14 Jan 2011

exams are over...hello blogging!

So, my exams have come and gone (until April and June anyway). This means that I can now resume blogging :)

For those of you interested; I think my exams went okay but won't know til results come out I guess (in a few weeks' time I'm guessing). Anyone saying that A-Levels are getting easier...well, I'm afraid I'm leaning towards the 'agreeing' population rather than the disagreeing population. I managed straight As at A Level with little work (not me boasting, just telling the truth) and I tried doing the same in my first year of uni last year...and well, I didn't end up with the top grade (though I didn't fail any exams and passed them all very well). Part of that was down to the fact that I never got pushed to my limits in order to achieve those straight As as everything was spoonfed to me from my teachers. A Level papers were getting more and more predictable and just by doing past papers, one could gauge how to answer questions, and answer them well. I didn't do easy A Levels; the ones I carried onto my last year of high school were biology, chemistry and maths.

Like I said before, I'm not boasting; but I do think the A Level system has to change in order to get the best out of university students. For those who have been brought up as bookworms or are natural workaholics (I confess to be this when it comes to things I'm interested in...less so when it comes to uninteresting things though!), it's okay as they have the work ethic and right frame of mind for studying honed; so they'll end up with not so much of a shock. However, I do feel that A Level underprepares thousands of students for the various degree courses they end up on. The structure of a degree, the amount of work required to put into a degree course and also the self discipline needed is completely different to anything you'll have ever done in high school.

With all this in mind, all I can say is that I'm glad that I will be graduating before the rise in tuition fees. I mean, don't get me wrong, I would still probably have come to university to do a degree as I do think it's worthwhile and I don't regret choosing this university (even though I say I do in the lead up to exams) but for those who weren't as positively minded as I was during A Levels, they may begin to have second thoughts. Because, all I can say is that, having experienced over a year of university now, I wish that I had opted to transfer to another Sixth Form or school in order to do the IB (International Baccalaureate) which many claim to be a far more useful in preparation for university.

And one last thing: I'm not slagging off the coalition government. I've been supporting the rise in tuition fees as I feel that a rise in these fees will encourage young people to do degrees in subjects that are more worthwhile rather than dilly dallying their time in subjects with little or no merit. I'm not a snob and I'm not elitist, and I'm certainly not from a posh family (in fact, up until a few years ago, my parents were deemed working class!), but I do feel that some people only do degrees for the sake of doing them. We need to accept that higher education is not for everyone - sometimes an apprenticeship is a far better option. Apologies if I have offended anyone with this post; but I just feel that sometimes, university is far too overhyped in this country. University is not a right; it is a privilage - for those with the passion, brains and commitment to study something for at least three years - not something which should be experienced just for the sake of it.


  1. "University is not a right; it is a privilage - for those with the passion, brains and commitment to study something for at least three years - not something which should be experienced just for the sake of it."

    I agree with this statement but disagree that raising tuition fees is the answer. If passion, brains and commitment are the requirements then demand evidence of these for a place at uni. Cash and commitment are not the same thing. I will graduate this summer owing the government almost thirty thousand pounds. I can't completely get my head round that number but it terrifies me, and I'm in a field (medicine) that probably has the highest chance of all of getting a graduate job straight out of uni. More loans, or less chance of getting a job afterwards? There's no way I would be here.

    The bit about changing study habits I'm not sure on. I felt ready for uni after my A levels (although I did them in 2005; not sure how much has changed) but for me GCSE to A level was a big jump. Similar to you I had previously sailed through without having to study and all of a sudden things were different. Sigh. Maybe everyone has this big jump at some stage? I don't know.

    (I just realised I think this is only the first time I've commmented on your blog! I'm not trying to pick a fight, I love your writings!)

  2. Great post, I hope you did well! :) Just curious...did you make the header on your blog yourself? I am wanting to make one for my own blog but not sure how to start...just curious if you have any tips? Thanks!

  3. You do make some good points. I think that many young people have been fooled into pursuing degrees for the sake of it with the expectation that they will automatically become high earners afterwards. My brother in law runs a business (he never went to uni) and has complained that many of the young people coming it think they know everything and that they are better than those without degrees,and go as far as not wanting to train under them when the actual fact is that they don't know very much at all!! Many people are choosing the same subject areas such as media/journalism and of course there is a limit on these types of careers.

    I don't want to unfairly criticise those students who work hard at A levels as it is not their fault but the system's but you are absolutely correct with respect to the quality of the exams. It is difficult to identify who the best students are as the A grade is no longer able to differentiate. It seems ridiculous to me that you need to gave an A* grade and the top universities have introduced entrance exams to deal with this. Richer students can obviously afford the prep for this so yet another blow to those from less advantaged backgrounds. Although the jump from high school to uni should be noticeable if A levels were doing the job, first year uni students would not have so much of a shock and it puts pressure on uni lecturers to bring them up to scratch.
    University education is not a right (I think high school education is) but I do feel for those who will have to deal with the tripling in university fees and again this will hit the poorest hardest, although the middle classes will also be squeezed. I hope it doesn't widen the inequalities gap but the high unemployment amongst our young people and the tuition fees will definitely make people think hard about going to university.
    Take care :-)

  4. Thanks for your comments, both of you.

    Kaitlyn- sorry for such a late reply! Yes, I made the header myself :] You could maybe try drawing something out by hand, scanning it and then tweaking it on Photoshop if time allows?

    CP - I agree with everything you've said. After my degree, I'm dreading going out to work for the fear of knowing nothing! So in a way, I'm the complete opposite of what you have described in your first paragraph. However, already in my course, I've come across people who are VERY confident and are quite the 'know it alls' - and as we all know, over confidence is more a downfall than a good thing.

    And with A Levels, I agree that some people do work very hard for them - but in a way, teaching does play a bit part. My teachers knew pretty much how to teach the students to get the A (and now A*) grades so it's pretty much the system that is the problem, not the students or teachers. Coming from a school where some pupils bought their way in (not me, I add. I was one of the less privilaged students!), I can only say that money can only take you so far as the people who did buy their places ended up bombing in their exams (GCSE and AS Level!). Not that I'm saying that's a nationwide trend - more like what I have seen myself.

  5. Alannarama - for some reason, your comment was tagged as spam. I have no idea why, you'll have to ask Blogspot if you want the answer :] And honestly, I don't think you're picking a fight. After all, everyone will have their own take and opinion on these rise of tuition fees and your points are equally valid as anyone else's.

    Also, congratulations on graduating this year :] I (honestly) don't want to leave university now that I'm here - entering the world of work sounds even more scary than the jump from A Level to university lol!