Researching your Course – Jessica’s example

Researching your course

At this time of the year as the new term draws near, thoughts turn to course choices. It is a wise 18 year old who knows exactly what they want to study and why. Here at Pain Free Personal Statements, we often speak to prospective candidates and their parents about the best direction of travel post A-Level. 

Last week we were contacted by Sam whose daughter Jessica was thinking about applying to law, international business or teaching.

Jessica had a strong set of GCSEs (6 A*s, 2 As, 1B) completed in 2019 before the pandemic. Like all her peers, her schooling was massively disrupted in 6 th Form. Our initial advice in September 2020 was to keep her options open. Still undecided, she completed her UCAS application and was offered places in law and in education. 

Our team takes up the story…

What to do now?
Using Google Meet, we talked to Jessica about the different career paths she was considering. Sam’s opinion was that Jessica had not really shown any great interest in law previously, she was choosing law because some of her peers had chosen ‘prestigious’ courses such as medicine, computer science etc., 

In Jessica’s eyes, teaching was a ‘poor girl’s option’ not on a par with other careers. Reality is a great help when it comes to making one’s mind up. Jessica had spoken to a family friend about the day-to-day business of law, not in a high-flying City setting but in the much more prosaic setting of a market town. Conveyancing, making wills, representing clients in family courts etc., made up the bread and butter of the work. Jessica had also arranged a week’s work experience in a local primary school working in Foundation Stage. The enthusiasm she showed in describing the various activities she had helped with, the rich variety of children’s personalities she encountered and the supportive atmosphere of the school was a clear indication of where her own preference lay.

As the conversation progressed, Jessica became aware herself that her career choice was being influenced ( and not necessarily in a good way) by the destination of her friends. Our discussion changed direction and I reassured Jessica that those all-important school friendships do not last so investing your future in them is dodgy. If choosing teaching is the right course of action- do it.

As our conversation ended, I was reminded of one of my favourite quotes attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt:

You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.

Something I wish I had known myself when I was Jessica’s age !

Top Tips when thinking about what to apply for:

  • Seek advice before deciding and keep options open
  • If at all possible, seek out someone working in the role/s you are considering. Ask them for
    an honest account of their job. Listen carefully to the pros and cons they describe.
  • Listen to friends and peers – just listen – do not give them the power to make your mind up