Many universities do not accept General Studies as a legitimate A Level and there has even been talk of this A Level being axed completely. Many people have branded it a “soft subject” or “not a proper A Level” meaning that it is fast losing its credibility. This is a real shame for students who have recently acquired this qualification or are currently working hard towards achieving it. Some universities value General Studies but only as a fourth A Level, which is a lot more work and pressure for an A Level student. Indeed, a representative from The University of Warwick stated in 2012 that: “For most courses here, selectors will exclude general studies from any A Level offer, but some may accept it for the fourth subject at AS level, where this is required’.
General Studies a waste of time?
Taking General Studies as a fourth A Level simply for extra credit is more work and therefore more pressure that could endanger a student’s other A Level grades. So, if an A Level student is aspiring to go to university, a General Studies A Level could be considered a waste of time and energy as it could jeopardise their chances of getting in to their first or second choice. And with more and more students opting to go to university, there is already lots of competition for places.
However, not all students studying A Levels are planning on going to university and some aspire to attend less traditional universities. Although certain high-calibre universities turn their noses up at General Studies, many students find it an enriching, useful subject that is relevant to many careers that they may chose to go in to. To focus purely on whether universities value a particular A Level reinforces the idea that university is necessary and suitable for everyone studying A Levels. As long as students are made aware of certain universities’ attitudes towards this A Level, to enable them to make an informed decision, the subject does not need to be abolished completely.
What can General Studies offer students?
General Studies teaches many valuable skills. The qualification demonstrates a student’s ability to question things and to think critically about aspects of society that many people may not usually think to question. It also encourages students to engage in discussions concerning a variety of world issues. Aside from this it teaches various universally transferable skills such as problem solving, communication and analytical skills and the ability to construct arguments and come to conclusions. It also gives students the opportunity to develop their presentation skills which is an invaluable skill for both university and the workplace.
General Studies may not be particularly useful in terms of accessing university education but it does explore contemporary issues that affect people today. It is therefore relevant and valuable to the lives of young people. It also goes in to ethics and social justice which are extremely important things for people to consider ‘why?’ Some colleges and sixth forms even make General Studies compulsory for their students due to its mind-broadening subject matter which can be considered crucial for the personal development. Overall, the evidence that this subject is valuable to the education of students is undeniable. If the world is to become a more progressive, open-minded and kind place, subjects such as General Studies, Religious Studies and English Literature that encourage empathy, equality and tolerance.
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