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College advises taking 2nd facillitating subject - 4 weeks into course!

(24 Posts)
doglover Thu 01-Oct-15 14:32:14

Our dd has made a fantastic start at sixth form college after achieving really well at GCSE. She decided to take Eng Lit, Music, Media and Critical Art at AS and is LOVING life!

She had a Progress Review Meeting with her tutor this morning which has rather put the cat among the pigeons ........

He said that, after talking to her other teachers, she is demonstrating the potential necessary to apply to 'top' universities and they're not sure whether her current subjects would help her to get there. He has suggested her considering swapping to study History and dropping Critical Art. She could sit in on a History lesson next week to get a 'feel' for the subject and would be helped to catch up with the work already covered.

Independently, over the summer, we did contact several 'middle ranking' universities to see if her AS selection would be suitable for her to study an English/Media course and they were all happy. We didn't even consider 'top' universities because her inner-city comp wasn't really geared up for this opportunity.

Obviously, we will sit down and discuss her options this evening but any advice would be REALLY welcome! She doesn't know yet what career path she'd like to follow but is certainly looking to combine Eng Lit/media at university. I'm not even sure that 'top' universities offer such courses!


lljkk Thu 01-Oct-15 14:54:50

Quite a few blogs & other Internet articles like this one make facilitating subjects sound like a stupid myth.

imho, best subjects to take are usually the ones your DD loves.

bigTillyMint Thu 01-Oct-15 15:31:37

Has she found any courses combining EngLit/media that she fancies?
Does she have to go to a "top" university?
Does she like History enough to drop one she likes for it?
What are the school envisaging that she should be aming to take at uni?

Great that the school have noticed her potential and are offering for her to do a taster lesson in History. Definitely worth pursuing that unless she is definite that she doesn't want to do it - then she can make a decision with your and their support.

bigTillyMint Thu 01-Oct-15 15:35:11

Interesting, lljkk

Mrsjayy Thu 01-Oct-15 15:36:44

Thats fa b they have spotted her potential id thank them for that and let her carry on its also great for the college to feed into top universities.

lljkk Thu 01-Oct-15 17:03:44

2 yrs ago the RG were asked to produce research that facilitating subjects actually matter.

Anyone got a link to results RG easily could have turned out by now?

senua Thu 01-Oct-15 17:20:46

Facilitating subjects are those that are most often requested by RG universities i.e. if you don't know, when you start Y12, what subject you might like to read then doing FSs will keep options open.
If you know that you want to study A and the subjects required for this are XYZ, then do XYZ. An often quoted example is music: it's not an FS because it's not asked for in other departments but it's essential for music!

There is an alternative list from Trinity Cambridge. It sorts A Levels into 'proper hard', 'not quite so hard' and 'don't bother us with this'.
Eng Lit and Music are on the proper hard list.

bigTillyMint Thu 01-Oct-15 17:53:06

That Trinity list is interesting, Senua.

DD has 3 from the A list and one from the B list, so she could easily drop an A-lister after AS if she wants --and makes it through to AS exams--grin

doglover Thu 01-Oct-15 17:53:32

Just making dinner - many thanks for replies - will be back to catch-up a bit later!

HildaFlorence Thu 01-Oct-15 18:05:38

I think the issue at this stage is at if she doesn't know what she wants to do then she needs to keep as many options open as possible .Is she doing music AS or BTEC ?
Its not really just about whether facilitating subjects mean better degree results but more that if she is in competition with someone with comparable grades in English history and music she may well lose out to them simply because the more traditional universities will value those core subjects .Plenty of higher ranking universities offer media, journalism , creative arts courses by the way

What is critical art by the way , is it art history by another name ?

doglover Thu 01-Oct-15 19:40:28

I'm back!

Thanks again for the replies. We've had a lengthy conversation and dd will be sitting in on 4 history lessons next week (during her study periods) so she can make an informed decision. At this point, she'll need to make up her mind ..... History or Critical Art.

I've had a quick look at the Russell Group universities list and very few would appear to offer an English/Media option: Cardiff looks like it has a great course though!

