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Architecture - Poorish gcse grades (4s and 5s) but predicted distinctions in level 3 extended diploma
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Caucasianchalkcircles · 08/05/2019 23:51

Dps son performed poorly in his gcses last year. He has since admitted that he didn't really put the necessary work in but was also let down by numerous staff changes and poor organisation at school. He subsequently failed 2 of his gcses and gained 4s and 5s in the other subjects. As he hadn't achieved the necessary grades to pursue the A' levels of his choice, the only option was to accept a place on a level 3 Btech extended diploma in architecture which he hopes to study at uni.
He's vastly matured over the last year and has seriously knuckled down to some hard work. He's really enjoying the course and has been predicted to gain x 3 distinctions which will enable him to apply to uni. What's concerning him are his lacklustre gcse grades. He fulfills the basic criteria for gcse requirements but obviously there will be many applicants whose grades far exceed his. I therefore just wondered if a combination of top grade btech results and loads of work experience will compensate for the gcse grades ?
He's also a bit obsessed with the university league tables for architecture and refusing to consider unis below a certain ranking whereas I think he should be a bit more realistic and openminded. Is a department ranked 35 th for architecture so much worse than one ranked 25th ? Any advice would be really appreciated Tia.

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DobbysLeftSock · 08/05/2019 23:55

He needs to put down at least one uni that has lower requirements as his safety net.

I would say his best bet would be to try to speak to the admissions office at the unis he's interested in and ask for their advice. A few phone calls could take an awful lot of the guesswork out of it.

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Pipandmum · 08/05/2019 23:57

No idea about the gsce question but there’s so much more to choosing a uni than its rank in a particular subject! I would look at student satisfaction as one top priority. I think there’s a list which you can look online which ranks everything from job prospects and earnings of graduates to teacher quality, student satisfaction etc etc. Plus of course he needs to visit as many as possible and see what he thinks of the vibe.

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Comefromaway · 08/05/2019 23:59

I think we will be in the same scenario but with music.

Ds has asd and struggles massively with writing. But in music he’s doing harmony, composition and analysis way above what’s expected for his age. He is totally obsessed and wants to study composition and music technology.

He will do a music Btec along with ABRSM theory but many universities that offer what he wants (a composition tech based course with a high level of music theory rather than just popular music and use of software) have high grade requirements.

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Comefromaway · 09/05/2019 00:00

The problem is that very few of the universities specify what their gcse requirements are other than the basic English and maths pass.

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VanCleefArpels · 09/05/2019 08:55

Except for Oxbridge GCSE’s are rarely taken into account by universities especially if they are “recruiting” uni’s ie need bums on seats. I don’t know what the situation is for architecture in that regard, but I would have thought his Btech and portfolio (if required) would be far more important

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titchy · 09/05/2019 09:21

He needs to look at the individual courses. To be blunt though, the top ones want A levels in Maths and Physics, not a BTEC.

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DobbysLeftSock · 09/05/2019 10:02

I taught a girl who was applying for architecture a few years back. She had gcses from a* to b. She missed the a level grades by one in two subjects and didn't get a place at any of her chosen unis. It is a competitive course so he needs to accept that the top unis may be out of reach with bad gcse grades and a btec. Seriously, get him on the phone and actually talking to the unis.

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BubblesBuddy · 09/05/2019 10:09

Yes. The better courses will want A levels so look closely at the courses. He may need to aim below Architecture course. The better courses will look at GCSEs because this is an indication of performance at A level. The lower level courses may not care but some certainly will be concerned that he doesn’t have Maths A level. His choices will be limited without that I would have thought. So lower ranking is inevitable unless it’s really a bums on seats course. I don’t know any architects that do not have A levels.

All the architects I know, will also say look at employment stats. This is what really matters. Many student architects don’t get jobs to complete their training so employability is key. Also look at foundation courses. He might need one.

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BubblesBuddy · 09/05/2019 10:16

I have just seen DMU Leicester takes BTec only and tells you what GCSEs they want. The portfolio needs to be good, obviously. They also have impressive stats for employment so all may not be lost!

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ifonly4 · 09/05/2019 11:44

What's considered to be the top courses may want A level grades, but if there are courses that don't, it doesn't mean your son shouldn't go for them, it's about what's right for him now and will hopefully take him to where he wants to be.

I can't answer your question, but unis will also be looking for a good reference, strong Personal Statement in which he should get across his focus on architecture and job aims for the future. If he can gain any work experience or anything that he's read/seen of interest for architecture, that will go in his favour.

