to ask if DC shouldn't bother with university if they can't get into a Russell Group one?

(663 Posts)
TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 18:31:36

I'd never heard of the ruddy things before I joined MN. Didn't even realise I'd been to one. I do recall when I had a tedious summer job in Human Resources which included "sifting" job applications for an international firm of accountants, being told to dump any that weren't from a handful of universities.

So my question is; if your child can't get into an RG university - should they accept that they will be unemployable oiks upon graduation and resign themselves to a life working in call centres?

Copthallresident Wed 26-Jun-13 19:44:40

Congratulations to your DS Exotic.

exoticfruits Wed 26-Jun-13 19:41:45

Good luck jacks- it just means keep plugging on and keep faith it will all work out in the end. But in answer to OP you should certainly bother if you don't get RG. DS only applied to 3 universities and he withdrew from one before the interview- they were the only ones he wanted to go to and none of them were RG.

jacks365 Wed 26-Jun-13 19:30:50

Congratulations to your son exotic. That'll be me in 4 years ( 4 year masters plus industry year) I'm hoping things will have improved but who knows, any advantage helps

exoticfruits Wed 26-Jun-13 19:20:39

Thanks Southeastdweller- I can't tell you how many sleepless nights it has given me! Far my toughest part of being a parent. ( same problem with his older brothers as they met 'the real world'. )

Southeastdweller Wed 26-Jun-13 19:18:01

27 pages in less than two weeks!

I'm happy for you exotic. The graduate landscape is so tough at the moment isn't it. Yep, there's so much more to getting on than going to the 'right' uni.

exoticfruits Wed 26-Jun-13 19:15:06

My graduate son has a job!! He heard today! It took 13months. That is the reality of graduate employment today. He didn't go to a RG, but then they didn't do his course. (Even Xenia would be impressed by the company smile ) it has been a long, hard 13 months - especially worrying as another batch of students have just graduated.
They jump through all the right educational hoops and then they meet real life and it is tough- far worse than it was even 10 yrs ago.
Good luck to anyone else- but RG isn't the answer - find the best place for your subject.

grumpyoldbat Sun 23-Jun-13 17:53:46

The Scottish system allows you to study more subjects to a higher level. However I admit that due to the number of changes I have vowed not to pay too much attention to the current exam system until dd gets nearer to that age group.

Before I'm flamed she has a while before school even starts for her so she has a lot more basic stuff to learn before considering exams. Although as it has been pointed out on this and other threads I have set such a bad example with my abject failure she is perhaps already doomed to fail anyway sad. Having said that if any teacher tries to write her off while still a child this idiot will have something to say about it.

lljkk Sun 23-Jun-13 10:19:24

Most of the vocational schools in South Korea are private, some of which are really supportive of misfits, I wouldn't compare to what you can expect from UK state education. I read the on-time-graduation rate from high school was still as low as 93%.

SK also gets criticised for over-education, parents miring themselves in debt for it.

Copthallresident Sun 23-Jun-13 09:02:56

However I would add that my Maths O level and study to the age of 16 has been a very adequate base for me to gain the further Maths skills I needed for work and to cope with degree level Maths on my MBA. I remember when faced with having to calculate the equation to find the values on a demand curve I just sat down with an A level text book and worked my way through the more advanced Calculus, and ended up getting much closer to the answer than a lot of economics graduates. Likewise in my work I have had to develop a far more sophisticated knowledge of statistics and modelling than my daughter has for her Maths A level and now, for use in experimental Science . Unless you are going to study pure Maths the range of ways in which you may want to apply it would be very hard to cover in a post 16 syllabus.

I think that probably has an awful lot to do with the amazing teaching I had, a teacher who was really able to equip us with a thorough grounding in the basic logic on which I have since built, educated us rather than taught to the exam. And I do think the GCSE syllabus could develop to cover more of the trigonometry and calculus we did cover (without hopefully requiring as much rote learnt regurgitation) and of course the exam system could be improved to ensure it is a fair test and avoid this sort of outrageous balls up which had the majority of DDs peers in tears and fearing for their university places www.independent.co.uk/incoming/edexcel-maths-alevel-mixup-leaves-students-concerned-for-university-places-8659284.html

Copthallresident Sun 23-Jun-13 08:39:57

GCSEs are for another thread. However the point about the Chinese and Korean education systems is relevant. Our universities are filled with Asian students, not just our RG ones, and not just STEM courses. They clearly think a non RG degree is worth bothering with in terms of the global marketplace. Their rigid exam focused education systems are under pressure to change so that pupils emerge with the transferrable skills, thinking and team working, that have been highlighted on this thread as important to success in the world of work.

