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DS's A level choices - your opinion please

(91 Posts)
chococupcakes Fri 24-Feb-17 10:37:36

Hiya Mumsnetters,

My son has opted for the following if he stays at his current school:


Definitely a humanities kid and loves essays. The aim is a Russell group uni such as Oxbridge or Durham. He has no clue career wise what he wants to do and wishes to study History or History and something else (History and Politics for example). He also loved the sound of economics but mention maths and watch him coil.

Here are my issues:

1. I would prefer if he did at least one year of Maths even if he were to drop it after the first year to open up his options. To be able to do History and Economics, for example. or Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He may just scrape an A* in maths.

2. Psychology is being offered for the first time and so has no history of success.

3. The world is going so tech and so I cannot see how these subjects which although he adores can help him much for the future. He doesn't want to be a lawyer.

4. It's no point getting them to do subjects which they hate is always the advice as they won't do well in it.


Any advice would be most appreciated. We have a small amount of time left to change.

Thank you for reading.

Haggisfish Fri 24-Feb-17 10:39:00

Have you checked the history entry requirements for those unis to check those a levels would allow him to get on?

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Fri 24-Feb-17 10:41:13

You can have an opinion and offer advice if he asks for it, but that is as far as it goes. They are his choice to make, and if you don't agree I'm afraid that is tough.
As hard as it is, these are his decisions to make about his own future.

MidnightVelvetthe7th Fri 24-Feb-17 10:41:19

If the aim is Uni then look at the entry requirements for the courses he wishes to take & tailor the A levels to those.

I do think you are right though, in that if you try to force him to do a subject he doesn't enjoy then it won't go well.

maltesersarethedevil Fri 24-Feb-17 10:41:28

He may just scrape a A* in maths biscuit

frazzled3ds Fri 24-Feb-17 10:41:53

I understand your thoughts re Maths. It may well be different now, but when I was doing A level, I did Maths, having got an A at GCSE, and ended up with an E in AS Level Maths (had intended to do full A level but after failing 3 out of 4 modules taken, re-sat enough to get the AS and scraped a 'pass'). I found there to be quite a jump between GCSE and A level, and had additional lessons too to try and improve!

Bluntness100 Fri 24-Feb-17 10:42:30

I don't see anything wrong with his choices in line with what he wants to do at uni. I certainly don't think uou should force him to do maths or economics.

My daughter did English, history and government and politics, I didn't get involved in her choices, they were hers and should be something she wanted to study and liked, it's half the battle in terms of potential success, she came out with a or a star grades and is now in her second year of a law degree at a Russel group uni.

Let him make his own choices. There is nothing wrong with them.

mathsy Fri 24-Feb-17 10:55:02

I'm a maths teacher and there is a huge leap between gcse and a level maths. It requires a lot of work and effort to get a good grade at a level. But the most important thing is that the student must really, really enjoy doing maths. Puzzling over tricky problems and doing lots of practice are essential. He must be committed if he chooses it.

TeenAndTween Fri 24-Feb-17 10:55:09

Chemistry seems a bit of an outlier here? What's his rationale behind choosing it?

DorothyL Fri 24-Feb-17 10:58:13

My dd is planning on taking history, politics, French and chemistry, so very similar.

RaskolnikovsGarret Fri 24-Feb-17 11:00:00

The A levels themselves are fine. Just check whether psychology and politics are on the right 'list' to count for Oxbridge entry - I'm not sure.

RaskolnikovsGarret Fri 24-Feb-17 11:04:03

My DD has sort of chosen French, German, History and Latin, but is now thinking whether she should choose sciences and maths instead. She is equally good at languages and sciences, and is very good at maths, but doesn't love maths. She thinks sciences might lead to a better career, but the good courses seem to require further maths as well as maths, and she doesn't want to waste an option like that. She is happy to do 5 a levels, but I'm not keen.

PurpleDaisies Fri 24-Feb-17 11:06:40

She thinks sciences might lead to a better career, but the good courses seem to require further maths as well as maths, and she doesn't want to waste an option like that.

That's just not true. Where have you got that idea from?

chococupcakes Fri 24-Feb-17 11:11:45

Okay guys,

Thanks loads for your prompt and useful responses.

