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[edited] Subject / career choice errors

I have just reread my 'high school' (11 - 18) school reports which mum has recently discovered in a box in the attic. I wish that I had paid more attention to them when choosing my subjects for O and A level.

Instead of doing mainly maths and sciences by O and A level (the former at 16, the latter at 17/18 years old - Biology, Chemistry and Maths/Stats) I would have done French, Music and either Art, English (I *loved* to read and still do when I can!), Maths or ONE science (not two plus maths)! I only passed the A levels at all because I had a medical note for a glandular fever / mono / epstein barr (sp?) with a negative blood test (they now think it was an MS relapse). In hindsight I had my first nervous breakdown at sixth form college (16-18) which may even have been what triggered the illness.

I do wonder whether, if I had chosen the subjects that I enjoyed more (and did actually show more promise at) but that did not make me look brainy with less work needed for O and A level, I would have:
- had a hellish three years doing a Biochemistry BSc (which I did barely get by dint of medical notes for repeated relapses, meltdowns and 'nervous breakdowns'),
- done MSc Information Technology Conversion for Numerate BSc in one year (apparently the 3 year BSc crammed into 6 months then exams and a 6 month industrial or research placement) because I did not want to live on my feet in a lab-coat over a bunsen burner, test tube or electron microscope (I used one in my final project with pretty much no results) - cue another melt/breakdown,
- had ten years hating a dead end 'career' ('dead end' to me because it paid too well for me to be able to afford to change career - mortgage etc.) as a programmer/QA/UI designer/usability tester,
- eventually burnt out and had my Nth nervous breakdown and MS relapse.

Maybe I would now be a successful artist, musician, writer, editor, photographer (a hobby since I first used my mum's Kodak Brownie at about 8) or some other creative type. All of these 'careers' appeal to me so much...

Admittedly the MS was probably kicking in by age 13 or at least by 18.
At least I was diagnosed for the last year and a bit.

Instead I gave up Art and French in the third year (13/14) to do Sciences, Music and Spanish because sciences were more interesting and easier for me, as was Spanish than French. I would probably have still done Music but not considered it an alternative to Art - I would have wanted to do both and fewer sciences if I was making my subject choices now. Oh to do it all again knowing what I know now.

Also, after reading the article that I linked to the other day about the best words to use to encourage children, talking to my counselor about it yesterday, seeing the words of my teachers in the reports (also the memories that I had lost but have now dug up of what they were like to me in class) and then looking at how I ended up feeling about my abilities (some of which many of the teachers could apparently see but did not, obviously, know how to deal with) makes such a lot of sense now!

Eek - run on sentences!

I may do a follow up post with some quotes from those reports, or I may just assimilate this and try to work through/with it as I look to the future and try to decide what my place in life *could* be, what I would *like* it to be and what I am *capable* of being.

Yeah - long post, loads of philosophical waffle. I now return you to your scheduled programme.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 13th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for your reply! While I did get good parenting, i also had bad careers advice from my sixth form - I wanted to go into teaching - probably maths - and would have loved that. Unfortunately I was told one thing when I chose my A levels and another by my sixth form careers teacher when I was choosing uni courses.

The upshot was that I was told initially that I could do a maths degree with maths and 2 sciences (true) but that I could not without double maths (maths and further mats - I did stats) by the careers department which is why I settled for Biochemistry to combine the other two A levels - Biology and Chemistry. I discovered towards the end of my second of three years on the BSc course that I *could* have got into the same uni with the grades and subjects that I had at A level but by then (and in those days) it was too late to change course - we did not have the major/minor system that the US has back then.

Ah well. Life is sent to try us, I guess.
Nov. 8th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
I remember this post! It made me think about what direction my own education had gone if I were allowed to choose, and what kind of future I wanted for my own kids. Thanks for linking to it!
Nov. 9th, 2007 03:13 am (UTC)
No problems! I am just so happy that your kids will have a better opportunity to learn to the best of their abilities and interest whereas I was not! *hugs*
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Nat S Ford
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