Higher Education and Career Choices
Being successful in Sixth Form is about choosing the right and appropriate courses for you. It maybe a daunting task especially as you may feel you have just finished making choices about GCSE! With a more competitive market in terms of university courses, jobs and apprenticeships, research into making the right choices is now more important than ever.
There are a number of things to consider when choosing subjects at sixth form. You need to think about the subjects you enjoy as, generally, these are the ones in which you will have the most success. You should also try and think beyond sixth form and consider whether the subjects you choose might be ones you might want to study further at university, other higher education institutions or use as the basis for a career.
Our sixth form curriculum offers a number of A Lvels and BTEC courses that will meet your needs. Use the Sixth Form Course Directory to get an overview of each subject, what it involves and where it might lead. You can start to specialise by taking a specific subject pathway such as a combination of sciences or an Arts-based course or you can pick a mixture of subjects, in effect keeping more options open.
For more detail, talk to your subject teachers and in addition, look at the syllabus specifications on the exam board websites. The exam boards are all available within the Sixth Form Course Directory.
Once you have pinpointed some subjects that you like, it is a question of putting them together in the best package for your future.
If you already know what kind of career path you would like to follow, it can be quite straightforward. Research which course best matches your interests, look at which A-levels are specified as mandatory. With medicine for example you will definitely need A level Chemistry but it can be combined with different sciences or maths; with many engineering degree courses, maths and physics may be required. Researching specific university courses is absolutely key as courses may have different entry requirements and by fulfilling these, you can make your choice more certain.
Don't worry if you don't have something definite in mind at this stage as keeping your options open can be a very good strategy. If you are going for a breadth of subjects try to avoid picking subjects whose curriculum overlaps significantly. There are sometimes less obvious links between subjects, for example economics with a language might be useful if you want commercial work in a large company.
If you are considering a leading university or a highly competitive course such as history, it is also worth looking at the sorts of A levels that are most valued. The Russell Group of universities have published a guide called Informed Choices which explains in detail which A levels they are looking for and how subject choices can be combined. It is an excellent and informative read and worth further discussion in any future careers interviews or talks with your current subject teachers.
The A levels most valued by the Russell Group are termed 'facilitating subjects' and choosing two A levels or more from this list can also ensure you keep a range of options open post 18.
For certain subjects, particular higher education institutions (HEIs) have outstanding reputations for example, locally St Mary's has a brilliant reputation for sports related degrees, Brunel for art and design and, further afield, Bournemouth is considered the best for Digital Media, in fact a number of students went on from Bournemouth to be an integral part of the recent blockbuster movie Avatar! You will be able to get advice on these HEIs and requirements for degree courses from the careers adviser, directly from the universities and at our information evenings and through the links below.
- Choose subjects that interest you and that you enjoy
- Research courses in subjects and career paths which may be of interest you
- Research specific university degree courses to see what you need to achieve to meet their entry requirements. Do they require certain subjects at A level?
- Try to pick a balanced choice of subjects if you are unsure of what you would like to do after sixth form. Try to include at least 2 facilitating subjects that may open up a number of doors for you
- Achieve the best GCSE results possible as this will allow more choice at sixth form and those results will help when you apply to university, or for employment, internships or apprenticeships
- For further help, please speak to your subject teachers, the head of sixth form or the school careers advisor.