ds is asking me for advice about choosing his A-levels and I havent a clue.(26 Posts)
He wants to do english and philosophy, maybe geography. Cant decide between history or politics.
He has absolutely no idea what he wants to do at uni. Im a science person from a ridiculously sciencey family so havent got a clue. Do any wise mumsnetters have any thoughts. Perhaps which subjects give more flexibilty, more choice in careers etc. any subjects that are just pointless?
all advice appreciated.
I agree to check out the actual content and structure of the courses - for history is the only option modern history (Hitler, Stalin etc again as most will already have done this for GCSE) or do they offer different time periods (the Tudors is a popular one at the moment).
What geography units do they do? I know now I loved Geography but we did a massive long unit involving soil, biospheres etc - too boring and science based for me and put me off taking it at uni.
English - Lit or Lang? If its Lit, what books do they study?
The other thing I found was that the big deadlines for history and geography were very close together. All three are very heavy essay subjects, so you might want to ask if they co-ordinate course work hand in dates between departments, and what help would be available if he was struggling with work load.
The only comment I would make is that if he has any thoughts of going on to do a Geography degree he may need another science at A level.
Is it possible for him to start of taking all five subjects and seeing how he gets on. He could then drop the one he likes the least. He might find he gets a brilliant teacher in politics and a terrible one for history.
I also agree that he should take the ones he is most interested in.
Have you checked out the balence of course work verses exams with each subject? If he favours one over the other it may influence his choice.
Although schools like to know what subjects the DC's will be taking but, I imagine, most schools allow the students to change their choices after they have their GCSE results. This would give your son lots of time to mull this over.
I'd advise History over Politics.
The marking for Philosophy can be very, very, very, very mecurial. But if that's what he wants to do....
I studied English Lit, History, Politics and French at A level. Loved them all, and thought Politics was brilliant (had a v good, hilarious teacher though).
I would go for English, History and Geography as the teaching tends to be more reliable, and the subjects have a lot of variety.
My son did History, English and Philosophy and Maths. Dropped Maths after AS and wished he's done Politics as it was more highly regarded as a compliment subject for his course at Oxford. He loved Philosophy but it's hard - no coursework and the A2 was all assessed in June so no chance of a resit if it had been needed. They all compliment each other well and as other posts have said are highly regarded. English Lit more so than English Language btw.
I am minded to think that if he's unsure, he does what sounds most appealing, for sure.
I am biased towards English, Philosophy & History. Complement well.
I am a geographer,btw, I feel that History & Geography complement incredibly well, too.
Our 6th form said Govt & Politics was a very strong choice academically... and also sounds fascinating, and I would think a very useful grounding for life as a voter?!!
Any combination of those A Levels will provide a solid foundation for just about any essay-based subject.
I would, however, dispute the idea that politics is necessarily dry - of the four people who did A Level politics at my school, three went onto do politics or a variation thereof at uni, and the fourth went on to do law.
Is he planning to do three or four? English + Philosophy + Geog + Hist/Politics would leave pretty much all humanities and social sciences degrees I can think of open to him. It's not the same as in sciences where for certain courses you have to have done Chemistry or whatever IYSWIM.
Out of history/politics I would slightly err on the side of History purely because if he ends up going on to study History (or Classics, Archaeology etc) at university it will be a logical progression and he won't have to be explaining why he didn't do it for A-level; whereas plenty of people study politics at university without having done it for A-level, because the A-level isn't as widely offered.
But that's not a huge preference, if he's more attracted to Politics - best thing might be to get a look at the syllabuses and see what sounds inspiring.
Have the school not employed any careers service?
I do think History is pushed on to anyone vaguely thinking of English as apparently they "go well together", and "History is a strong subject", yes you keep telling me, but the History syllabus might be a turn off in terms of content for some and Gov/Politics more appropriate.
My dd is absolutely loving A level Philosophy- her brain is going off like a firework! I would thoroughly recommend it. Exhausting to live with though!
As I teacher, I disagree that Politics A level isn't academic. We send students to Oxbridge and Russell Group unis every year with Govt and Politics at A level. All those subjects are academic, and would be fine for uni courses. The subjects to avoid if you don't want anything considered "soft" are social sciences (Sociology in particular - Psychology less so), Media Studies-type subjects and Law.
I agree with Hipster he should go for what he most enjoys. However, this is a useful guide, published free online by the Russell Group:-
Agree with Almost that the most important factor is whether or not your DS enjoys these subjects/thinks he would enjoy them.
I suggest he and you obtain as much information as possible from the school about the A levels he is interested in. The syllabus for a subject can vary from school to school depending on which exam board they use and the teacher's own personal preferences, ie. which books are selected for English literature.
One final point - please encourage your DS to choose subjects where he has a realistic chance of getting at least a grade B at GCSE. If not then he will find the A level very challenging.
so am i hipster. No point in doing something you hate only to get mediocre results in it.
thank you dede thats exactly the sort of thing I needed to hear.
Pary, thats what he went to with his dad. fortunately they talked him out of the sciences he was insisting on. (strict asian father with unrealistic expectations) So Im very happy with them. iyswim.
I'm a great believer in taking the subjects that you enjoy the most - you're going to want to work more than if you do a subject that you think you should and self-motivation is key at A level.
If he really can't decide, I'd suggest English, History and Geography - the other two are a bit dry, in my opinion, so might be difficult to get excited by IYKWIM.
Has there been any sort of careers fair at school or any open evenings at college? The people there would help with this most definitely. We went to the college open evening and found it very useful.
We are lucky with DS, he knows what he wants to do and which A Levels he wants to take - Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing.
I did history, economics and English. Then a history/politics degree and then law training and became a solicitor.
These are all sound A levels, not so sure about politics however - probably fine but I would push for history.
These A levels would be good for law, management, accountancy I would have thought most professions.
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