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Year 13 dd struggling with work and unsure about university
33

twosoups1972 · 09/11/2018 13:29

I am worried about my dd. She's finding Year 13 very tough after a very good Year 12. About a year ago, she said she wasn't sure about going to university and might look at apprenticeships instead. However she's not sure what she wants to do career-wise and a few months later she decided that university application was very much on the cards again.

Her A Levels are English Lit, Sociology and Spanish and she wants do to a Joint Honours degree in English + either Philosophy or Linguistics (or some combination of the three).

Since starting Year 13 she's been under an enormous amount of pressure. She says the work isn't happening for her, she sits down to do a piece of work and can't do it (or thinks she can't do it). She's finding writing the Personal Statement difficult, apparently her first draft wasn't very good and she has to re-write it (very common I'm sure).

She's away at boarding school so there is only so much support I can give her. We had a tearful call home last night, she's very down, can't write the Personal Statement, can't do her work, unsure if she wants to go to Uni. She is well supported at school both with academic staff and boarding staff. However she does tend to bottle things up, she's very much a closed book.

I have advised her, and I don't know if this is the right advice or not, to proceed with uni application for now. If she decides next year not to go, she can defer or pull out all together. I think once she's got the application in, it will take some weight off her mind.

I'm not the sort of parent who would encourage university whether it's right or not, I actually think alternatives to university can be extremely beneficial. We did discuss briefly if she didn't go, what would she do? Take a year off? But do what?

I hate seeing her so upset and just want what's best for her. Any advice please?

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Needmoresleep · 09/11/2018 17:50

Could she plan a gap year. This would take the pressure off, give her a break from academic stuff and just allow a bit of time to find herself.

DD decided to defer quite late on, but has not regretted it for a minute. Hers was reasonably structured. Some kitchen porter work at a cookery school, a ski season, and Camp America. She picked up lots of different skills and had a great time.

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twosoups1972 · 09/11/2018 18:29

A gap year may be just what dd needs, but I'm wondering if she should still apply this year and then decide later on what to do.

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choirmumoftwo · 09/11/2018 22:17

It will take some pressure off to apply next year with A level grades in hand.

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sendsummer · 09/11/2018 23:54

twosoups I am all for gap years but would agree with your suggestion to her although it depends how good her predicted grades are.
Is there any chance you could visit her for some time together or are you overseas?
It seems likely that there are two separate issues here. The first is uncertainty regarding her future. The second is being stressed by schoolwork and from what you say perhaps some writer’s block, not just for her PS but also for her other subjects.

I would argue that the PS may seem a mountain now but in a few weeks it will be out of the way even if not as good as she’d like.
IME year 13s can change their mind several times in a year about future plans so keeping all options open by applying this round is sensible.
If her predicted grades are good and she proceeds with the application at least one offer may be for lower grades which would ease the academic stress. She could apply directly for a deferred place or just reapply if she wants to nearer the time.

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Serin · 10/11/2018 08:32

It sounds like she needs a year off to me. Nothing like a year at home working in Boots to make you want to apply to uni Smile if she been at boarding school she might also just want to reconnect with you for a bit?

If she takes a look at the student room website there are lots of personal statements that people have shared on there. Shoot me now but I don’t know one 18year old who entirely wrote their own personal statement, I think there is a lot of parental involvement, could you help her to get started?

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TheDropBear · 10/11/2018 08:44

The thing is if she applies she might just end up going because she has no other clear plan and everyone else is doing it. That's what happened to me and while I did enjoy uni I wish I had taken a year out and worked out what I really wanted. I'm in my mid 20s and know lots of people who feel the same. I don't know if it's still the same but when I was that age schools tended to present uni as the best/only option but 18 is so young to make a decision about what you want to do. While you can obviously change your mind later down the line it becomes harder you want to go back and study something else to find funding for it.

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Needmoresleep · 10/11/2018 08:51

I would wait to apply. A number of DCs peers who took gap years refined their ideas on what they wanted to study and where. Most courses dont interview but the ski company DD worked for let you return for interviews - albeit it at your own expense.

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MIdgebabe · 10/11/2018 08:54

I guess you realise this, but what she is going through is very , very normal. Dd went through a very rough time, and came out with a very clear plan.

It is good that she is thinking about the options, that she is trying really hard to do well , just the panicking that is bad!

Will she be home soon so that she can focus on acedmic work now and you can look at the future things together ?

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LoniceraJaponica · 10/11/2018 08:58

DD is currently on a gap year. She has a job and is doing voluntary work. She now knows what she wants to do and where she wants to go. She has the right grades, and every university she has looked has told her that they will make her an offer.

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sendsummer · 10/11/2018 10:44

It will take some pressure off to apply next year with A level grades in hand.
It can not be as straightforward as that, especially if this year is harder for her academically as she seems to think it is.
Should her predicted grades be good (based on her successful year 12) she may get a lower offer with a comfortable margin for underperformance. If she applies next autumn with relatively poor grades (which is her worry now) she could lose out on some of the same courses which will just filter offers by grades (predicted or real).
Of course it is also possible that removing all anxiety of an application results in an upturn in academic performance with the resulting excellent grades. In that case applying next year is very sensible.

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YeOldeTrout · 10/11/2018 10:58

Entry in 2020 may be less competitive for getting Uni places, due to sharp birth rate dip back in 2001-2002. A year off to earn money & find out what they want to do I can highly endorse because it's what I had to do.

