Mmm, this seems like an interesting discussion. I first misread your username as 'Darkacademic' and thought, "how ironic"! I'm surprised you haven't been negged to death considering the forum on which you're posting this, lol: I admire how you've argued such a controversial view so well. I'm going to have to admit that I haven't bothered to read much farther beyond the OP, though.
I completely agree with your opinion of the lack of worth of A-levels, at least insofar as they're meant to measure aptitude and knowledge for certain subjects; without sounding tooooo too bitter, I know plenty of people with near-perfect academic records who've just shown that they can't engage in actual discourse for ****, and demonstrate quite often a lack of ability to think critically, or to form their own ideas/arguments. As for how I think A-levels have affected my own thinking, I could go on and on and on and on and ON. To avoid going on the longest tangent ever, which I'll spare everyone - including myself - for now. Throughout A-levels (really didn't give a **** about anything during my GCSE's
), I've looked forward to university vehemently, mainly because it would be the first time I could actually get good grades as the product of demonstrating original thought, among so many other things.
I'm probably going to be off to university next year, to study Maths & Philosophy at Warwick or Manchester, depending on my grades. Luckily for myself, I'll be just about dodging the 9K a year fees. Now, the think that immediately excited me the most in general, is The Student Experience - I (perhaps erroneously!) see university as an opportunity to really get myself out there, join some societies, form a band, etc. etc. etc. That's something which would be a whole lot harder
if I didn't go to university, and see the prospect of an experience like this as almost priceless. So on a personal level (probably the only aspect I could make an informed contribution on, if at all), for most, university is a complete win.
As for the academic side of things, the things that I want to learn about would probably not be learned in a work experience environment. I'm interested in maths in all its purest forms, and how it lends itself to philosophy; and vice versa. I couldn't imagine learning about metaphysics or epistemology in too many jobs. Psychology, music and literary theory are a few more examples of things I like which could probably only be taught in an environment like a university. Having said that, I'm also interested in loads of things that would probably be learned best through a more practice experience, things like economics and politics. I understand that you could make the argument that I would do best to get some kind of practical work experience kind of course, while just reading about things I love in my own time (would you agree with that?), and that's not an argument I'm informed enough to back up particularly well.
I've a few more things that could be said, but I think I'll just like it like this for now. I can see a huge wall of text forming, in which I've barely said anything worthy of note, and I'm afraid that because I know **** all about such matters, I'd just be wasting everybody's time with my poorly informed drivel!