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Dd hasn't chosen any facilitating subjects for A Levels. Should I worry?

(48 Posts)
PossumInAPearTree Sun 15-Jan-17 19:33:59

She's chosen product design, photography and religious studies.

She wants to do a graphic design degree and either wants to be a graphic designer or maybe a graphic design teacher. She currently is doing a graphic design gcse and is predicted an A*, teacher says her work is degree level work.

So she has a talent and for her future choices I know her a levels are ok but I worry a bit what if in year 13 she decides she's had enough of graphic design and doesn't want to carry on with that degree path/career path?

She loves photography and I don't think will entertain any idea of not doing it either.

RalphSteadmansEye Sun 15-Jan-17 20:19:12

Well, it's always an issue that if you plan on an art based degree and take two art (or design) A levels, it's going to be a bit harder to switch to an academic/essay degree if you change your mind.

Ds is currently fifty-fifty between an essay subject at Uni or an art degree, so he's decided on one art A level and two written subjects for sixth form, which keeps his options open.

Could your dd do an EPQ in sixth form on a written subject she's interested in? She'll then have one and a half "written" A levels and two practical ones?

lljkk Sun 15-Jan-17 20:28:33

Could do a foundation year, maybe, as alternative to A-levels, if she wants to do the complete change. There are other paths, besides A-levels.

NotThrowAwayMyShot Sun 15-Jan-17 20:28:50

Religious Studies is a respected academic A level but I do think that Product Design AND Photography couod be quite limiting.

ChocolateWombat Sun 15-Jan-17 20:38:55

I agree that these subjects are great for someone who definitely wants to do art (although even then, 2 art related a levels are not necessary and don't confer advantage) but limiting in terms of keeping options open.

Ask your DC to read the leaflet from the Sutton Trust about Facilitating Subjects and uni applications - you'll easily find it online.

It partly depends on how academic your child is. So, if they are on for As and A* at GCSE and would be considering Russell Group Uni then having those facilitating subjects will be important if child doesn't go for art. If they are more the B/C type who are likely to go for non RG uni then it won't be as important.

It is worth bearing in mind that in terms of job applications too, if child ever works in a non art based area, having more academic qualifications might help.

Overall, I would aim for 2 academic subjects and 1 art A Level. If possible get a facilitating subject in. It will just give more options. I'm not an artist and keen artists might recommend the 2xart but from a pragmatic point of view, a broader spread is prob good. Plenty of people who go to art college only have 1xart a level and many institutions/schools would only allow 1 anyway.

ChocolateWombat Sun 15-Jan-17 20:43:57

And if your DD finds it hard to take this advice from you, ask the school or college to speak with her about it.
Kids are often hugely impressed by the idea of 'new subject' a levels which sound exciting and more interesting that the dull old school subjects......but they don't realise the impact it can have on their choices. The Sutton Trust leaflet is written for 5th formers choosing options and spells out the implications.

So, many top unis will only consider 1 art Alevel. Some will only consider certain types of art a level. This is all really important information to know before submitting the form......and if it's already done, it's possible to change her mind.

GeneralIssues Sun 15-Jan-17 21:39:19

This what a level subjects do russell group universities prefer is an interesting read. I claim no knowledge of the author's credentials but it brings into question the message from the Informed Choices booklet.

FWIW, I think doing at least one 'facilitating subject' is pretty much essential for keeping options open. Doing two would be a good idea. However, if your daughter is talented, committed and certain, then following the path she is suggesting means she will enjoy and succeed in her A levels, which has to be a good thing.

Manumission Sun 15-Jan-17 21:42:55

If someone is absolutely set on a creative route at 16 then there's little point arguing and those A levels are fine.

She's lucky to have a strong vocational feeling. So many people don't.

Potcallingkettle Sun 15-Jan-17 21:49:48

Product design is a great A level for lots of careers. It is all about real life project management and the new spec takes the academic and written content to a new level. It is not just an art A level but contains significant amounts of Science and Maths too.