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twosoups1972 · 10/11/2018 12:18

Thank you, this is all really helpful.

Her predicted grades are ABB, the universities she is looking at have typical entry requirements of AAB - ABB. I know she needs to look at institutions with lower entry grades too but she says why apply if she doesn't want to go there?

Reading some of the other threads, it could always be possible that she will be offered lower grades or even unconditional.

If she did take a year off, what sort of job could she do? She's a qualified lifeguard but I don't think she would want to do that full-time.

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twosoups1972 · 10/11/2018 12:20

Should her predicted grades be good (based on her successful year 12) she may get a lower offer with a comfortable margin for underperformance

This is what I am thinking. If she can get the PS written and application done, I think that will take the pressure off her a bit. Then she can decide next year whether she wants to take up a place.

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Mrskeats · 10/11/2018 12:24

If she is struggling academically then joint honours may also be too much,

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MarchingFrogs · 10/11/2018 13:59

Shoot me now but I don’t know one 18year old who entirely wrote their own personal statement

I can name you two (odd bits of editing recommended by academic staff notwithstanding)Smile

Her predicted grades are ABB, the universities she is looking at have typical entry requirements of AAB - ABB. I know she needs to look at institutions with lower entry grades too but she says why apply if she doesn't want to go there?

Has she looked at the content of all the relevant courses at all the universities that offer them and ranked them and all the courses / universities with typical requirements less than her predicted grades genuinely do not interest her on that basis? Or is it because they typically have lower requirements per se that puts them on rhe reject pile?

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drivinmecrazy · 10/11/2018 16:24

twosoups1972 has she gone to any uni days? What are her favoured unis?
DD1 is hoping to study JH English and Spanish and found her choices quite limited when she actually checked the different course contents.
She's (almost, not quite!) Finished her PS and is looking at Exeter and Royal Holloway, completely contrasting options!!

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drivinmecrazy · 10/11/2018 16:32

Sorry, pressed too soon Blush
DD has found that yr13 has been quite full on particularly with her spanish. Lots of preparation for presentations and essays. Pretty much the same for English.
As far as workloads go, biology has been a breeze for her. Not nearly as much prep, just needing to know her stuff.
Sadly no further advice but you have my sympathies, nothing harder than watching your child struggle and not knowing how to fix it for them Flowers

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Zerosugar · 10/11/2018 16:33

University entrance has become a ridiculous smoke and mirrors game.

Many high tariff courses let students in with dropped results this year; sometimes by as much as two dropped grades.

This applied to both prestigious institutions - Edinburgh, Oxford, I'm looking at you. Also to competitive subjects, including law.

Whilst this is great for some - easing the pressure for students with brilliant predictions - it massively penalises those who are under predicted.

It effectively means that predictions have become a better currency than actual grades.

A scandalous iniquity is flourishing unchallenged, given that fewer than a quarter of teachers' predictions are accurate when looked at retrospectively.

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drivinmecrazy · 10/11/2018 16:40

Couldn't agree more! DD has been predicted A* A B but her teacher offered to up the B to an A If she needed her too.
But of a joke when other sixth forms locally are positively and unrealistically upping their predicted grades as the norm A (think student who consistently getting Ds & Es in assembles being predicted B's across the board).
I wasn't as fan of AS levels but at least it gave universities a clue as to the strength of a candidate.
I wonder how it will pan out this year?

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LoniceraJaponica · 10/11/2018 19:37

DD's school were pretty strict and honest about predicted grades.

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YeOldeTrout · 10/11/2018 20:23

Is there a mechanism that keeps them honest about predicted grades? What stops schools from always predicting very high grades, do their predictions get checked against reality in a league table kind of way?

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twosoups1972 · 10/11/2018 23:24

She's been to quite a few open days, her favourites are Birmingham, Nottingham, Newcastle and Exeter. All have quite similar entry requirements but of course it's only a guide.

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twosoups1972 · 11/11/2018 20:14

I went up to visit dd at her school today and we had a long talk. She definitely wants to apply this year as she agrees it will keep her options open and also she'll have the support of her school which she wouldn't have if she applied next year.

Dh and I were talking to some friends last night who have older children and have been through this. They gave me the number of a woman who helps write personal statements. But when I told dd about this, she was very much against it, she would feel uncomfortable about paying someone to help write it.

So this week her goal is to write her second draft. And she's also thinking about applying to Nottingham Trent as her 'safe' option. So things are looking a bit brighter. She has English coursework to do before Christmas which she is stressing about but I've encouraged her to take things one step at a time and get the PS done first.

She says nothing is fun any more but I suppose that's quite common in Year 13.

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errorofjudgement · 11/11/2018 20:40

Op I completely sympathise.
My DD is also in Y13, and is stressing about English and History coursework. Plus she’s at a vocational school and has performances all this week.
Her PS is still in the draft stage, and school have reviewed it. But it still needs some work.
I’ve not heard of professionals writing a PS. I think your DD is wise to steer clear of anyone offering this.
It sounds like you had a really good talk and hopefully have a plan going forwards. But you’re not alone!

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ShalomJackie · 12/11/2018 20:32

Do not use a professional PS writing service. They will be cut and paste jobs. PS is fed through a plagiarism tool and these will be found out.

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