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The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Family Life -

N YEAR nine, your child chooses their GCSE sub­jects. Two years later, they pick A-lev­els or equiv­a­lent qual­i­fi­ca­tions. At each step, there seems to be more at stake. For­tu­nately, there are ways to take the stress out of th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences.

Per­haps the best way of help­ing your child plan their aca­demic ca­reer is to work back­wards from their end goal.

The aim is prob­a­bly to go to univer­sity and study some­thing that will help them forge a ca­reer. With that in mind, it is use­ful, even in year nine, to browse the univer­sity web­sites, to see what cour­ses are on of­fer and what GCSEs and A-lev­els they re­quire.

You will find that the en­try re­quire­ments for many cour­ses state a min­i­mum grade re­quired for maths and English GCSE. Some­times they also state a re­quired grade for the sciences at GCSE and ask for “a good range of sub­jects with min­i­mum grades of A*- C”.

Some schools dic­tate that stu­dents take a hu­man­ity (his­tory, ge­og­ra­phy or re­li­gious stud­ies), a lan­guage and one tech­ni­cal or creative sub­ject (such as com­puter science or art). Since maths, English and science are com­pul­sory at GCSE, there may, in fact, be very lit­tle “choice”.

How­ever, many schools do give stu­dents a free rein and do not in­sist, for ex­am­ple, that they take a lan­guage. In spite of the ex­tra lee­way this ap­pears to of­fer, some uni­ver­si­ties, such as UCL, ad­mit only those stu­dents who have stud­ied a lan­guage at GCSE.

In prac­tice, to sat­isfy the “good range of sub­jects” re­quire­ment, it would nor­mally be pru­dent to

SUM­MER 2013 pur­sue at least one hu­man­ity and one lan­guage. Two hu­man­i­ties may prove time con­sum­ing as they are knowl­edge-rich sub­jects.

But be­ware that this rule of thumb does not suit ev­ery­one — to take on a lan­guage if you have no ap­ti­tude could be a bad strat­egy. Ul­ti­mately, uni­ver­si­ties want to see that you have passed your GCSEs with good grades. Achiev­ing a bal­ance of sub­jects that demon­strates both strength and breadth is im­por­tant. You may de­cide to seek pro­fes­sional guid­ance in or­der to make an in­formed de­ci­sion.

Choos­ing A-lev­els may be eas­ier. By the time stu­dents have com­pleted GCSEs, they will have a bet­ter idea of which sub­jects they may want to take fur­ther. What may be more dif­fi­cult is de­cid­ing whether to take up a sub­ject that they have not stud­ied at GCSE, such as psy­chol­ogy or economics. En­cour­age your child to bor­row a text book and read a few chap­ters to see if the sub­ject in­ter­ests them.

Hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about pos­si­ble fu­ture ca­reers is piv­otal, as some ca­reers re­quire spe­cific de­grees and, in turn, some de­grees re­quire spe­cific A-lev­els. Choos­ing the wrong A-lev­els could rule out some ca­reer paths at this point. Most im­por­tantly, your child should choose sub­jects in which they can ex­cel. Founder of MyUniAp­pli­ca­tion.com, Natalie Lancer can dis­cuss your ca­reer op­tions in one-to-one ses­sions and give you ex­pert guid­ance on GCSE and A-level choice, univer­sity ap­pli­ca­tions (UK and Amer­ica) and the per­sonal state­ment. For more de­tails, call Natalie on 07747 612 513, email info@myuniap­pli­ca­tion.com or see www.myuniap­pli­ca­tion.com

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