It’s important students consider their post-school plans early – but with so many options, where should they start?

Subject ideas

A few light conversations over dinner or while watching TV – as opposed to an intimidating sit down talk about ‘the future’ – is probably the best way to get them thinking about their next steps.

If that step is university, but they’re struggling to get inspired by a particular subject, try to get them thinking about potential areas of study, in terms of:

  • a subject they study now – if it’s the subject they love and are best at, get them to consider whether it’s going to keep them interested for the next few years, and which career path(s) it might lead to
  • a subject related to a career – if they already have more vocational ambitions, explore together whether they need to study a particular degree subject to get a job in that field, or if the options are more flexible
  • a completely new subject – there are many degree-level disciplines they won’t have encountered in their studies before. Assess their suitability for these with an open mind, relating each back to what they enjoy and how they learn best.

Subject guides

Our guides are packed full of great stats and information to help your child discover what it’s like to study a subject, how to get into it, and the career opportunities available.

They can quickly view relevant courses, apprenticeships, and job opportunities, and see profiles of employers and the universities and colleges where they can study those courses.

Go to subject guides

Early decisions

The decisions your child makes early on, even as far back as GCSE (or equivalent) options, can have an impact on what – and where – they end up studying for their degree. It all depends on what they want to do in the future, but some extra thought early on could pay off later down the line.

Choosing GCSEs, National 5s, A levels, Highers, T Levels, or BTECs (or equivalent)

If your child has an idea of what they want to study, get them to check the entry requirements – these may mention particular subjects or qualifications they’ll need, as well as any grades they’ll need to get on to the course.

They might not be able to apply to certain courses without having taken specific qualifications – for example, GCSE chemistry may be a requirement for medicine courses.

Check entry requirements
Most university courses have minimum GCSE entry requirements in English and maths.

Still undecided about university?

It’s not unusual for young people to be unsure about their future at this stage, so try not to worry! Encourage them to keep their options open by selecting commonly asked for subjects in university entry requirements.

These are known as ‘facilitating’ subjects, and include:

  • the sciences
  • English
  • geography
  • history
  • maths
  • languages

Doing what they enjoy most and are good at is always a good idea too, as this is usually the subject(s) they’ll do best in and go on to study.