easier to be free-er with your creativity. It also broadens well into social history, history and geography. Fine art can mean people narrow their view of you and what you can do. She could move into fashion well too.

Biology: she likes it. Sometimes that's more important than anything else.

Don't get to scientific about all this yet. She needs to pick subjects she likes and can face 2 hard years of. This is often harder than Uni.

For crissakes avoid media studies, shouts loser unfortunately.....

out2lunch Thu 18-Oct-12 14:46:59

my dd is in year 11 so we are also at this stage
my ds has just started uni so we also did this two years ago
i would forget media - not a v highly regarded subject choice as others upthread have stated
ds had tutoring with gcse maths to get to a A/B grade - he ended up a few marks off an A - took A level maths but dropped after first year - imo it is for A/A* pupils it was far too difficult and fast moving for him.physics does seem to go with maths so if your dd is not taking maths then forget physics - i would def consider biology esp if dd is good at it.
we try to pick the subjects they perform best at/the ones they enjoy and ones that would cover a range for uni.
dd loves history and is predicted an A at gcse also english lang is prob an A too she is already doing AS german this year so may continue with that - the last subject we are not sure - maybe a science or sociology.
i remember being a bit overwhelmed when ds had to choose a levels - mn helped of course but we went through the prospectus and crossed out subjects that he wouldn't qualify for or wasn't interested in and then made our choices from what remained.
good luck.

MordionAgenos Thu 18-Oct-12 14:55:52

My DD1 is in Y10 but they do GCSEs early at her school and have a 3 year 6th form so she is also at this stage. She is determined that her A levels will be Music, English, History and Geography. She wants to do music as a career, so the music is a necessity. She is predicted GCSE A*s for all those subjects, so, fine, she could do them and they are all highly aademic and also what she loves BUT I do worry about her having a heavy workload. And I am also concerned about her not having anything STEM at all in her A level portfolio. She is predicted GCSE A* for maths also and I'd really like her to dump geog in favour of maths (it would be light relief since maths is not exactly hard work if you can do it - and she can. I appreciate it's very hard work if you can't do it. But that's not her). She spends so much time practising and performing in various ensembles etc that I really feel that an easier A level would be better, and with maths she has the option of an easy A level which has the same credibility as something hard like geography (which needs a lot of work, a lot of hours). But she won't listen. sad

Sympathique Thu 18-Oct-12 15:02:29

MordionAgenos: sympathy. Too little sleep coming her way. Maths is useful (not essential) for Music. Keeps them thinking that way which helps with some bits of some courses. They do what they want tho'.

lubeybooby Thu 18-Oct-12 15:03:11

It's going to be tricky convincing her that media studies isn't great. The teacher really sold it to her last night, one of her friends is choosing it, and they have a trip to New York every year - but she is a very sensible girl so she will listen to me eventually. Just going to have a bit of work decontructing the argument for it!

Thank you again everyone for the advice. Please feel free to keep it coming if anyone else has any other gems to add

ivesufferedenoughfools Thu 18-Oct-12 15:20:51

I'm going to buck the trend here. 8 years ago, my DB did media studies at A level. He's now a top TV producer and earns an absolute fortune. He didn't go to the 'best' university objectively speaking, but did in terms of where was good for his chosen specialism. The last show he did won a Bafta and he isn't even thirty. Pretty good for someone who went to a former poly.
DB2 focused on business during his A levels. Now doing a PhD in something completely unrelated so it's eminently possible to change your mind as life changes. DB2 will be a Dr by the time he's 30.
Just saying that whilst it may seem like it at the time, A level choices do not have to be the be all and end all. I'd say go for what she enjoys as that's where she's more likely to be successful.

mummytime Thu 18-Oct-12 17:06:24

I really wouldn't do Media studies with any kind of English A'level. They both teach very similar skills, so although I know some teachers who see Media studies as a good subject despite its reputation, however I doubt most of these would recommend doing it with English.

cricketballs Thu 18-Oct-12 17:07:54

I wholeheartedly second what Ivesuffered has said - A levels are tough enough so they need to enjoy and have an interest in the subject they are studying; no matter what the majority on mn say, even RG unis will go with a subject like media studies if backed up with the traditional academic subjects.

chickydoo Thu 18-Oct-12 17:12:42

Many sixth forms don't allow kids to take physics A level unless they take maths too.
At my DD's sixth form students had to get A or A* in GCSe Maths & physics before going on to A levels in those subjects.
If she is mathematically minded then your DD should give it a go

PrincessOfChina Thu 18-Oct-12 17:14:50

I too am going to buck the trend and say that if she's very keen on the Media Studies A Level then she should do it. My A Levels were in English Language, Sociology and Communication Studies (back in the day when you only did 3).

I went to the University of Leicester and studied what was then the 2nd best Communication/Media Studies course in the country. I believe Leicester is a top 20 university, although not Russell Group. I knew what I was good at and enjoyed and that showed in my results at both A Level and degree level. I have an MA and now work in Internal Comms for a household name.

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