DD is doing Music AS.

Her AS art course is actually titled Critical and Contextual Art ....... yes, some art history but more analytic and interpretative.

HildaFlorence Thu 01-Oct-15 19:56:35

Maybe also look at Goldsmiths , Sheffield, Leeds and UEA , I think they all have media options .I would recommend calling a few admissions tutors , they are usually really helpful before she makes a decision , it would be a shame to give up a asubject she loves if it's not necessary

doglover Thu 01-Oct-15 20:51:34

Thanks, HF, that's a really good idea.

Clavinova Fri 02-Oct-15 08:39:27

What the Eddie Playfair article doesn't point out is that over half the students from Newham Sixth Form College who went on to a Russell Group Uni in 2013 went to Queen Mary University London, also in London's East End and I would imagine that there is some sort of positive discrimination going on there for students without two facilitating subjects. OP needs to check the destination stats for the sixth form her dc is attending and phone admissions tutors as suggested. What were her GCSE results?

doglover Fri 02-Oct-15 09:40:01

Thanks Clavinova.

Dd achieved 5 A*, 4 A and 3 B.

doglover Fri 02-Oct-15 16:48:07

I contacted some RG universities today and, although the admission tutors were very pleasant, they couldn't give me any further information regarding 1 or 2 facilitating subjects. They tended to say, "Look at the website for subject specifications", but we've already done that! They specify Eng Lit at A/A* at A level and nothing else ...... they wouldn't commit to saying it would be preferable or it would be advantageous ...

We're not really any further forward!

viewwater Fri 02-Oct-15 17:06:44

I might be missing something but could n't she just change to History of Art rather than history? She would then have 3 facilitating subjects and the only 'soft' one would be Media.

doglover Fri 02-Oct-15 17:45:48

Unfortunately her college doesn't History of Art.

doglover Fri 02-Oct-15 17:46:11


Millymollymama Fri 02-Oct-15 19:35:40

Not sure if the Universities of Sheffield or Leeds offer courses with Media studies included. Sheffield Hallam and Leeds Beckett maybe. Goldsmiths and UEA are not Russell Group. Therefore if the school are suggesting Russell Group, what course do they, and you, have in mind? English Lit at Leeds and Sheffield are sought after and the subjects being taken at the moment are not best preparation for these courses and candidates taking History will be in a much stronger position. What subjects were her A*s in at GCSE?

I would try and be clear exactly what universities the school has in mind. The 3 other subjects she is studying at the moment have limited value with regard to English at Russell Group universities. I don't think even Music helps much with English but is fine if History is in the mix. I also think the question you need to ask is: "What A level subjects should my DD take to give her the best chance of getting onto this course"?

Ricardian Fri 02-Oct-15 19:54:42

I've had a quick look at the Russell Group universities list and very few would appear to offer an English/Media option

There are a variety of reasons why a particular degree is only offered at less selective universities, and discussing why that might be is always good for a bunfight. But a degree in English and Media from a low-ranked university is not exactly a sought-after qualification, either by students or (in general) employers.

LooseAtTheSeams Sat 03-Oct-15 10:00:25

I think the best thing is to do the history taster lessons but be aware history is very demanding! The school has given some good advice. However, big caveat: if your dd is looking at English with a strong media/creative element then Middle-ranking universities are more likely to offer what she wants. There are a few things to check including work placements and graduate destinations 6 months after the course.
Cardiff would be a good choice, by the way, it has postgrad media courses as well.

Suffolkgirl1 Sun 04-Oct-15 11:48:54

Another option would be to look at the Liberal arts courses that are starting at several of the top universities. Popular in the US and many european unis, it would allow her to Major in eg English lit but also take courses in music, art history, film studies etc. DS is applying for Birmingham and UCL (as they do liberal arts and sciences, he would want to science major) but there are several other universities offering liberal arts in this country now.

doglover Sun 04-Oct-15 13:22:44

Thanks Suffolkgirl1. We'll look at those courses smile

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