Choosing A levels is exciting for all involved, although at first it can seem daunting. A levels influence your child’s future: the universities they can apply to, the courses they can study and, to some extent, their career. It’s therefore important to consider not only what your child will enjoy studying for the next two years, but also what they might like to do later in life. Having said that, not every teenager is ready to choose a career path before starting their A levels, and that’s okay – as long as your child gets good marks, they’ll be able to change their plans along the way.
Charlotte Williams, a tutor at MyTutor, says: “I am currently in my final year studying Geography at the University of Exeter and I absolutely love it. I didn’t always know what I wanted to do though. I even picked my A Levels (Maths, Product Design, Geography and Physics) for a career in Architecture! However, after studying Geography in more detail at A Level, I wanted to learn more about the subject. I found A Levels very difficult at first as they are such a step up from GCSEs – it was quite a shock. As time went on, things got easier as you really learn how you work best and how to manage your time. Some good advice would be: do your own thing as not everyone works in the same way.”
As a parent, you’ll want to strike a balance between helping your child make the right decision, and letting them be independent. Some children ask their parents for lots of guidance, while others resist parental input. Generally, it’s best to encourage your child to think through their choices in the right way – to ask themselves what they have enjoyed studying at GCSE level, what they might like to study at university, and what they might like to do in the future. Helping your child think about the implications of their decision is key – teenagers often don’t think ahead without being prompted to do so. It’s also important, however, to make sure your child doesn’t worry too much about their decision – nowadays, career paths are very fluid, so as long as your child does well, they won’t rule themselves out of many jobs.
It’s worth taking the time to research the requirements for the university courses you child might like to study, and for the jobs they might like to do later on. Don’t worry, however, if your child doesn’t know what they might want to do yet – encourage them to choose a mixture of arts and sciences. Maths, English literature, science, history, geography, and modern foreign languages are often called ‘facilitating’ subjects, because they make it possible for students to apply for a range of degrees, so try to persuade your child to pick at least one of these.
Download our guide to find out more about how to talk to your child about choosing A levels, where to find out the requirements for specific university courses and jobs, and to hear what some university students we have spoken to have to say about the process.