I was on a uni visit yesterday, actually RG but also looking at a course that was very differentiated from any other unis including the RG ones, it reflected the unique thinking of it's leading academic, rather than being a RG commodity. The fact that my DD seems now likely to put it at the top of her preferences is linked to that, not it's RG status (and our list of those unis we are visiting was based on the subject tables and includes ine non RG)

Whilst the academic approach was unique there was an emphasis on the skills that students would emerge equipped with for the world of work. The academics were actively involving alumni in developing their courses to better prepare students for employment. However that leading academic also focused on how important it was that students emerged with value not just in terms of their potential to contribute to the economy but as thinking people who would make a vital contribution to a democratic liberal society. I was with someone educated in Asia who had originally had a blue fit when her DD had presented her with a list of unis to visit that went beyond the very top of the RG (but were top for her chosen course) but a tour of unis had opened her eyes to the huge variation in what was on offer, and completely changed her perceptions. They particularly responded to the importance of the latter skills.

wordfactory Sun 23-Jun-13 08:19:28

DS school take the view that no one in it should be allowed (except in very unusual circumstances) to give up maths post GCSE.

They do the exam in year 10 and then continue in year 11, taking it further.

It seems to work very well. Though I would have hated it. Couldn't wait to give up maths at 16, me!

mathanxiety Sun 23-Jun-13 00:28:42

No I don't. I think it is perfectly fine as methods go though. I also know enough about science to understand that it is constantly being refined by its very nature, and I have confidence that the refinement takes us in general in the direction of improvement. I am opposed to throwing out the baby with the bathwater and remaking it in the name of some very dubious theory of 'knowing'.

'...the Scientists who teach my DD at the university that has produced the largest number of Nobel Prize winning Scientists are training her to understand that Science cannot eliminate bias, objectivity in scientific method should never be taken for granted, that a Scientist has to be conscious of every possible source of bias, and that implicit social cognition, unconscious thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control is something they should be aware of and consider, including those tied up with gender.'

That is the way my DCs were taught science, beginning in fourth grade. It's what I was taught, way back in the late Jurassic.
There is nothing new in any of this.

GCSEs are getting more useless by the day in a world where the children of Korea and China are the competition. Even in Ireland, the old Intermediate Cert and Group Cert (now the Junior Cert) are no longer considered sufficient evidence of preparation for work in the real world.

When I was in school my year went from 6 homerooms to 4 after the Inter Cert. My old school has got a lot rougher in the interim but students are staying and doing the Leaving Cert in huge numbers. Ireland has a retention rate in secondary education to age 18 of 90% with even schools in deprived areas showing gains and boys showing signs of approaching parity with girls outside of deprived areas. However, it is still only 7th in the EU for proportion of people aged 20 to 24 who have at least completed the full secondary cycle (87%). Apart from Irish and maths, the majority of students doing the Established Leaving Cert take higher level papers (from a choice of higher, ordinary and foundation). Awarding bonus points for grades in higher level maths has resulted in about a 30% increase in the numbers taking it.

In addition there are three avenues available to suit a student's needs - Established (traditional academic track), Vocational (similar to academic track, 5 core subjects taken, plus a modern language plus 'preparation for the world of work' and 'enterprise education') and Applied (students take General Education, Vocational Education and Vocational Preparation over two years It is non academic but includes maths and communication skills as well as a modern language alongside vocational training. Something for everyone, and designed to make staying until 18 perceived as useful and eventually it is hoped, the norm.

