Your path to university often begins before you take your A-levels. That’s why it’s important to ensure, once you have your GCSEs, to think long and hard about your future path. Yet it seems around one in every five students heading to sixth form college received bad advice about A-levels. Further, they wound up studying unsuitable subjects.
Missing Out on Degrees
Once you take A-levels, it’s not always easy to take a degree outside of that area. A recent survey showed that those who wished to study medical, STEM, economics, and language were given the wrong advice. They were not told which A-levels they ought to study to be eligible for those degrees at university.
Further, 40% (that’s 2 in every 5) said they would have chosen different A-levels for their intended university career path. This included both domestic and overseas students who felt there is too much of a gap in expectations.
Schools Blame Government
School leaders were quick to respond, pointing out that since the government ended the National Careers Advice Service in 2012, schools have been up against many such problems. There is simply not enough resources or funding for effective advice for young people.
Although they say the situation is better now than it was in 2012, there is still a long way to go. Now, without a national strategy and dedicated resources, it is “piecemeal” and “inadequate.” This was according to the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.
DfE said the Enterprise Adviser Network is still rolling out, connecting young people with industry leaders. However, they admitted there is “still more to do.”
Are Unconditional Offers Part of the Problem?
It seems so, according to Barton. He said students’ regrets were noteworthy considering the increase of unconditional offers. Tantalising in the students rush to accept, there is some feeling students are not slowing to consider whether that degree course is for them.
However, students are not solely swung by these tantalising offers and other perks. According to the research, 25% of students said their parents said they were the main influence on which subjects they chose. Mostly, they were influenced by their parents’ career paths. Young people who had parents who worked as medical professionals were likely to study health, for example.
Students from well off backgrounds, from wealthier postcodes and where there is a history of university study, were thinking about university earlier than their poorer peers. 39% thought about higher education while at primary school. This is vs poorer peers for whom just 27% considered university.
Better off students were also less likely to feel advice was insufficient (37% vs 43%) and more likely to choose academic subjects (52% vs 40%).
Finally, students who started thinking about career options earlier were less likely to regret those choices later.