18 July 2022

Options Open - A change could do you good

Options Open: A change could do you good

Change can be hard. 

Whether the change involves abandoning a bad habit, developing a new skill, or making a big life change, we have all experienced the desire to make a change in our lives. It can be a struggle to bring forth the resolve with which to first decide on making the change, and then to follow through with it. Making a change part way through A Levels should probably be considered as one of the hardest changes which a student can make. It takes bravery, courage, resilience, planning and support at a very young age - and can show a degree of maturity beyond the years of a teenager.

Firstly, it involves, on some level, admitting that one made the wrong choices in the first place. This, however, is a healthy debate to have with oneself, largely because it enables students to return to the question of why they are taking the path they have chosen in the first place. 

Many of the young people who come to study at Ealing express very clearly in their interviews their intended ambitions. A number of them identify medicine or dentistry as their desired career paths, whilst a growing number look towards business and finance. Parents can play a huge part in this initial vision setting.

These students are, on one hand, fortunate. 

A clear focus point gives them drive and purpose - a sense of direction which they can pursue to fulfil their goals. Achieving that goal can be a tremendous feat: a triumphant feeling of relief, coupled with adulation, at doing what one set out to do. 

At the other end of the spectrum, many students face the crushing disappointment of never quite reaching the bar they set for themselves.

What happens in this instance?

Sometimes it takes a great deal of self-reflection to come to the conclusion that things are not working. It isn’t always obvious that one needs to change tack and move towards a new direction. It can often come as a niggling feeling in the back of one’s mind that this ‘just isn’t right’ - a hunch which needs to be followed perhaps. Or it can resonate following other messages, like poor exam results or a failure to connect with a topic or skill required to excel within that subject.

Several students at the College have been through such anguish, but have made proactive decisions to change which have worked out for the better.

Samiya was a student at the College from 2013-2016, and is now a Trainee Clinical Associate Psychologist with the NHS. It was not, however, a straightforward path to get there. Samiya had originally followed a route based on Mathematics and Economics, with a view towards a career in the financial sector. It was part way through her A Level studies when she saw that Psychology was a far more enticing passion for her to prolong into a career. Losing the passion for Maths, she transferred to Sociology and worked hard intensively for a year to master it, performing tremendously well. The flexibility which the College gave her to do so not only made her happy again within her studies, but embellished her study of Psychology which she has dedicated herself to, through undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Jamie, following outstanding results at GCSE, felt that a career within the sciences would be the best pathway for him. To this end, he chose to study Biology, Chemistry and Physics before discovering his interest for Politics during his final year of A Level. Working closely with Politics tutor Phil Brack, Jamie made incredible progress in a short period of time before applying, successfully, to the University of Manchester, to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Having the right support to make such a big alteration for his future gave him the confidence to succeed in making that change with purpose.

Another student who made a challenging decision to change course is Riya, who attended College from 2014-2018. Keen to pursue her interest in the Sciences, perhaps towards medicine or pharmacy, Riya took Philosophy as an accompaniment to Biology and Chemistry. Finding the debating style of the subject, and the lack of conclusive ‘right’ answers a little hard to grasp, she made a decisive decision, after much deliberation, to switch to Psychology. Working with vigour to catch up three months work, Riya’s passion for the subject was quickly ignited by strong teaching. She graduated with superb A Level results, and is now completing her degree at Brunel University in Biomedical Sciences.

Making a career altering decision, alongside changing a school, can complicate matters even further. Dabin came to the College for a year, and undertook just that transformation. Another student attracted to the Sciences, Dabin originally studied Maths, Chemistry and Physics. Offered a place at a university he decided not to attend made him question exactly what he was looking to do with his life, and this drove him towards picking up a neglected passion of his - History. Dabin studied the subject intensively over one year, performing superbly in both Russian and Modern British History, whilst writing an extended essay on the extended investiture contest throughout the crusading movement. Now completing his undergraduate degree at Queen Mary, University of London, whilst dedicating himself to African studies, Dabin was able to transform his career prospects by making a proactive decision, which took a great deal of bravery.

Perhaps you are a student, or the parent of one, who feels that they have run of steam in terms of studying the subjects they initially chose at A Level. Perhaps your plans have changed, but you are not sure what to do to regain momentum towards the ambitions you now have in mind.

Ealing Independent College offers free, no obligation consultations for any students who have reached this type of crossroads. 

Armed with learned, impartial advice, students can ensure that they make empowered choices to fulfil their potential.

We see it as our duty to ensure that students have every opportunity to do so.

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