I don't think I'd enjoy ANY physics career! (Should I be an artist instead?) Watch

YatoSan
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I'll try to keep this as 'brief' as possible

I'm in year 12, currently studying A Levels in physics, maths, chemistry and Japanese (self-studying.)

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love physics and I'm fascinated by pretty much everything I read about the subject. I'm enjoying the A Level course a lot so far... however, I've noticed two things recently:

1. Lately I've been spending a good portion of my day thinking about how much I want to draw/ paint.

2. Coming to the realisation that there probably aren't any physics careers I'd enjoy if I managed to get a degree in physics. I know it's probably quite dumb for me to be ruling out things based on the information I've read on the internet (trust me, I've done a lot of research!) but based on the stuff I've read, here are the things I've semi- 'ruled out' so far:

- I could NEVER work at a computer screen 24/ 7 doing coding (I'd love to do digital art though!) This would mean I'd dislike working at tech companies and probably a lot of research institutions too (I think. I've read that a lot of research positions require an extra 4 years of a PhD plus postdoctoral positions. Honestly, this is too many years of commitment!)
-Engineering... well, I have Raynaud's syndrome (a circulatory problem affecting the hands), so I probably wouldn't be able to work properly in winter when my hands get cut easily and they go cold and blue...
-Teaching- it doesn't interest me.
-Medical careers. I have little/no interest in biology or medical physics.

As a side point, I had to beg my school to let me study A Level maths with a grade 7 in GCSE. I'm not exactly 'natural' at maths but I can get a decent grade with a lot of hard work.

Despite the fact that I'm extremely passionate about physics, do the above points suggest that I'm probably not suited for a career in it? I'm trying to find work experience in the hope that this might help, but it's been very hard to find anything (there aren't many schemes in my area.)

Would there be ANY point in doing a physics degree (and possibly enjoying it..?) but then not finding any careers that I'd enjoy?

I could, on the other hand, take a foundation year in art and design at university and then go on to a concept art / illustration course. At least I'd know that I would definitely enjoy this.

But being accepted involves making a portfolio, which would mean taking chunks of time out of studying for my four (already heavy) subjects! I can't switch from chemistry to art now; chemistry is difficult but I like it, and it's already halfway through the second term.

Options: I could prioritise grades and go for physics, or slack on the grades just a little more to build up a portfolio and go for art.

(Sorry, this ended up longer than I'd expected!) I just hope that if I studied art, I'd have no regrets about not taking physics any further. I'm currently so confused and I'd probably find it even harder to make an informed decision if I left it any longer.

Thank you so much for reading this. All advice will be greatly appreciated. (To summarise: Help! I feel like I'm being torn in half!)
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stressed0ut
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Having been to loads of physics open days at unis (I’ve applied for physics) everyone’s been saying a physics degree can get you into any career, so you don’t need to work within physics after you graduate. However, if you really want to do art then obviously you should go and do that. Drawing and painting to build a portfolio could be a brilliant stress relief from a levels. How are you finding maths in your physics lessons? Because apparently the maths in a physics degree is kinda hard, so if you’re hating it now.......

Also, is it worth considering doing the foundation year and then making the decision about art or physics? Because the UCAS deadline isn’t until January, so you could have a good chance to make your mind up (or you could take a year out after that and make a decision)
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artful_lounger
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Many graduates, including both in the physical sciences and in the creative arts, don't end up going on to a graduate job related to their degree at all. It is very common for graduates of e.g. physics, engineering, etc, to go into grad schemes in e.g. business, media, financial services, etc. There is generally not much correlation between what you study for in a degree and what you do as a career, except for those studying medicine/dentistry (and possibly vet med).

Even in ostensibly "vocational" degrees like engineering or law, there is no guarantee one will get a job in those areas after doing the corresponding degree, and there is no requirement that graduates in those fields even apply in those sectors at all. Most graduate roles will accept graduates from any traditionally academic degree, and many will accept graduates from any degree background. The important thing is leveraging the transferable skills you gain in the degree (e.g. communication skills, writing ability, quantitative/numerate skills, group working ability, presenting ability, etc) in your CV and job interviews to demonstrate these employable qualities you have.

I would note doing a physics degree to then go into engineering is generally a bad idea anyway. While it's possible, it's a much more awkward route to try and go and will likely require you do an additional masters (whether you do an MPhys or not) in engineering, and you may find the range of roles you could apply to more limited (likely more computational or development roles, which you seem disinterested in). If you wanted to qualify for CEng you would need to jump through quite a lot of administrative hoops you could just as well avoid by doing an engineering degree. Also, your notion of what engineering involves seems quite off-base; engineers normally work in offices. An engineer is not a field technician, and if you do go into the field it will probably be primarily to supervise the work of others or investigate a site or similar. You aren't going to be hammering and screwing things outside as an engineer - an engineer is not an electrician, nor a mechanic or plumber.

