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A-level choices to keep options open? (For architecture maybe..or finance..or who knows!)

(38 Posts)
AmITwirly Sun 14-Dec-14 19:25:14

My DS (15) has to choose his A-level options now!

His school requires him to choose 4 subjects & he's certain about wanting to do Maths and Geography. He's waivering between the following other choices:

Economics (which he's never done before, but likes the sound of)
Geology (which he did for GCSE in Y9 so he knows he's good at it)
Physics (which he seems naturally good at, but he finds a bit dull)
Chemistry (which he enjoys a lot, but has to work hard at and probably won't get as high a grade as his Physics)

Last week, he did a week's work experience in an Architecture practice and absolutely loved it. Looking at Architecture courses, it seems that they are generally pretty unfussed about the specific A-levels you do, although Maths is considered helpful; but they do need high grades (AAA) which DS might not get.

He also quite likes the idea of finance / banking / business.

So - what to do to keep these options open?? (Or indeed to keep as many options open as possible, because he may well change his mind completely by this time next year!)

For enjoyment he would probably choose: Maths, Geography, Geology & Economics. Would he be better including Physics, because Maths & Physics I think would then keep other engineering / design-based courses open too?

Arrrgh! Anyone out there with any thoughts?

senua Sun 14-Dec-14 19:32:15

Geography and Geology sound a bit same-y.

If Geography is a favourite of his and a possible then look at entry requirements - a Physical Geography degree will require Chemistry.

DoctorDonnaNoble Sun 14-Dec-14 19:35:41

Is Further Maths a possibility? My sixth form form are currently enjoying that. They also think Physics is better at A level than GCSE.

hellsbells99 Sun 14-Dec-14 19:36:24

I thought maths and art were normally needed for architecture?
Maths & physics go well together.
Chemistry, maths & geology would go well together.

AmITwirly Sun 14-Dec-14 19:44:26

Thanks for the responses so far.

I didn't know that some Geography courses would require Chemistry - that's interesting.

I don't think DS is strong enough to do Further Maths, but I'm interested that you say Physics is better at A-level than GCSE: any idea why?

Funnily enough, Art A-level isn't required for most Architecture degrees, just the submission of a small portfolio (which DS could easily produce). He's good at Art and is doing it for GCSE, but won't continue it for A-level.

The school hasn't explained why the DCs need to choose 4 subjects: I assume one will be dropped after AS levels, so perhaps doing Geology together with Geography as a 4th option to be dropped, would be OK?

DoctorDonnaNoble Sun 14-Dec-14 19:50:18

They just find it more interesting. Ties in with Maths a lot as well.
If he wants to keep options open I wouldn't do geology as well as geography - you don't need geology to study it at university.

Farahilda Sun 14-Dec-14 19:54:36

They'll want to see a mix of sciences and arts/humanities for architecture.

With maths and geography as two choices, I'd add physics and D&T.

You don't mention D&T though - is it at all a possible subject for him?

senua Sun 14-Dec-14 20:03:17

If you don't think that his Maths is up to FM then I think you are ruling out engineering courses.

How closely has he looked into architecture? I get the impression that they all go into it thinking that they will be the next Norman Foster but the reality is that you end up designing ticky-tacky boxes for mass housebuilders. It's also a very long course so v expensive.

AmITwirly Sun 14-Dec-14 20:09:34

No, unfortunately he's dropped DT. (He goes to a grammar school and, although the academic subjects are very well taught, Art and Design are both rather weak.)

Would Maths, Geography, Physics, Economics be considered a good enough mix of sciences & humanities do you think? I'm thinking that might be the best combination if it's acceptable for Architecture; as I think it would also be OK for Geography (human geography) and/ or something finance-related, should DS go down either of those routes.

It's difficult when the DCs don't have a clear idea what they are aiming for, isn't it?

DoctorDonnaNoble Sun 14-Dec-14 20:10:53

Looks quite good to me (previous yr11 tutor at grammar school).