I don't think the UK should be happy about students dropping maths or leaving school at 16. The international trend seems to be in the opposite direction. 97% of Korean teens complete high school.

lljkk Sat 22-Jun-13 19:36:20

See, I don't like the American model, where they have to continue to 18 or they get nothing. One of the few things I vastly prefer in England is how they can target 16 to get something and for those who aren't academic they can then take a different direction. Compulsory school leave age has changed so much hard to make comparisons, but I suspect the "drop out" rate here is lower.

2007 data: about 31% of American kids don't get HS diploma when they should (almost 2/3 will get it back with night school).
2011 data (apologies if link fails): Only 14-24% of British 16-17yos don't have GCSEs or other qualifications.

Copthallresident Sat 22-Jun-13 18:31:38

maths you assume that existing Scientific method is entirely objective. However the Scientists who teach my DD at the university that has produced the largest number of Nobel Prize winning Scientists are training her to understand that Science cannot eliminate bias, objectivity in scientific method should never be taken for granted, that a Scientist has to be conscious of every possible source of bias, and that implicit social cognition, unconscious thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control is something they should be aware of and consider, including those tied up with gender. Hence they are making sure they are exposed to the latest debate on the subject.

That's an entirely different issue to whether there is a difference in the ability of girls and boys to be good Scientists, mathematicians etc. obvioulyI wouldn't agree with that having encouraged my DD to be a Scientist. It is also a different issue to why women are underrepresented in Science, which has many complex causes.

mathanxiety Sat 22-Jun-13 15:25:36

I remember being absolutely shocked when I learned that students in the UK could drop maths after O levels (long time ago). A system like that perpetuates the sexist 'boys do maths and science and girls do touchy feely subjects' pattern that exists simply by allowing students to continue at subjects that they see as their strengths and not forcing them to work at those they find difficult. It's acceptable for girls to say they find maths difficult or to decide that they are better at English, and because the system allows it they can drop maths and concentrate on English, History, Law, Latin (for example) but still get into a very good university, and very few people ask them to reconsider.

If all students had to do a core that included maths and science as well as English, some humanities and another language then I suspect many girls would discover they were maths material after all, and that there are boys out there who could slog through Jane Austen, daunting though the prospect might be. I feel the Irish system is better from the pov of encouraging girls to ignore the shibboleths. And for the same reason I like the way the US does it, though that is really not a system, just the choices of high school students dictated by the requirements of the sort of universities they are trying to get into. The result is students not daring to drop maths unless they had gone as far as doctorate level in high school.

Xenia Sat 22-Jun-13 11:44:18

Indeed. My brother who read medicine at Cambridge I think won some prizes for his writing. I was pretty good at maths but did arts subjects. I cannot say I have kept the maths up (although I won a prize in tax law and have always been my own accountant and book keeper and VAT person so I suppose there are elements of maths in that).

However I don't support the IB unless it is just a choice with A levels as I was delighted to concentrate just on 3 subjects in the sixth form, although I put myself in for music O level which my school did not do in the lower sixth and did well without any lessons.

I think what I want most from education and indeed from parents helping children is to give them choices so that they might well be very musical but keep it as a hobby or sporty and they have those things all their lives. You don't need to do A levels in the subject to keep it up as a past time all your life.

Whilst I would never stifle science even if it became politically incorrect, even if it tried to show women or blacks were not very bright etc I do think we can take it too far, in saying things like if it had been Lehmann sisters banks would not have failed. Plenty of women are ambitious and like money and power and to beat others (I do). those are not male values. They are values some humans have.

MarshaBrady Sat 22-Jun-13 11:16:30

And that people can't be good at both, it's often a false division.

LaQueen Sat 22-Jun-13 11:12:10

Xenia there's very strong links I think between maths/music?

DD2 is learning the violin [winces] and technically she's seriously good, so I understand from her teacher?

Same with DD1 who is really good at sport. She plays tennis, cricket and netball. She represents her school in all three sports. She also plays on a local girls' cricket team.

Up until very recently she has played on a mixed cricket team at school, with the boys. She's just as strong, just as good as any of the boys (and better than most), she's a mean fast bowler with a really good bowling action (DH has really put her through her paces, training her to bowl properly, so she would be taken more seriously).