You should be aware that degree level physics is necessarily mathematical, and you will be using A-level (and beyond) Maths throughout the degree. If you wouldn't be happy to do the kinds of A-level calculus you are doing now, every single day of your degree, at minimum, I wouldn't recommend physics (or indeed, engineering, or economics, or most similarly numerate degrees). I highlight this because you've indicated that you aren't that invested in maths itself; while you have done quite well in maths so far (certainly more than well enough to go into physics) from the sounds of it, if you don't fundamentally enjoy mathematical problem solving you will probably not enjoy a numerate degree such as physics.

In terms of building a portfolio, if you did want to pursue an creative arts degree (and do an art foundation year first) I would probably suggest at the least that you drop one of your subjects. I would actually suggest you drop one of your subjects anyway, since only 3 A-levels are required to be admitted to any degree, and doing more A-levels doesn't gain you "bonus points" in admissions, except in the case of A-level Further Maths for appropriate numerate degrees (such as physics). Also in the specific case of A-level Japanese, no Japanese degree programmes I'm aware of require A-level Japanese to apply, and I think there are a few which can't actually accommodate those with prior background at A-level because their course is designed to be learned ab initio. I would probably suggest you learn Japanese as an extracurricular activity then, which gives you more flexibility in focusing on your other subjects (or a portfolio) without worrying about having to prepare for an extra set of exams for that subject.

However I do think you are correct in seeing that it would probably be unrealistic to develop a creative portfolio to apply to an art foundation programme, while also doing maths, a language, and two sciences. I would note A-level Art tends to be a very heavy workload subject due to the nature of the subject, requiring a very high ongoing commitment to the work similar to maths and language subjects - like those subjects, you can't "cram" for the exam at the end. Normally I would suggest taking a gap year, but that might mean an art foundation course would not be free for you anymore, so that may not be a feasible option.

PQ might be able to offer more advise on the art route, on art foundation courses, portfolios, and basically anything related to that arena. However I do think you need to spend some time reassessing your assumptions about degrees and careers, both in specific examples (e.g. engineering as noted above) and in general (i.e. regarding the connection between your degree subject and your eventual career - namely that there isn't any inherently).
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YatoSan
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(Original post by stressed0ut)
Having been to loads of physics open days at unis (I’ve applied for physics) everyone’s been saying a physics degree can get you into any career, so you don’t need to work within physics after you graduate. However, if you really want to do art then obviously you should go and do that. Drawing and painting to build a portfolio could be a brilliant stress relief from a levels. How are you finding maths in your physics lessons? Because apparently the maths in a physics degree is kinda hard, so if you’re hating it now.......

Also, is it worth considering doing the foundation year and then making the decision about art or physics? Because the UCAS deadline isn’t until January, so you could have a good chance to make your mind up (or you could take a year out after that and make a decision)
I’m not hating the maths in physics at all, actually. I seem to like it once I understand it, even if it takes a lot longer than others to learn how to do it. (Apparently I got the highest score in the class on my most recent test!) But I’m assuming it will get a lot harder. My brain just isn’t wired for ‘logical thinking’ unfortunately, which is making circuits and their calculations particularly difficult. Also, a more concerning issue is that I have very little confidence in practicals.

You mean I could do the art foundation year before deciding to go into physics or not? Hmm, that is possible, but I’ve heard that taking a gap year before a physics degree means potentially forgetting most of the A Level maths skills...
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Emiluu
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I am doing the same subjects as you, excluding Japanese. I initially thought about astrophysics but like you I realised I didn’t like the sound of the career options. Astronomy sounded a bit interesting but it would probably involve lots of maths, which although it may be the thing I’m best at, I dislike it. I was top in my school for all three of these subjects at the last set of exams but just because I’m good at them at and it seems I have a natural ability in them with little effort, doesn’t mean they are what interest me most (though some of it is quite interesting as you said about physics).I applied for psychology because it genuinely interested me. I have no idea if I will be naturally good at it but I think it would be less stressful because I would enjoy it more and I’d hate to do a career constantly wishing I’d gone down another route (psychology or neuroscience). I’d recommend you do art as it sounds like it would make you happiest.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by YatoSan)
I’m not hating the maths in physics at all, actually. I seem to like it once I understand it, even if it takes a lot longer than others to learn how to do it. (Apparently I got the highest score in the class on my most recent test!) But I’m assuming it will get a lot harder. My brain just isn’t wired for ‘logical thinking’ unfortunately, which is making circuits and their calculations particularly difficult. Also, a more concerning issue is that I have very little confidence in practicals.

