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Then they expect you to pick a career...
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7 January 2011
9.19pm
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The Walrus
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So, I have a month to decide what A-Levels I'll be taking. These are our final exams before university in Britain, and my choices now will determine what courses I can do at university, which in turn will impact on my job possibilities (though hopefully not as much as A-Level selections will impact on university courses).

I have three of my four selections decided: Biology, Chemistry, and Philosphy and Ethics. I am already studying Critical Thinking AS (AS Levels are the first year of A-Levels) a year early, but it isn't an option next year. I need a fourth AS option (I'll probably drop it after a year- most people only study 3 full A-Levels).

My school is offering the following that I am considering: English Language, English Literature, Geography, Mathematics (Mechanics), Mathematics (Statistics), Physics. I was hoping for Politics or Economics... alas...

I feel perfectly capable of studying all those subjects to a high standard. I am most keen on English Language, though not by a landslide. I think I would probably be capable of getting an A in any of those subjects if I applied myself, and even studying them at university, though I need to speak to my teachers about this.

My current first choice of course is this one, though I am also considering PPE.

Those of you with life experience: which subjects do you think would be the most useful? Also, what do you do for a living, and are you content with your job?

Those of you without so much: what are you thinking of studying at the equivalent level?

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time
7 January 2011
10.07pm
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Joe
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I think the most useful thing for you to do is have a really good think about what you want to get out of life in the next 10 years, and work out how - or if - a degree will get you there. Then work backwards and choose your A levels. It's over 10 years since I left higher education but I do know that once you get into employment it's less about the grades you got than the aptitude you have for the job and the experience (voluntary, work experience, previous paid employment) you have.

FWIW I'm a writer and website producer, and I've been working for a large media company for the last decade. My (English literature) degree didn't get me there - the fact that I'd been doing voluntary work in journalism since I was about 14, had written loads for the university student newspaper, a succession of prior jobs in the media and a postgrad diploma in the field was enough to swing it, plus a bit of good fortune and networking. The competition for jobs is tougher than ever and people need to stand out - this is one of the worst things about the Labour Party's decision to send 50% of people to university: it means a degree qualification is pretty much meaningless in the UK, as there's such a glut of graduates looking for work. Your teachers will probably deny that though, and they'd be right to encourage you to work as hard as possible.

If you're clever enough to get A grades in any of those subjects you're clearly bright, but there are a lot of very talented and overqualified graduates around with no idea of what they want to do. Whenever I've interviewed people for jobs, the ones I've employed have been the ones that could demonstrate passion and knowledge - I've given jobs to university dropouts in the past.

Also, you seem torn between the sciences and humanities. If you want to study biological sciences at university, maybe consider dropping Philosophy and Ethics and focus on something more science-based. If you want to do PPE, would Biology and Chemistry really help?

Think about what you'd want to do if you didn't go to university, and were on the job market. What would you like to do right now? What would make your days most interesting? If you can answer that (and a lot of 20- and even 30-somethings I know still don't have a clear idea) you'll know what to do. Also, have a think about which employment sectors are reasonably recession-proof - there'll always be a need for undertakers and hairdressers, for example, but even nurses and teachers, who you might have thought were reasonably safe (everybody needs healthcare and teachers, right?), are finding that government cuts are diminishing their sectors.

Good luck.

7 January 2011
10.51pm
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The Walrus
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Thanks Joe, that's a great post. I really appreciate it.

As the thread title may have indicated, I have next to no idea what I want to do. I have two general goals: "change the world for the better" and "earn enough to comfortably support my family", which is what is causing the massive split. Half of me wants to become a Professor, and I reckon Biological Sciences gives me a better set of fall back options than Biochemistry or Chemistry. I want to combine that route with writing, both fictional and non-fictional, though I don't think English language would actually help me that much.

The other half listens more to the first goal, and wants to go into national politics. I have been involved in youth politics, which is a start (not much of one, admittedly), and I think I could probably get quite far if I put my mind to it, but I don't want to put my mind to it. I essentially hate "politics", I hate that it's essentially about making your opponents seem bad, trying to cling to office rather than make changes, and so forth. I do have a burning desire to bring about change, and I realise that pressurising others would never get anything done, but I don't think I could put up with 20 years of "politics" to start influencing national policy.

I barely even know what jobs exist, or what are in demand. I know we have a shortfall in engineers at the moment, but doubtless the next 3 years will see loads of people do engineering to fill those gaps...

And I neeeeeeeeed her all the time
8 January 2011
12.06pm
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Joe
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Skye is right - in pretty much any big industry you'll get people empire-building, seizing opportunities for themselves and trying to get one over their opponents (both within their own companies or against external rivals). You can go into any field with good intentions and find yourself frustrated by internal politics. The party-political rivalries you describe are an extreme version, but most people who want to make a change for the better find themselves at some point up against obstinate managers and people who don't share your vision. That's a frustrating part of life you have to deal with, unless you're lucky and work for a great company, or become self-employed.

If you want to write fiction or non fiction, don't worry too much about getting a qualification first. If you can write, do it. Don't expect to earn masses of cash from it though, unless you're the next JK Rowling. Best have a fallback option if you can.