BertieBotts Sun 15-Jan-17 21:54:56

Do you have a vocational college anywhere near you? When I was 16 I did a BTEC national diploma in graphic design and it had very good links to university. Most of my classmates went straight on to uni from the course, they didn't have to do a foundation course and they got accepted to several good places. As it happened I struggled with the unstructured nature and ended up taking A Levels the year after. It was still funded because I hadn't done A Levels before and I was still under 19 when I started the second year. So it's perhaps more possible to change direction if things don't go as planned, but it's still very art-focused and practical if that's what she wants now. I would look into it and see if she's interested in that as an option. I know my friend who did art at A Level instead ended up not doing much with it. I don't think A Levels are very well structured for more vocational subjects personally.

BelafonteRavenclaw Sun 15-Jan-17 21:58:43

Those A-levels could lead to many possibly career paths. I did my undergraduate in Product Design and my classmates have gone on to a wide variety of careers. From illustration, graphic design, engineering, teaching, tech journalist, programmer, industrial designer, silversmith and a bmx/extreme sport track designer. To mention a few.

PossumInAPearTree Sun 15-Jan-17 22:08:41

Thanks everyone. She wants to do sixth form so college isn't an option.

I agree that she should do product design, it's more the photography I think she could do with dropping. She did mutter something about biology the other day, that she wished she could do 4 a levels so she could do biology instead. So will talk to her about not doing photography and do biology instead.

She's fairly academic but I don't think RG is something she would be bothered about. Predicted mainly As and some Bs.

Mrstumbletap Sun 15-Jan-17 22:21:21

If she doesn't want to go to a Russell group university and gets great results she will be fine.

A graphic design university course will be interested in her portfolio, and talking to her about her passion. Good ucas points too are obviously good. But she wants to do an art degree, they want to see her work, they will want to see the variety.

If she wanted to be a vet or a doctor it would be a problem, but she wants a creative degree, she will be fine.

I was wink

PossumInAPearTree Sun 15-Jan-17 22:36:08

I think she will get into an art degree fine. I'm more worried in case she changes her mind and decides actually she wants to do something like a law degree.

titchy Sun 15-Jan-17 22:50:58

There's no point in biology unless she's thinking about a biology degree and in that case she'd need another science. As lljkk says if she has a change of heart a foundation year is an option, although if she wants to do an art degree she may need to do a foundation year anyway (so prepare for a four year degree!).

If she's wobbling about commiting to art this early then another essay type subject would cover more basis. Sociology, history, maybe philosophy? Business studies? (Useful for artists!)

AtiaoftheJulii Sun 15-Jan-17 22:57:22

If she changed her mind she'll either apply with what she has and see what happens, or she'll take some extra time to sort out what she needs. You can't plan ahead for every eventuality.

catslife Mon 16-Jan-17 10:03:58

Hi OP my year 12 dd has similar ambitions and is taking 3 non facilitating A levels as well. If she continues with this aim, I don't think it will be a problem. The following is based on what I found out last year when dd applied for sixth form. She is at sixth form college and quite a few in the Art department are taking more than one creative subject.
Which Graphics GCSE is your dd taking - is it DT Graphic Products or Art Graphics? dd took Product Design GCSE and it was a bit less design orientated than she thought it would be - there were more marks for making the products. She is taking Graphic Comms for A level, but not many sixth forms offer this subject. It is also possible to do a level 3 BTEC in Graphic design as an alternative to A levels. (The extended BTEC may mean she can go straight to uni without a foundation year).
If she is considering teaching then that combination of A levels will be fine. They don't require at least one National curriculum subject and Religious Studies plus a DT subject will be fine. (I understand there is currently a shortage of RS teachers).

catslife Mon 16-Jan-17 10:05:51

Sorry, above post should read they do require at least one national curriculum subject for teaching degrees.

BagelGoesWalking Mon 16-Jan-17 10:12:45

Why can't she do 4 A Levels? My DD is doing Biology, Chemistry, Maths and History. She doesn't know if she'll drop one subject in the second year yet but it's an option. It's hard work but she's doing OK so far.

