It’s getting to that time of year again where year 11s all over the country start to stress about A-level choices and what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives.
Well, don’t worry, we’re here to calm your fears and help you make those tough decisions. We'll be running a piece on alternatives to A-levels later in the week, but for those of you staying on for sixth form, we’ll say it again: don’t worry. Yes, these decisions will probably influence the immediate direction your life takes, but there’s nothing to say that you can’t change your mind and take a different route, even after you’ve completed the next two years.
Maybe you’re in a situation where you know exactly what you want to do with your life but you don’t really know how to get there. Well, there are a few steps you can take to help you find out.
If the career you want to go into requires a certain type of degree, then have a look on UCAS at what the entry requirements are for that degree. To take a really obvious example, if you want to be a doctor, you’ll need A-levels in Biology and Chemistry to get onto a medicine degree.
If the career you want to go into doesn’t require a degree, then see if you can speak to someone who is already working in that field and ask them if they have any advice as to what A-levels you should consider. It might be that there are certain things you’d learn from particular courses that would really help you break into the career you wanted. For example, if you want to become a Police Officer you might want to consider taking Law as an A-level subject.
You might not be sure about what you want to do in your career yet - which is totally normal, we promise. A lot of people don’t know what they want to do with their lives at 16. So don’t stress it. Pick subjects that interest you and where you think you’ll do well. Don't take any courses because you feel you "have" to - if your subjects bore or annoy you, you'll be in for a long two years.
Give your decisions some proper thought though: don’t rush or make rash decisions. Consider what you might like to do in the future, even if you’re not 100% set on it, and make your decisions based on that. For example, if you think you might like to go into PR, then English is generally a good choice.
The important thing to remember is not to stress about it. A lot of schools and colleges will be happy enough for you to change courses within the first few weeks of term if you feel you’ve made the wrong decision. And A-levels aren’t the end of the world: although they guide your university options, they don’t set anything in stone. There will always be opportunities to take steps into other careers if you change your mind at a later date. And if you're still really unsure about which A-levels to take, the Which? University Guide has a lot of helpful articles about A-level choices for various careers.