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Son has not a clue what he wants to do
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aroundincircles21 · 21/07/2017 17:41

My son is waiting for his AS results so is at the Planning for Uni stage but he has absolutely no clue what he wants to do! He's doing Maths, Physics, History and Classical Civ at A level but will drop one of these for next year. It's almost certain that either History or CC will be the one that goes as he has a mild learning disability (he receives extra time at exams) that makes essay writing a real problem. He seems to do quite well at Maths and Physics so everyone keeps pointing him towards engineering but it's not sparking any real interest from him. The alternative is to go with an essay based subject that he might find more interesting but we are both worried that he'll find the essay writing too big a problem in the end. I don't know how to advise him! he stress is beginning to mount as, until he can decide on the type of course, he can't decide on which Uni's to apply to...never mind start writing his personal statement!

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RenaissanceBunny · 21/07/2017 17:52

Many uni arts courses are moving towards being solely essay/presentation based so no exams. Also the Student Support of unis is often far far better than anything offered in schools so they may have ways to help him with essay writing (they offered me dictation software even though my dyslexia is mild as well as 1-to-1 study skills sessions). I'm not sure whether the Disabled Students' Allowance has survived recent cuts but please look into it as DSA can help provide real assistance to students. As for what to do order as many prospectuses as you like and let him flick through them and see if anything catches his interest. Also it is useful to remember that in the 1st year you do a variety of subjects so even if you've applied for Maths you can still take a history course. If at the end of 1st year you want to swap your degree it is usually possible providing you have done the prerequisite courses. If and when a particular uni catches his interest phone or email Student Support and ask to speak to an advisor about what they could offer him specifically.

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aroundincircles21 · 21/07/2017 18:21

Thanks, I was wondering about support. He is mildly dyspraxic so is a bit clumsy but in terms of school work, his hand writing is poor and he has problems with planning and structuring his thoughts on paper. I'm not sure that he can be taught out of that! On the up side he is bright and has an excellent long term memory!

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IDK · 21/07/2017 22:12

He sounds quite similar to my DS, though he does Humanities. School was a struggle for him but he really enjoyed University. The support for disabilities was much better at Uni than it had been at school. He has matured and found ways round his LD.

Is there a reason that your DS didn't do Further Maths because a lot of the Maths, Physics, Engineering type courses quite like to see FM.
Economics might suit him - some courses are more Maths based than others. Or some form of computers, software, AI.

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foodiefil · 21/07/2017 22:19

Maths physics and history would be great. Good to have an A-Level essay writing subject and its analytical

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pynk · 22/07/2017 00:07

Has he been to some open days yet?

Does he have a favourite subject? Perhaps he could just study that at Uni and work out the career later. One of my DC is doing maths at Uni because they adore maths but they haven't got a clue what career they would like.

There are plenty of Unis where you don't need FM to study physics or maths. It's definitely required/preferred by some of the top Unis but perhaps less than you would think.

What about computer science?

You son still has quite a bit of time to visit some more Unis and sort his personal statement. Once he has his AS results perhaps things will be clearer.

There is also nothing wrong with him taking a year off after A'levels and applying with achieved results the following year. It would give him more time to research what he would like to do and where he would like to do it. None of my 4 did a gap year but everyone I know who's done one seemed to get a lot out of it.

What you don't want to do is stress your son out and make him feel pressurized into choosing something. He is probably going to be working until he is 70 (?) so it's worth taking a little time working out what he wants to do (at least as far as possible)

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WeyHay · 22/07/2017 09:40

Plan for a gap year. Let him organise a structured year of a mix of work and travel. Then he may have a better idea.

I really, really, really feel for students who don't really know why they chose a particular degree programme and aren't very committed. They can sometimes be difficult to teach, as they feel scared of failure, and often project that onto their tutors - pushing any perceived "blame" away from them. And really, it's nothing to do with us.

So either he follows a real interest - enough to sustain 3 hard solid years of study. Or think about not going to university at the moment.

It's really not the end of the world NOT to go to university.

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aroundincircles21 · 22/07/2017 16:35

IDK - he was in set 3 of 6 for maths at school so wasn't offered FM at GCSE and so we didn't push for it at A level, although he did get an A* for Maths.
pynk - he's been to Cardiff and Surrey so far. Preferred Cardiff I think of the two because it's in a city. We plan to visit Birmingham & Nottingham as well.
A Gap Year is definitely something he would like to do but I'd like him to go through the Uni application process whilst the school are on board to help and then maybe defer for a year to consider things. Is that realistic?
Just to add to the mix, he is also considering joining the RAF! but I wonder whether, the fact that he was on the learning support register & received extra time at exams will be on his record and exclude that possibility? Anyone know??

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user7214743615 · 22/07/2017 16:48

a lot of the Maths, Physics, Engineering type courses quite like to see FM.