Bonsoir Mon 15-Dec-14 07:29:25

Maths, Physics, Economics, Geigraphy

SecretSquirrels Mon 15-Dec-14 10:45:22

It's very difficult when they don't know what they want to do. Your mix sounds fine to me.
Maths and Geography are a good start. I wouldn't recommend Further Maths unless very strong. Economics is one of those subjects you don't need at A level to do a degree (like Law), but is a good 4th subject.
DS2 is 16 and was in a similar position. He chose Maths Physics, chemistry and Biology. He was reluctant to do Chemistry but chose it to keep his options open and much to his surprise it is now his favourite. Physics he is finding dull whereas he enjoyed it at GCSE but there is some overlap with Maths and Physics.

GotToBeInItToWinIt Mon 15-Dec-14 10:52:28

I did a law degree but ended up in finance, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I chose my a-levels so took English lit, French, Biology and Art. I thought they would keep my options open nicely smile. It seems like your DS's interests generally lie in a different area to mine though. To be honest I would just pick what he enjoys as if you enjoy a subject you are generally more likely to do well at it.

TalkinPeace Mon 15-Dec-14 14:45:34

a Physical Geography degree will require Chemistry.
Mine didn't
Physics was much more useful

MillyMollyMama Mon 15-Dec-14 17:51:11

For a Architecture, it is usually a very good idea to have design or art in your subjects. See the University of Bath's requirements. They like a mix of maths/science/arts subjects. Architects do need to draw and some universites might ask for a portfolio.

I think a law degree would now require an essay/research subject which French, Biology and Art do not provide.

Engineering courses are best served by Maths, Physics and Further Maths if you can plus another which facilities your interest in engineering, eg Chemistry, Geology, Geography etc. Maths, Physics, Economics and Geography would definitely be OK for Business courses. The best Engieeering courses will also want AAA, like Architecture, or even more! However, art ability is not needed and job prospects are better.

roguedad Wed 17-Dec-14 22:17:39

Maths, Further Maths, Art and Physics would do the best job of keeping options in architecture, finance and engineering all open. Geography, Chemistry, Geology, Chemistry and Economics at A level are pretty inessential to all three subjects at university. The son of a friend is right in the middle of applying to good unis for architecture and I get the feeling that maths and art are the key topics in reality. Finance is best done on a sound maths background, but A level economics would not hurt.

ACynicalWil Thu 18-Dec-14 02:20:04

Getting him to do architecture is a great way to shoot him in the foot.

Architects are needed less and less. Send him down a finance or computer engineering course.

GotToBeInItToWinIt Thu 18-Dec-14 07:51:34

Milly I only did my degree a couple of years ago at one of the best law schools in the country, they didn't specify subjects. Of course it may have changed drastically in the past 3 years.

LIZS Thu 18-Dec-14 07:54:00

dh did all humanities, a history degree and has worked in finance and banking since uni. Don't let that option dictate A levels. I would have said Art, Graphic Design or DT for architecture though.

jessabell Thu 18-Dec-14 08:04:37

Art a level is required for architecture as daughter studying this at uni at moment. She studied maths as, art,german,physics to a2. The course she on is doing a lot of drawing. Lots of model making. In studio from 9:00-10:00 at night depending on deadlines.

dodo3 Thu 18-Dec-14 08:07:05

AmazingDisgrace Thu 18-Dec-14 10:37:32

Geography does not require chemistry, that's nonsense. Most geography degree courses specify geography, some ( I think Edinburgh for one) do want a science A level but don't specify which.

SG29 Thu 18-Dec-14 14:45:52

For finance/economics maths and further maths would be the most important. (Getting there via humanities would be much more difficult and isn't usual, even if occasionally managed.) Economics really would not be necessary at A-level, although it could help him decide whether he is interested in pursuing it. For other types of business, it wouldn't matter too much but maths and geography are good options.

I have read that the unemployment rate for architects is about 30%. Some of the more technical building related areas seem to offer more potential, for example civil engineering. Very maths heavy however, I would assume.

MillyMollyMama Thu 18-Dec-14 17:30:48

I worded my Law advice a bit strongly. You are right GotToBeInIt, that essay subjects are not required, but some potential students would find the independent research and written communication required on a law degree a challenge if they had studied French, Art and Biology at A level as none of these really require the type of research and writing required for a law degree. That is not to say these subjects are not worthwhile, (my DD did MFL at university) but wouldn't university law departments rather see History or English in the mix when making offers?

senua Thu 18-Dec-14 18:22:31

Geography does not require chemistry.

I didn't say Geography. I said Physical Geography.

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