An image of a student considering their option choices

 by Emily Day
, posted On 21 Sep '20
 Recruitment Coordinator at the University of Wolverhampton

How to support students to make post-16 option choices with university in mind.

In the words of Forest Gump life is like a box of chocolates. I think this analogy works for choosing courses too. For some students they will dive straight in and know exactly what they want - while others are going to need to scrutinise the menu to work out the best option for themselves.

Work backwards to reach forwards

For students who have an end goal in mind, specifically a career focused one, my advice is to work backwards. Career focused courses often have specific subject requirements and without taking these options, students may need a foundation year before they can progress. These courses will often have work experience requirements too and it is worth considering how they can gain work experience outside of the compulsory requirements of a course.

So many times, during the craziness of results day 2020 did I need to offer an alternative course to students who wanted to study Physiotherapy as they hadn’t studied A level Biology. All universities and courses will ask for different requirements so not only do students really need to consider what degree they want to do - but their research needs to start even earlier to ensure they are studying the right courses too.

An image of a student considering different career routes

How about if students are unsure about university choices?

For those who are unsure about which degree course to take (and let’s be honest at 15, how many of us really knew what we wanted to do?) they really do have the whole box to choose from!

For these students research into different options is just as key, but can be even more confusing! Spending some time looking into different subjects via prospectuses, events and websites (this is where comes in) as well as getting a taste for what studying different subjects could be like is a great starting point!

For students who are unsure, choosing combination a different courses leaves their options open, however if you know you are not a fan of a nutty chocolate you wouldn’t pick one, the same goes for courses. That level of enjoyment about the course still needs to play a factor.

Personally, I like a mix with my chocolate choices such as strawberry soft centre, fudge, caramel and a good chuck of chocolate too and the same went for my choices of Business Studies, Maths, Biology and Psychology. Playing to my strengths with a slightly more STEM focus but also allowing me to gain research and essay writing skills.

Universities are not looking for their students to be experts in their chosen course at the start, that’s what they are there to teach! What we want to see is the skills they have learnt from studying as well as an enjoyment for learning.

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Editorial has been provided by over 35 colleagues at universities and higher education institutions throughout the UK. On topics covering how to support students with their university decisions, university events, widening participation & fair access, UCAS applications (including writing school references) and more. It also includes the key student finance facts from Martin Lewis.

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