Outside the top half dozen universities, nobody can insist on FM as so many students simply don't have the chance to take it.

Even at universities which are in the top 10 for Maths, a few will allow students to come in without FM. At Russell Group universities outside the top 10, half of Maths students will come in without FM and a bigger fraction still of Physics/Engineering students.

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pynk · 22/07/2017 17:59

OP id like him to go through the Uni application process whilst the school are on board to help and then maybe defer for a year to consider things. Is that realistic?

There is nothing to lose by doing this as he can always cancel or change his application at a later date if he changes his mind about what course he wants to do.

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Couchpotato3 · 22/07/2017 18:04

My DD applied post A levels and took a gap year because she wasn't sure what she wanted to do after ASs. She asked her school to write her reference/school report while she was in upper sixth and they were doing the rest of her year group, so that it was 'current' and written by teachers who knew her well (some left when she did). It was then on file and only needed minor tweaking when she did her application the year after. Worth seeing if your son's school will do this for him? It's quite normal for schools to continue supporting uni applications during a gap year. And even if it turns into a bit of a hassle, surely that's better than applying to random courses for the sake of it and ending up doing something he doesn't really love?

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pynk · 22/07/2017 18:09

User7214.
At Russell Group universities outside the top 10, half of Maths students will come in without FM and a bigger fraction still of Physics/Engineering students.

Blimey, I'm suprised it's that high.

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evenstrangerthings · 23/07/2017 05:08

Do check out UCL's Arts and Sciences Degree. It's loosely based on the US degree model where students can mix arts ands sciences.
^
www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/undergraduate/degrees/arts-sciences-basc^

From the UCL website:

You will choose a major and a minor pathway on application. Your pathways determine the subjects in which you will specialise. We offer two arts pathways and two sciences pathways.

Cultures (Humanities and Arts): Anthropology, Creative Writing, Cultural Studies, Design and Visualisation, Drawing Methodology, Film and Documentary Film-Making, History, History of Art, Languages, Literature, Philosophy

Societies (Social Sciences): Archaeology, Economics, Geography, History, International Relations, Philosophy, Political Economy, Politics, Sociology

Health and Environment (Sciences): Anthropology, Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Biomedicine, Environmental Sciences, Geography, Geology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Psychology, Science and Technology Studies, Synthetic Biology

Sciences and Engineering (Sciences): Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Economics, Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, Science and Technology Studies, Statistics
^

From the above he could major in say Comp Sci and minor on Film Making or major in Physics and minor in International Relations. It's a competitive course to get into but it looks like something that would suit your DS.

Another option might be the many Physics + Philosophy or Maths + Philosophy degrees that are available.

The WhichUni website suggested Economics as the top option when I put in your son's A-Levels
university.which.co.uk/a-level-explorer/history/mathematics/physics?o=201

Other options included a Philosophy degree and Medicine (which I'm almost sure he couldn't apply for with those A Levels)

Anyway, hope the above helps!^

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StinkyMcgrinky · 23/07/2017 05:25

I work in student support at a university, please don't let your sons difficulties in school put him off any degree or course which might involve writing. There is a lot more support in HE than FE and as he has extra time in exams already I'm assuming he has an Assessment of Needs report? This means that he will be able go work with the university to ensure the adjustments are in place as soon as possible. We already have arrangements made for students starting in September who have sent their AON ahead of time.

I can't help regarding course but just wanted to echo what others said about boy avoiding courses due to writing elements.

17/18 is such a difficult age to expect people to know what they want to do. I love my job, did I even know it existed when I was choosing my degree? No. Did my degree help me? The skills but not the subject matter. A GAP year and applying with his grades might give him some extra time to visit universities, speak with their support departments and look around the campus. Feeling comfortable is very important, especially if you're going to spend 3-5 years there. Good Luck Flowers

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StinkyMcgrinky · 23/07/2017 05:25

I work in student support at a university, please don't let your sons difficulties in school put him off any degree or course which might involve writing. There is a lot more support in HE than FE and as he has extra time in exams already I'm assuming he has an Assessment of Needs report? This means that he will be able go work with the university to ensure the adjustments are in place as soon as possible. We already have arrangements made for students starting in September who have sent their AON ahead of time.

I can't help regarding course but just wanted to echo what others said about boy avoiding courses due to writing elements.

17/18 is such a difficult age to expect people to know what they want to do. I love my job, did I even know it existed when I was choosing my degree? No. Did my degree help me? The skills but not the subject matter. A GAP year and applying with his grades might give him some extra time to visit universities, speak with their support departments and look around the campus. Feeling comfortable is very important, especially if you're going to spend 3-5 years there. Good Luck Flowers

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Canyousewcushions · 23/07/2017 06:32

I think it's worth looking into the course content of different engineering disciplines before ruling them out as something he doesnt fancy - I'm a civil engineer and did the course because I didn't know what i wanted to do. I enjoyed my summer jobs more than i expected and stuck with it as a career in the end! People with engineering degrees can work in The City, as project managers or maths/physics teachers off the back of the degree- the skillset and lateral thinking is in demand.