I think RS is a great subject, especially as it seems to be a much broader and interesting curriculum now, judging from the GCSE anyway. My niece is doing Photography A Level and I understand (from DD who has friends doing it as well) that it's time-consuming, as you have to prepare a portfolio etc.

Also, I'm not sure that Biology on it's own can lead to much. I think she would need to combine it with Maths or Chemistry to be more effective for degree level courses.

bojorojo Mon 16-Jan-17 10:18:34

DD did Photography, Art and Business Studies. She was always going to do an Arts degree and never anything academic. So sometimes facilitating subjects just have no place! She aced the Arts subjects with A*s so this was the best result for her and would not have been gained doing anything else. It was super hard work though!

If the universities are happy with these subjects for her course, then fine. Also with two arts subjects at A level you can get straight onto the degree course without foundation. As she is not doing Art, she has narrowed her choice of uni courses a bit. However she may well be focussed on what she wants which is good. We always take a dim view of arty people on MN and think they should do something else. Graphic Design and the Arts are a major industry in this country, so why not go into it as a career? My DD loved Photography A level by the way. It is hard work but fun at the same time. DD had an outstanding teacher and this makes a huge difference. Good luck to your DD and don't try and make her A levels a war between you. Support her talents.

PossumInAPearTree Mon 16-Jan-17 12:30:44

Thanks all, I feel better about it now.

All the schools are now saying not to do 4 a levels like people used to only a few years ago. A levels have changed, it's all final assessment or something.

I think it's graphic design gcse she does, certainly not product design and not graphic art. She does art and photography at gcse so is used to portfolio pressures. Someone in her sixth form currently does product design and photography a level and I know she's talked to that sixth former about work load because dd had been thinking about doing art at a level as well and thankfully the sixth former agreed that the workload would be crazy. Art is her weakest design subject which is why she's dropping that one even though I know it's the broader subject.

Cherryskypie Mon 16-Jan-17 12:55:13

If it's graphic design she's interested in you could encourage her to get in touch with successful graphic designers/companies and ask if they would be willing to meet her (with you) and talk about their work? You can ask about the route they took to get there and what qualifications they would be looking for when hiring people and what Universities are strong in graphic design. Your DD might get a chance to see some project examples.

I'm sure you'll get some knock backs but you've nothing to lose from it and if you find out which Universities and courses are good you can then look at what they look for as entry requirements. Work backwards IYSWIM. With things like Law it's easy enough to take facilitating subjects, go to a Russell Group uni and know that after 3 years you'll leave with a degree that will be useful to you. With things like graphic design I'd imagine it's a lot easier to end up at a University open day or post University looking for a job and suddenly discover that the qualifications you've got aren't the ones you need to get where you want to go. There are always sad stories on here from people who see DC only discovering at open days that they needed to have taken maths to get onto the computing degree they were always intending to do.

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 16-Jan-17 13:04:53

My DD does Graphic Design at Uni. To be honest you'd be pretty hard pushed to find a Russell Group Uni that even offers it. It is offered by the old Art Schools that nowadays tend to be based in what used to be the ex Polys.

My DD did Fine Art, Media and English A levels and then a foundation course, but many people on her course have A levels like your DD. None of the Unis she applied to were actually very interested in her A levels anyway; it was all about her interview and her portfolio.

PossumInAPearTree Mon 16-Jan-17 13:07:55

We've done the working backwards thing to some extent. We've got uni prospectuses and she's worked out which courses/unis she wants. She's looked at league tables, etc. So then she's looked at ucas points needed. Yes, they all talk about wanting to see a portfolio and mention needing an a level in a design type subject. Certainly no mention of facilitating subjects.

TinklyLittleLaugh Mon 16-Jan-17 13:14:16

DD's offers for Graphic design were either unconditional or based on her foundation course grade, and I think only one wanted more than a bare pass. It really is all about your work (which of course can be really good without getting a top grade at A level simply because you haven't done enough research or development).

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