But, suddenly we've just heard that she's not playing on the school team next year (Yr 6). Because in Yr 6, the boys play cricket and represent the school at cricket. However, DD1 will still be on the netball team hmm

I shall be going into school shortly to rectify this situation...

At her girls' grammar school, she will (presumably) be welcomed with open arms on the cricket team, with no one to turn her away, just because she's a girl.

MarshaBrady Sat 22-Jun-13 11:11:13

Maths and physics were amongst my favourites. I also loved European lit. I remember they clashed advanced statistics with the latter. It still annoys me to this day, a bit, that people assume that there has to be the sciences/ arts division and people won't want to do both.

I liked the talk the Head gave at an all boys' school. Made sense to let them explore all subjects.

Xenia Sat 22-Jun-13 11:04:14

I liked maths as you could get 100%. It was like music theory where I also used to like to try to get 100%. I did not however do it for A level. I was at an all girls' school and my daughters were so there were no subjects girls didn't do. It works the other way too. If you are into music and want your 12 year old sons to sing complex latin anthems in choirs much easier to achieve at boys' schools where the choir is not seen as girly than in a mixed school.

LaQueen Sat 22-Jun-13 10:49:38

Plus, I don't think for a second that boys are just inherently better at maths, than girls.

It's purely down to girls being informed from a young age that 'There...there...maths is hard...boys are good at maths...but you're very good at drawing (or whatever), do some more drawing.'

I saw this in myself, all the way through secondary school. Okay, so I wasn't great at maths...but, I'd been competent until the age of 9/10.

But, then when I was clearly becoming much stronger at English/Art - I was hugely encouraged down that path. And, my maths was left behind, with kind of a shrug and a wink from teachers 'Never mind...we can't all be good at maths...but your last essay was brilliant.'

I should not have been allowed to leave my maths by the wayside.

However, I do think that people are born with a predisposition towards maths, but it's nothing to do with gender.

DD2 is seriously gifted at maths (as is DD1, but to a lesser extent). They've inheritied it from DH. DD2 has always been able to just do maths, without even breaking a sweat. Homework that has her friends really struggling, and grimacing, she breezes through with one eye on the TV. Even her extension maths sheets don't give her any trouble.

I don't think you can even praise her for it...she's never had to work at it. She was born with it. DH encourages her, and does stuff with her and DD1, that is now beyond my ability to follow.

And, it would never occur to her that she couldn't be as good as a boy at maths, simply because she was girl.

LaQueen Sat 22-Jun-13 10:36:53

DH and I are both really happy that our DDs will go to an all girls' grammar school.

We both believe that girls perform much better, academically (especially in maths/sciences), when there aren't boys around (and vice versa).

Infact the DD's girls' grammar actually out performs the boys' grammar in all subjects. Yes, even maths/sciences smile

Xenia Sat 22-Jun-13 10:32:58

(It is not however true that the 8% of children at fee paying schools who get 50% of the best university places and go on to be 80% of judges, and all those other massive percentages in terms of successful jobs all struggle at university and miss tutors - my children were not tutored and did fine at very selective private schools and did not fall by the way side and do badly at good universities. I really think state school parents make this point far too much on mumsnet and it's just not true. Also plenty of children at non selective fee paying schools cannot get into good universities even never mind fall by the wayside once they do get in.In fact there is little a mother can do better for her child than pick a career which enables her to pay school fees)

MarshaBrady Sat 22-Jun-13 09:44:17

Fortunately the top students in maths and physics still included girls at our mixed school. There was a healthy attitude towards science and maths subjects. But it did get a lot better with streaming as we got older.

I do like single sex for that too, and for boys. I don't want them to think some things are off-limits either.

Spero Sat 22-Jun-13 09:37:39

Good post math. I managed a physics B at O level at all girls school. Probably wouldn't have touched it at mixed school which is v sad.

Step - if it is any comfort, I too have witnessed awful behaviour from senior ranking lawyers/bankers in terms of infidelity and general marital disharmony. But I think it is a bit chicken and egg. Jobs like that do put a strain on family life because hours are so punishing, but equally people attracted to those kind of jobs may not be that family orientated to begin with.

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