My course included geology, surveying, project management, financial management, computer programming, contract law, economics and optional modern language modules as well as the materials science and mathematical
/design elements. It also included practical lab work which was good fun. Other types of engineering can be much more mathematical/theoretical (aeronautical, mechanical), and others (manufacturing, sports technology) include a lot of product design type stuff. There is a huge amount of variety and with his a-levels its an obvious avenue to explore. It's also easy to find summer jobs in civil engineering and i got sponsorship off the back of that- most of my year got sponsorship money from industry as well as earning cash in the summer.

The courses do still include report writing and some essay/writing based exams but nothing like the traditional essay subjects.

Hope he works out what he wants to do- if you don't have a clear direction it's hard to know what course to pick!

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sendsummer · 23/07/2017 08:22

aroundincircles
problems with planning and structuring his thoughts on paper. I'm not sure that he can be taught out of that!
Apart from pure maths and physics all other choices including engineering and economics will require that as will future employment. There are certainly ways to improve which more expert MNetters could advise on. A search came up with this American site www.allkindsofminds.org/getting-thoughts-on-paper-generating-and-organizing-ideas/
I personally would make strategies for improving that an aim of the summer plus writing an honest list of what he really likes about his subjects. For example it could be that he likes the stories and hearing about events in history but dislikes doing source analysis as well as essays. For maths he might like the satisfaction of being able to do it but find the questions quite boring. Anything else that catches his interests academically or would want if his essay writing improved. Philosophy has been mentioned and is often linked with maths and physics but is abstract thought his thing? Does he prefer current affairs and so economics might be more attractive.
All this will provide a start for drafting his PS
in October once he has seen more courses and universities. He should know that he is not committed to anything so early on, just exploring.
If he is attracted to the RAF was he planning to do some sort of engineering qualification? Engineering does allow so many different career options and the degrees as said above have a real mix of skills.

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user7214743615 · 23/07/2017 08:46

Apart from pure maths and physics all other choices including engineering and economics will require that as will future employment.

Huh? Pure maths and physics certainly require planning and structuring thoughts on paper. Pure maths requires the explanation of theorems, logically, step by step. Physics requires explanations of how a problem is solved, step by step. Experimental physics requires very clear explanations of the experimental setup.

Astonishing that people don't actually know what maths and physics are.

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WeyHay · 23/07/2017 09:03

Thing is, in our modern "knowledge economy" all professionals need the ability to write. But at different degrees and levels. Difficulties with structure and organisation of ideas are typical for dyslexics, but don't come naturally to anyone. They are skills which can be learnt.

OP you seem to assume he must/will go to university. But why? Does he want to go - for the learning (not a 3 year party) or is it just his/your assumption that this is the next step?

It doesn't have to be.

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MrsMoastyToasty · 23/07/2017 09:05

What about doing an apprenticeship?

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museumum · 23/07/2017 09:12

History, ancient civ and physics are shouting archaeology to me. Particularly with a geo-phys or similar emphasis.
Worth considering?? Archaeology isn't all Stone Age stuff - lots is industrial or marine.

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sendsummer · 23/07/2017 09:19

user7214743615 you are ?deliberatelymisunderstanding the difference between structuring ideas principally by symbols versus sophisticated use of language.
A physicist or mathematician at university will be required to do a lot less of the latter than a historian or engineer and therefore could still get a good degree without advanced level writing skills. I know many in that situation.

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user7214743615 · 23/07/2017 10:21

But the OP doesn't talk about advanced level writing skills - she talked about difficulties in structuring thoughts and getting them on paper. The latter is absolutely essential in pure mathematics and physics - if you can't make the logic clear in your arguments, you can't do well.

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sendsummer · 23/07/2017 11:01

user I read both of OP's first two posts and understood that sentence applied to the two essay subjects since her DS is doing well in physics and maths but struggling with history and cc.

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user7214743615 · 23/07/2017 11:10

But maths and physics at A level is not like maths and physics at university: maths at A level involves (mostly) one step logic. No real "pure mathematics" involving e.g. multiple step proofs is done at A level. Many students study maths at university thinking it is going to be like A level. It really, really isn't - and OP's son will not flourish at university level maths/physics if he cannot structure his thoughts, explain his logic, communicate effectively. It is a myth that these skills are not needed for university level study in all subjects. Whatever he wants to do, he needs to improve in these skills.

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sendsummer · 23/07/2017 11:35

user you are again appearing to be obtuse. All higher level subjects require structured thought but physics and maths are the ones that require the least structuring thoughts in essay and report writing.
You may remember that in my original post I made the point that a focus on the skills for structuring ideas etc in written work will be important for the future

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