When you wave your little one off to their first day of school, the prospect of university and career choices feels light years away. But then someone presses fast forward and there you are in Year 9 having to make subject choices that could impact on your child’s opportunities later on in life. How do you know if dropping History rather than Geography will rule you out of being a future Prime Minister? By picking Business Studies over Economics means that a career in high finance may be compromised? And all of this is happening when your child is only 13 or 14 years old!
We always advise students that rather than gazing into a crystal ball it is better to take action with some career profiling; this will highlight their strengths and guide them to explore a variety of suitable options. Taking this long term perspective can be hugely helpful for making confident choices for GCSE’s or the equivalent. Objective profiling gives clear guidance and can reassure families that the subject choices made at this stage need not be life defining.
Roll forward another two years and then it is a different scenario…..the post 16 choices a student makes starts charting a much more specific course.
The first decision to be made is which curriculum to study at 6th form (Year 12 and 13) level. The International Baccalaureate offers academic rigour and a chance to study a wide range of subjects. However, this broad based programme is not for everyone; for some children the thought of battling on for two more years with subjects they do not want to study can be torture. And, if the end game is to achieve the highest possible grades for university entrance, then is risking low scores in subjects that do not come naturally worth the risk? A Levels offer a more focused approach but here you are confined to studying only 3 subjects, 4 at a maximum. Is it really possible aged 16 to know which 3 subjects are going to equip you for life? Or maybe you are thinking about the French Baccalaureate system, but even here you have to pick a particular pathway which will steer you towards certain university degrees and potential career paths.
The good news is that all of these qualifications are globally recognised at universities across the world and some of them are even credit bearing for courses in the US. But how do you make such a critical decision when it’s hard to know what you will be doing next month, let alone in 10 years’ time? Again we find some objective profiling is valuable here. Assessing a students’ interest levels for particular degrees and then ‘health checking’ their suitability to study these areas can be a good way of evaluating where their strengths lie and how best to turn those to academic advantage. It is also useful at this decision making point to work out what the expectations are for the next level of education. To be a competitive applicant to study Economics at LSE, for example, it is sensible to be studying Maths at the highest possible level; and nothing is more heart-breaking than a student coming to see me wanting to study at Medical school and realising too late that the top subject requirement is Chemistry not Biology.
We are living in an age of rapid change, Oxford University predicts that 47% of today’s jobs will disappear in the next two decades and be replaced by…. who can tell? So how can you help your child to make sounds choices in such uncertain times? Gabbitas can help, contact us today to find out more about student profiling and University preparation.