With all this talk about NEET – Not in Employment Education or Training – I thought it might be interesting to reflect upon my own recent experience as a father of two teenage boys – 17 and 19.
Our eldest collected a good set of Higher results (2 As, 2 Bs, 2 Cs) and set off for Edinburgh University in September of last year to study Physical Education. Right from the word go he didn’t enjoy the course and it soon became apparent that it wasn’t for him. He hung on until January but we were proud of him when he made the difficult decision to leave. Since then he’s been working on a variety of odd jobs – mostly labouring – with the aim of earning enough money to help him go off on a diving expedition to Fiji in the New Year. He has also been taking this time to consider what he wants to do with the rest of his life and has decided that he’d like to go back to Edinburgh to study Accountancy (he loved Edinburgh).
Of course he’s now terrified that he might make the wrong choice again. His solution has been to apply for a trainee position at a local accountancy company for the coming year. He was interviewed today and starts on Monday in a salaried post. The great thing about this is that it will give a tremendous insight into the profession, provide him with set of skills and knowledge which he might put to good use at university, but most importantly allow him to make an informed decision about whether accountancy is for him or not.
It’s strange that only two weeks ago he had said that he would like to have had a crystal ball -to help him see what he might be doing in the future – well it looks like his crystal ball has materialised.
All this makes me think that going to university straight out of sixth year is not for all young people. I’m not advocating gap years but I’m convinced that some “life” experiences prior to committing to any course of study would certainly of benefit.
And his brother? – well we reckon that he’s a success story in his own right – never really very academically focussed – he crashed and burned in his Standard Grades -but he got 2 Bs and a C in his Highers, and an A in Intermediate 2 English this week – due to some really hard studying and a Learning Log on which he kept all his notes. He hopes to get another three Highers in 6th year and he probably will – due in no small part to his self belief that studying can work.
His plans? – well he’s off to New Zealand this time next year to play rugby – which he’s had in mind since he was 12 years old – now that’s what I call forward planning !!!