When applying, it might be worth chosing a couple of unis that require lower academic grades, if nothing else, one of these can be used as an insurance if he gets an offer from a uni with a better course, reputation.

I guess he'll try and view a few unis before applying. It might be worth him having an honest discussion with them at that time.

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Optisight · 09/05/2019 19:15

As mum of Architecture student I will try to give you my advice
The Top Uni will want A levels at A* A levels they have plenty of students applying with these grades....Cambridge, Bath Sheffield UCL etc so he can count those out. (by the way Maths and Physics are NOT required for Architecture, except at Bath where it is a BSc rather than a BA course and has a more mathematical basis)

Btech is perfectly acceptable for Architecture especially if he is on course for distinction

The main thing they are looking for is the Portfolio, a talent for design and creative thinking etc
He perhaps needs to yes lower his university "rankings" as I've noticed these change drastically annually...apart from the top few

He needs to visit departments and get a feel for the type of Architecture they "do" and the feel of the department.
Just because it's an "old Poly" and not Redbrick Uni does not mean the Architecture department is no good...these departments are some of the best....Northumbria for example has a brand spanking new Department

The"top" uni are VERY art based and you would have been far better doing Art than Maths or Physics....very little Maths or Physics on an Architecture degree my son has neither at A level
He does a lot of drawing, making models out of cardboard and writing and developing schemes

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Caucasianchalkcircles · 09/05/2019 21:04

Thanks for all your helpful contributions. I'll pass them on. The boy in question is actually my partner's son. He'll be the first in his family to apply
for uni so none of them are that au fait with the whole system. Careers advice at college seems non existent and my experience of applying for uni dates back to the 80s so very outdated !

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MarchingFrogs · 10/05/2019 01:21

The current institutions under whose 'umbrella' the Schools of Architecture find themselves are not all those which are thought of as prestigious generally; e.g. the School of Architecture in Birmingham is part of Birmingham City University, not the (Russell Group) University of Birmingham and the Manchester school is a joint enterprise between (RG) University of Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan University. Sheffield is up there in the top handful of universities for Architecture, but it's unlikely those who are into 'prestige' would think of it as being in the same position generally. And so on.

Institutions whose courses grant exemption from the various professional exams are listed here:
www.architecture.com/education-cpd-and-careers/riba-validation/riba-validated-schools-uk

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sendsummer · 10/05/2019 06:22

Comefromaway your DS should consider the conservatoire route instead such as www.gsmd.ac.uk/music/principal_study/electronic_music.html
For conservatoires entry is by audition for music potential and grade requirements are low. He will need to build up a portfolio to showcase though.

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SarahMused · 10/05/2019 08:57

Architecture admission requirements vary greatly so studying individual university requirements is a must. Sheffield and UCL both accept BTECs, at D*DD and DDD respectively so it is likely that most of the lower ranked ones do as well. It would certainly be worth applying to one of these as you get five choices. Don‘t assume a course will be sciencey just because it is a BSc. UCL is a BSc and famously creative and arty. Go visit, email admissions tutors and tell him to be prepared to take a gap year and apply with achieved grades if he doesn‘t get a decent offer. Several good architecture schools were in clearing and adjustment last year so if he can hold his nerve he might pick up a place this way too.

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Comefromaway · 10/05/2019 10:11

Yes, he does like the look of Guildhall. He also likes Salford which is lower academic requirements. Surrey and Bristol are others he really likes but that is higher academically

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BubblesBuddy · 10/05/2019 11:00

Knowing lots of Architects, one thing they look for is employability. Some courses do not set you up well for standard employment. Too arty is a case in point. Many straight forward architecture practices really don’t do this area of work. It’s more the nuts and bolts end of designing workable buildings for clients.

I would also look at the RIBA web site. Lots of information there for potential students and look at taster days too. The degree must be suitable for progression to Part 2 of the training so ensure they are compatible. Again, RIBA is a good place to start.

I would be a bit wary of new courses. Employers may not know them and you must get employment post degree to qualify. A track record can be useful in this regard. If universities just churn out grads with no employment prospects it is a big problem for those grads.

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DOLLYDAYDREAMER · 10/05/2019 21:03

Friends dd did architecture at Oxford Brookes with btec's - now works at top London practice - could also consider doing a good art & design foundation course first

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justasking111 · 13/05/2019 22:07

DS doing architecture went to open days, they were more interested in his portfolio than anything else. He had to e-mail so much work to them before being invited for interview.

If he does not get into architecture this year then I would try a CAD course, Computer aided design is sought after in practice.

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