THE DAY the A-level results arrive is terrible. At least, it is rarely so very had once that fateful envelope has been opened, but waking up and knowing 'today's the day' is enough to make anyone want to play Rip van Winkle.
The most important part of 'Alevel day' is not what is written by your name and list of subjects. but what you do next.
Results are rarely exactly what you expected. They may well be better, but you may also have had an examiner with a migraine. Your results may preclude you going to the college or university — or taking the training course that you had hoped. Or they may be adequate, but you may have doubts about what you had planned anyway.
It is vital to sit down and think (and pray) hard. and not to jump La conelusions. It is never too late to start looking around for alternatives. even if it means waiting a year and doing some voluntary work white you are thinking. Better to wait than be wrong.
Many people are uncertain about their academic future. or how to go about shaping their further education towards something practical. University degrees are notorious for leaving you high and dry with a lot of rather rarified facts and theories.
Other potential students are dubious about the influences of strongly atheistic environments, and are concerned about having their faith unnecessarily cauterised instead of being positively developed during their years of further education.
For many of these schoolleavers, the thought of attending a Catholic college of further education may have not even entered their minds, because of old fashioned images of fuddyduddy training of religious teachers for hopelessly out of date convent schools.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Many of the colleges have strongly vocational degrees granted by major city universities, as well as supplying professional qualifications — such as teaching — at diploma level. Between them England's Catholic colleges offer courses geared to every type of student at a wide variety of academic levels — from diploma to masters degrees.
The general entry requirements are usually two 'A' levels and three other 'O's, or three 'A's and two other subjects at '0' level, but the courses requirements vary. Students do not have to be practising Catholics, but they will find a Christian atmosphere. where they are expected to show mutual respect for others' beliefs. A welcome change from the rather souldestroying university environments. The colleges provide a chance for students to develop their characters. rather than having to fight for existence. yet their academic qualifications are identical to those of the awarding universities.
Many courses range widely from the 'three R's' — St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, for example, offers a good selection of degrees' including BEd qualifications in combined studies, including a Bachelor of Humanities degree in classical studies — a course which does not require Latin or Greek, or previous experience in the subject. The course helps students to study the ancient worlds in a stimulating way with the aim of deepening the student's
understanding of man's life and his relationship to the environ
ment. Also available at St Mary's is an almost unique course (BEd and BE!) in movement studies.
This includes study of the scientific basis of sport, exercise physiology, and the psychology and sociology of sport. as well as practical study of most popular sport and movement. La Sainte Union College of higher education in Southampton also offers a BA and a DipHE in combined studies, including English, modern history. French and German in two and three year courses. They also offer a Dip HE (degree also available) in Modern English and American studies, aimed at developing an understanding of contemporary society in Britain and the United States through comparative studies of literature and history. The course is aimed at equipping would-be journalists, broadcasters. potential executive and middle-management in cornmerce and industry, teachers and tour operators
The De La Salle College, Hopwood Hall, awards BEd, BA. BSc. degrees validated from the University of Manchester. As well as the traditional arts and sciences available, its most unusual course is the Developm e nt, of Contemporary Educational InstitUtions. The course is geared to "give knowledge and critical insightinto the institutions that care for the education and care of children and young people.
Trinity and All Saints College. Leeds has an excellent reputation for its English and foreign language courses, but has gained a particular reputation in recent years for its Communication Arts and Media (CAM) course.
The first year of the course is an introduction to the study of the nature and range of human communication, including written language, graphics, fine art, radio. television and film.
The course is specially designed to provide a broad basis for those interested in working in the public media, as well as giving an excellent basis for understanding the fullest use of modern classroom communication, St Katherines, Christs. and Notre Dame College. Liverpool, provides a general BA degree enveloping a wide curriculum choice. One of the most exciting prospects for students at the
Acomlleegriec,anis etxhcehapnogsesibailtit Wittenberg University for a term, as a part of the American studies course.
Younger school-leavers who would like to take up stucl, abroad may also be interested in a very unusual course offered w lb-year-olds at St Mary's College, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
The International Baccalaureate is an alternative to sixth form or sixth form college, and provides the entry qualifications for universities in almost every country in the world (with the exception of China and some Soviet Bloc countries). The study is just as valid for vocational courses such as medicine, as it is for traditionally academic work.
A good proportion of students who left St Mary's this summer have jobs already, and find that their BEd degrees stand them in good stead for work in libraries, social work and educational administration. as well as teaching.
The newly formed BEd degree offered by Newman College Birmingham. is aimed at improving both academic standing and the professional relevance for the students. The college now has an African and Asian Resources Centre to aid Third World studies, and the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) courses are highly regarded. The courses are directly related to the most recent research into teaching methods and learning theory. Students are taught to analyse different stages of child development, and to understand the relationship between the structure of society, family and the school on the learning ability of children. The courses and very practical, with opportunities for plenty of experience in local schools. Special short courses are also provided on teaching children with learning difficulties and children from ethnic minorities.
There are many places still available on many of the courses outlined above, as well as a wide range of possibilities not even touched upon. Speedy contact with the colleges you think may suit you is vital. Most of the colleges offer the Certificate in Religious Education to Catholic students, which may prove extremely useful at a time when religious education teachers are at a premium,
Reading through prospectuses of the-various colleges may give you ideas for the future you had never thought of, and open up whole new vistas of possibilities. It is worth the effort.