“Workaholic”, settling into college, and the undermining of humanity based alevel subjects.

The transition to Alevel from GCSE was probably one of the things that I fretted most: both my secondary school teachers and now Alevel teachers vowed that the jump would be very big, however, the somewhat changeover has not been too extreme. In fact, new friends have labelled me, in a light hearted manner, a “workaholic”, in addition to being likened to that of a robot, who apparently works non stop from dawn till dusk.

This however, is not the case: being someone who simply takes pleasure in doing work and getting it out of the way – for lack of a better phrase – is the reason behind my strategy, not because I enjoy sitting at a desk from 5pm into the evening on a weekday. *I can assure you all that I do take regular breaks and procrastinate as much as anyone else does, which is a lot. 

Any who, I have been attending college for a month now and have presented two presentations, written one essay and have had five assessments, in addition to participating in debate and discussion in many of my new lessons.

Government and Politics, History, English Literature and Sociology are stressful Alevels to say the least, especially when homework is given everyday – sometimes  due for the next week or the next lesson. Although I have become accustomed to doing it, so far I have had many downfalls and falldowns – sometimes when I have wanted to completely give up on college and some when I have sat at my desk in a very foul mood. Despite this, having nearly survived the first half term, I know that it is too easy (for alevels) to give up as it will only get harder, a challenge which I think I am ready to accept.

With reference to my alevel subjects, although very enjoyable and thought provoking, many of them are undermined by the view that they are apparently less difficult than scientific and technological based subjects such as Physics, Mathematics and Information Technology, for example. The stigma around these subjects being more academic infuriates me: being someone who has opted for four essay based alevels, rather than choosing the cliched “more difficult” scientific alevels, I have come to realise why people think this.

As sectors in the UK become more hostile to the ramification of austerity, enforced by the Conservative government again, lingering cuts and increases in tuition fees mean that there has been a gradual increase in those opting to pursue scientific and/or medical degree courses. This is simply due to the prospect of not getting a job after graduation, which thus equates to more people wanting to pursue higher education in a subject which is more likely to get them a job. Evidence which supports this is that the most popular degree in 2014 was Nursing, with 238,000 applications; it can be argued that with a biology/medicine related course, it is easier to get a job with the NHS. In addition, it is known that sometimes fees are not granted if one takes their course while training with the NHS and perhaps sometimes, a job is always guaranteed at the end, making this choice in course a worthwhile one.

However, in stark contrast, it was reported that in 2012 English degrees had lost 10% of their average application base, and still has not been able to recover. Despite this, prior to the introduction of tuition fees, History was loathing in the highest application count and although it had fallen by 4%, it has quickly recovered and redeemed itself of the 4% decrease. The evidence above has direct correlation with the fact that although humanities based alevels may entice students, fees are still evidently deterring people.

Despite the former being reasons why one may want to avoid pursuing university courses such as History and English, in addition to subjects relating to arts, it has been well publicised that these areas will most likely stop a post graduate from getting a job. Nevertheless, it is my opinion that it has not been publicised enough, by the government, that there are job shortages which urgently need filling.

The government’s approved job shortage list of 2014 states that, dancers/choreographers, chefs, artists and musicians, as well as Modern Foreign Language graduates are needed; this to me is peculiar in a society where these professions are seen as almost inferior to popular jobs such as Medical Assistants and IT Analysts.

To me, it is sad that people who pursue careers in music, art and dancing, for example, have to this day, never been on par with someone who has graduated in the likes of a job which apparently grants them more academic experience, and perhaps more of a “professional” status; in my own experience, family members have been firm believers in this mentality.

Living with a parent who had lost their job because of cuts, going from being a teaching consultant back into the classroom as a teacher, highlighted the fact that no profession is safe with ongoing slashes to sectors in every part of society, some examples follow.

  • There have been cuts in the NHS, in addition to the looming fear of the privatisation of the NHS – however, some do argue that this idea is the rise of ‘New Labour’ scare mongering.
  • Law firms and soliciting companies are shutting down quicker than it takes one to blink.
  • Cuts and redundancies are being made in education, left right and centre.
  • Public service jobs, such as bus drivers, are having their hours cut, while bus fares are increasing (I was charged £2.20 on the bus, atrocious price, I know).

All of the former simply deduce that in the current sphere of politics and gradual ease away from recession, it is best to not premeditate jobs which are seen to be stable and that it is better to endeavour in a, “go with the flow”, approach. Additionally, to enjoy what you are currently studying rather than fretting over the apparent lack of jobs in these areas.

The lesson that I have learned from conducting research and reading reports is that if one focuses too much on what may not be at the end of the tunnel, the graft – i.e. Alevels, while digging the tunnel will be less worthwhile and productive indeed.


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