It’s bonkers really: getting 16 year olds to decide what A Levels they want to do and therefore, in turn, what they’d like to do for a career. Yes, there are always a few who have known their whole lives that they’ve wanted to become a social worker, police officer or doctor, but the majority aren’t going to have a clue at the age of 16.
Making the right decision
Once you’ve been given your predicted GCSE grades, make a list of the subjects you genuinely enjoy. Usually this corresponds with the subjects you get the best grades in. Then if university is your goal take a look at the prospectus, at the courses they offer and the requirements for the courses that appeal to you. If you have a career in mind, try and speak to someone who is actually doing the job you want. Arrange a coffee or even a day shadowing them; this way you’ll get a taste of the role and get to know what’s required to get to where they are in their career. From this sound research you’ll be in the best possible position for choosing A Levels.
Generally speaking, though, most people go for the subjects they have the best grades in. This is a pretty sound move given that getting into the best unis is all about the points. But where this comes unstuck is when at GCSE level you get similar grades across all subjects – and this is where making the right decision is so important.
Does my choice of A Level subject really matter?
Of course it does. Whether you choose English and arts subjects or Maths and sciences at A Level will depict what you end up doing at degree level – a BA or a BSC. This in turn can hugely affect any post graduate study and some career paths.
Also, A Levels are likely to be the most challenging thing you have done academically to date, so not enjoying a subject will undoubtedly affect your grades which might limit your choice of degree (and therefore your career). We’re all studying to do the best we can, so making the right subject choices that play into your strengths will mean you’ll do better.
What options do I have?
Believe it or not, there is some flexibility in terms of when you start, take exams and how long you study, so fear not. If you’ve found out that your chosen university prefers a specific A Level (that you aren’t studying) you have two options. The first is to take on another course as a fast track alongside your others. This is a tall order as A Levels are tough at the best of times but it’s possible to do a full A level in a year (sometimes less) if needs be and you really knuckle down. Alternatively, you drop a subject and take up the one you need as a fast track or in the normal amount of time.
How do I go about changing A Levels?
Speak to your tutors as soon as you’re having doubts. The sooner you want to change the less obstructive it is, obviously. A distance learning A Level allows you the flexibility to work under your own steam at your own pace so if it is all getting too much, you can take things slower or, alternatively, take a subject as a fast track.
(Image courtesy of Wordle.net.)