Do you have a career, job, subject in mind? What are you interested in?
This could be as specific as ‘architect’ or as broad as ‘fashion’ – it’s mainly to establish whether the student has an interest to begin with.
- If they have an interest or career in mind, consider helping them look at courses available in that subject. Higher Education institutions like UCA categorise their courses by subject and are able to help advise and direct students who aren’t sure which course would be best for them.
- If they are interested in a broader subject but haven’t narrowed it down yet, introduce them to pre-degree and Year 0 courses. These are designed to help them make this choice and teach them the skills they need along the way.
- Open days and UCAS or careers fairs are a great opportunity for them to explore what options are available to them.
Do you practice already?
‘Practicing’ can be defined in many ways. Do they study the subject in school? If not, are they a member of a club, do they paint and draw at home, do they make videos? Do they read all about the subject, watch films about it, research it online? Are they dedicating any of their own time to the subject?
- If they don’t practice much yet, for instance because the option isn’t available in school, or they don’t have access to the resources they need, consider helping them to research and join clubs in the local area.
- Programmes like Summer and Easter Schools at UCA and the National Saturday Club can give them the opportunity to find out more and build a portfolio.
- Reading, researching and watching things about the subject counts too. If they’re keen on filmmaking, for instance, then local libraries often have DVD sections, or a subscription to Netflix and video essays on YouTube can help broaden their knowledge.
- If they are practicing, then actively encourage it, and perhaps suggest that they keep a sketchbook of what they do or create, the ideas that they have and their inspiration. This will become an essential tool for creating portfolios and preparing for interviews in the future.
Do you want to go to university?
Some students don’t, and that’s an option too. Depending what level of study they’re in, they can consider a Foundation degree or Extended Diploma, or even an internship or apprenticeship that could bring them into the world of work.
- If they want to go to university, then encourage them to explore Open Days, UCAS events and to research online. If it’s not clear if they will be able to find the right degree for their career, then encourage them to get in touch with institutions and ask for advice – often creative courses teach skills that are transferrable (for example, it is not uncommon for graduates with a degree in Architecture to eventually work in the video games industry).
- If they don’t want to go to university, then it’s important for them to know what other options are available and ensure that they have a plan. For instance, if they producing and perhaps even selling their work, then maybe a short business course would suit them so that they can learn about owning a business or being self-employed, and how to network. Otherwise, now is the time to look for employment opportunities, internships and apprenticeships.
- The other option that sits between school and university is a pre-degree course. Our flow chart opposite shows the structure of the courses available at UCA from GCSE through to undergraduate, with postgraduate study as an option afterwards.