Tag Archives: maths

Charting a course to the ‘good (university) life’

University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow

“I miss maths, Mum.”

Music to the ears of any parent with a teenager about to make choices about what to study at university.

It’s been a long road to get 19 year-old Lyle to this point – only weeks from starting a BSc in Geography at the University of Glasgow. Not in terms of getting the grades he needed – he’s a bright boy who had a choice of offers. But landing on the subject he wanted to study.

Curiously he didn’t actually study Geography at Higher, but the seeds were sown during an epic four days when he crammed for the prelim for his Intermediate 2 – a half way house between Scotland’s Standard Grades and the new National 5 exams – in 2012.

Friends and colleagues will remember me fretting about how a boy with so many choices – a nice position to be in, admittedly – could narrow them down in a world where high graduate unemployment was still an issue (still is, to be honest, from recent surveys that show many graduates are not in graduate jobs).

We poured over university league tables, analysing not only each institution’s performance, but also the job prospects for each course (or at least I was!). Lyle has got both a very logical, analytical brain and a creative one, and as a drummer in a band he was leaning towards music.

With the latest youth unemployment figures ringing in my ears – this was 2013 – we somehow agreed that you could study subjects where the probability of earning a decent wage was much greater and who knows what might happen on the music front – look at the successful bands that were formed through serendipity at Glasgow School of Art.

We narrowed it down to Environmental Science at a couple of notable Scottish universities and everything was going swimmingly until the eleventh hour (accepting a place last summer) when Lyle took cold feet that this might not be what he wanted to do after all. With hindsight, whatever reservations I had about him making his way in the world were banished that day. He decided to take a year out, got a job and now has a bit of money behind him so that university debt isn’t constantly preying on his mind.

So here we are a few weeks off from the next exciting chapter in his life. And I say we because I’m just so curious about the whole process, which at Glasgow involves choosing two other “elective” subjects to accompany the main one – which brings me back to maths!

It’s a subject I was never any good at, so I tried to hide my enormous pride when, in considering his electives, Lyle decided that he really missed maths and that that would be one of them (all my research having previously shown that maths graduates are among the most sought after by employers).

As I write, the third subject could be sociology, or social and public policy, but that might change by tomorrow!

Whatever he decides, though, will be just fine because though we’ve had some heated discussions – “It’s my life!” – an awful lot of thought has gone into getting to this point and the end result is full of promise.