Yep, I have less influence now as a mum, happiness is key, although happy and unemployed not so cool eithersmile. They mature at different ages too right and in hindsight, what did I know about life at 15/16. The reasoning behind my suggestion of doing maths for a year was that to do something you hate for just one more year, to do more of what you love for three. He loves the sound of economics like I said and also to give him more options. It is such a critical decision and I guess I'm trying to avoid the usual, 'you were right mum.'

He actually wanted me to post it here to see what other parents had to say. He knows it's a big world out there and between us, we only know so much. He is my only son and I didn't go to uni. You never know what we may have missed despite our research.

Thanks again

chococupcakes Fri 24-Feb-17 11:18:15

@teenandtween: Russel group requires two facilitating subjects if you want to keep your options open. He would have chosen physics which he ALWAYS get's A*'s in (yep despite hating maths). Physics without maths at A'level however, is SO not recommended.

@Mathsy: Yes I'm aware of the jump and that it's really for those who simply adore it. It's why I suggested for one year only and then to drop it. For PPE at uni, some just require that you study it for a year.

Thx for feedback

ImperialBlether Fri 24-Feb-17 11:19:22

I would have thought Psychology would count as a very soft subject if he wants to go to Oxford. He might enjoy Sociology if he loves History and Politics. Philosophy or R.E. would be perfect, as would English Lit.

Bluntness100 Fri 24-Feb-17 11:20:58

>> The reasoning behind my suggestion of doing maths for a year was that to do something you hate for just one more year, to do more of what you love for three<<

I don't understand that reasoning, what benefit does it have? And why do something just to drop it, why not focus on the ones he does want to do and get the best possible results without spreading himself to thin and giving him extra stress?

Sorry, I genuinely don't understand your rationale here.

PurpleDaisies Fri 24-Feb-17 11:26:29

Chemistry is an odd choice for a stand alone science. It's another one where there's a huge jump to a level and if he is only doing it as a facilitating subject he's much better doing physics. Yes, physics without maths is more work but if he loves it and puts the effort in he's much more likely to do well. I've had pupils with a*s who didn't do a level maths.

TeenAndTween Fri 24-Feb-17 11:26:40

I realise Chemistry is a 'facilitating subject', but in the context of the other choices, why has he rejected English Lit, or a MFL for example?

aginghippy Fri 24-Feb-17 11:30:16

If he really hates maths, he shouldn't be doing it. A level maths is hard. He will be miserable and won't do well.

All education is not vocational. If you cannot see how studying subjects he adores in depth at a top university can help him for the future, I would advise you to broaden your thinking about education.

Advise him to look at the entry requirements of a few likely courses at potential universities. I think he will find that his choices are fine.

Twistmeandturnme Fri 24-Feb-17 11:35:45

I think that it's a fine mix. 2 classic facilitating subjects, Psychology is such an interesting subject; in a world where emotional intelligence is as importance as academia the ability to understand those around you better is a real life skill. The politics is the outlier imo, but will sit well with History if that is what he chooses.

mathsy Fri 24-Feb-17 11:35:48

We have so many year 12 students who choose maths a level as it looks good on a UCAS form - but they don't really like maths. They struggle all year, have to attend after school sessions as they're behind, we even have to put some on "homework watch". This includes students who got A* at GCSE. But if he's willing to make the commitment - then go for it!

boys3 Fri 24-Feb-17 11:46:24

If your DS has aspirations for Cambridge or Durham for History then he will need to taking subjects that he is genuinely serious about studying, enjoys being committed to, and of course has a genuine aptitude to do exceptionally well in.

DS1 currently reading History at Cambridge - whilst only one of his A levels overlap with your DS's potential selection, the one's your DS has chosen look fine. Chemistry may not be an obvious fit, but if it something he enjoys and does well in then I do not see any problem whatsoever.

My only real question would be why 4 A levels when all will be linear by the time he is taking them. Anecdote only but DCs from DS1's old school which has a good oxbridge record take 3 as standard (FM being the standard exception). Those holding offers from Oxbridge and doing three A levels have a three subject offer - DN who is doing 4 A levels has a 4 A level offer.

TeenAndTween Fri 24-Feb-17 11:50:57

OP initially stated Definitely a humanities kid and loves essays. which is why I am querying Chemistry. If he is interested in it that's fine, but if it has been chosen just because it's 'facilitating' that would be another matter.

Donthate Fri 24-Feb-17 11:54:43

Psychology very maths based, chemistry very different to his other choices but nice to have a mix.

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