You'll also find that at university you become exposed to a lot more options and opportunities - that's one of the best things about going. Use the time wisely and you'll do well. Let's face it, you're looking at around five years before you're going to be looking for a career, but try to focus on something well before graduation day arrives. I'm guessing you're around 16 right now - you have plenty of time to think, although the earlier you can hone in on something, the bigger head-start you'll have on your rivals.

15 January 2011
9.13pm
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Zig
The Toppermost of the Poppermost
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The Walrus said:

I essentially hate "politics", I hate that it's essentially about making your opponents seem bad, trying to cling to office rather than make changes, and so forth. I do have a burning desire to bring about change, and I realise that pressurising others would never get anything done, but I don't think I could put up with 20 years of "politics" to start influencing national policy.
 

 
 


 

On this point, I agree wholeheartedly. It's no different here in the U.S.
 

As for your dilemma on what path to embark upon, I don't envy you. I would not want to go through that again. But no matter what you decide, life will surprise and perhaps delight you. A case in point...
 

When I was in high school, I took many business courses including three years of accounting classes and was very good at it. When I entered my first year of college, I continued down the accounting path and was very disappointed when I found the classes were teaching things that I had learned 2 years prior in high school! I quickly became bored, stopped going to classes and ended up dropping out for the semester. I was faced with my own difficult decision - do I go back and take a different path or perhaps put up with the boredom and just get through it? Do I bag college altogether? I decided to go to work and then explore college again in a year or two.
 

To make a long story longer, I ended up getting married at age 20 (still am to the same bride!) moving across the country (literally) twice and experiencing more fun than any human being should be allowed to have. Through all that, I am enjoying a wonderful career with a "Fortune 100" company working alongside and, in some cases, over people who have 4 years or more of college.
 

My whole point of boring you with a synopsis of my life is this. Don't let a difficult choice weigh on you so much. As those wise folks said in prior posts above, life changes quickly. What you decide today will change tomorrow - I promise you it will.
 

I don't recommend dropping out like I did - I feel blessed that my life turned out so well without a college education. But no matter what, let life come to you. While I'm not a very religious person, I do believe everything happens for a reason. If you truly enjoy what you are doing, you will be rewarded. Just go with what your heart tells you.
 

One more thought before I close. In your second post above you said, "I have two general goals: "change the world for the better" and "earn enough to comfortably support my family", which is what is causing the massive split." Those two things don't have to be separate. You can earn enough money to make your family comfortable AND change the world for the better through charitable acts. Despite a common misconception, not all rich people suck! I hope that one made you smile.
 

mal-evans
 

16 January 2011
12.44am
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mithveaen
Sitarday's room
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Here comes the sun….. Scoobie-doobie…… Something in the way she moves…..attracts me like a cauliflower… Bop. Bop, cat bop. Go, Johnny, Go. Beware of Darkness…  I believe in SH...
16 January 2011
1.44am
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GniknuS
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Money is a difficult thing to judge in terms of its importance. We've all been sort of given these dreams by Hollywood where we see these people with their fantastic lives and all of their money and so we think 'hey, that looks nice'. So it seems like we use our energy trying to attain what those people have because we've been given an idea of happiness. But, as mith said, you are responsible for your own happiness, and if money makes you happy, so be it but I just think that if our society was less concerned about money and more concerned about helping our fellow man, we'd be slightly better off. This doesn't have to be it, nature or God or whoever you believe in didn't create society, man created society and just because man created it, that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to exist the way it is.

I think we can change and the fact is that we need to change because how the world is right now isn't good enough, it just isn't. There shouldn't be any oppression, starvation, homelessness, war, hate or fear. Imagine if fear was erased from our society, if we focused on our tremendous similarities versus our relatively small differences. So just change your own life because this world has a way of rewarding those who are actually trying to better it.

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
7 May 2011
2.39pm
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mr. Sun king coming together
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I certainly am shocked by this thread. However, I am planning (At this very early stage), to be come a lawyer, hopefully a defense one. That, Walrus, is one proffession that will help people and also make lots of money. But, I have to refer back to the first post. We Canadiane just had an election (Monday, the Second. I bet no one even knew.) and the Governing Party, the Conservatives, ran attack ads against the Leader Of The Opposition from the moment he became Liberal leader. He didn't even win his seat, his party collapsed to record lows in seats, and they were overtaken by the NDP as Official Oppisiton. Now my point is (I actually have one for once), is that the politics of fear and power, and not genuine care, will never end as long as it works. But I still believe it can work. Every generation gets the quinntessial leader in every country. The 70's had potential the most famous world leaders, for better or worse. These people break the mold and cause shifts. Canadians night have seen it on Monday, Amaricans saw it in 2008, and the Brits saw it in 2010. But, who will lead the great shift for the next generation? Us. Like it or not, politics is a business, and playing the game to get REAL change doesn't mean you are evil. Obama, Cameron and Harper all had to play the game to make change. As did Churchill, De Gaulle, and Roosevelt. Famous men played the game, and played it well, and got the change they wanted. You can disagree on the policies, but the US, UK and Canada all are under historic regimes. (Sorry if my point isn't truly clear. Politics, if used correctly, isn't all bad.)(Sorry the long ass post!)

As if it matters how a man falls down.'

'When the fall's all that's left, it matters a great deal.

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