You mean I could do the art foundation year before deciding to go into physics or not? Hmm, that is possible, but I’ve heard that taking a gap year before a physics degree means potentially forgetting most of the A Level maths skills...
Bear in mind A-level Physics is not very much like degree level physics. Notably, all of degree level physics is calculus based, whereas A-level Physics is all algebra based. Degree level physics is more similar to the mechanics content you do in A-level Maths, if anything.

If you were going to take a gap year before applying to physics I would probably suggest you try and take A-level FM in the gap year, since you'll cover most if not all of that content in a physics degree. Doing it in a gap year would give you a headstart once you started the degree, and you'd have more time to spend on it,and if you did it through your school, have more individual attention with it, than you would in a degree (where you'll cover the same content in a handful of 1 hour lectures and then largely on your own).
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YatoSan
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Many graduates, including both in the physical sciences and in the creative arts, don't end up going on to a graduate job related to their degree at all. It is very common for graduates of e.g. physics, engineering, etc, to go into grad schemes in e.g. business, media, financial services, etc. There is generally not much correlation between what you study for in a degree and what you do as a career, except for those studying medicine/dentistry (and possibly vet med).

Even in ostensibly "vocational" degrees like engineering or law, there is no guarantee one will get a job in those areas after doing the corresponding degree, and there is no requirement that graduates in those fields even apply in those sectors at all. Most graduate roles will accept graduates from any traditionally academic degree, and many will accept graduates from any degree background. The important thing is leveraging the transferable skills you gain in the degree (e.g. communication skills, writing ability, quantitative/numerate skills, group working ability, presenting ability, etc) in your CV and job interviews to demonstrate these employable qualities you have.

I would note doing a physics degree to then go into engineering is generally a bad idea anyway. While it's possible, it's a much more awkward route to try and go and will likely require you do an additional masters (whether you do an MPhys or not) in engineering, and you may find the range of roles you could apply to more limited (likely more computational or development roles, which you seem disinterested in). If you wanted to qualify for CEng you would need to jump through quite a lot of administrative hoops you could just as well avoid by doing an engineering degree. Also, your notion of what engineering involves seems quite off-base; engineers normally work in offices. An engineer is not a field technician, and if you do go into the field it will probably be primarily to supervise the work of others or investigate a site or similar. You aren't going to be hammering and screwing things outside as an engineer - an engineer is not an electrician, nor a mechanic or plumber.

You should be aware that degree level physics is necessarily mathematical, and you will be using A-level (and beyond) Maths throughout the degree. If you wouldn't be happy to do the kinds of A-level calculus you are doing now, every single day of your degree, at minimum, I wouldn't recommend physics (or indeed, engineering, or economics, or most similarly numerate degrees). I highlight this because you've indicated that you aren't that invested in maths itself; while you have done quite well in maths so far (certainly more than well enough to go into physics) from the sounds of it, if you don't fundamentally enjoy mathematical problem solving you will probably not enjoy a numerate degree such as physics.

In terms of building a portfolio, if you did want to pursue an creative arts degree (and do an art foundation year first) I would probably suggest at the least that you drop one of your subjects. I would actually suggest you drop one of your subjects anyway, since only 3 A-levels are required to be admitted to any degree, and doing more A-levels doesn't gain you "bonus points" in admissions, except in the case of A-level Further Maths for appropriate numerate degrees (such as physics). Also in the specific case of A-level Japanese, no Japanese degree programmes I'm aware of require A-level Japanese to apply, and I think there are a few which can't actually accommodate those with prior background at A-level because their course is designed to be learned ab initio. I would probably suggest you learn Japanese as an extracurricular activity then, which gives you more flexibility in focusing on your other subjects (or a portfolio) without worrying about having to prepare for an extra set of exams for that subject.

However I do think you are correct in seeing that it would probably be unrealistic to develop a creative portfolio to apply to an art foundation programme, while also doing maths, a language, and two sciences. I would note A-level Art tends to be a very heavy workload subject due to the nature of the subject, requiring a very high ongoing commitment to the work similar to maths and language subjects - like those subjects, you can't "cram" for the exam at the end. Normally I would suggest taking a gap year, but that might mean an art foundation course would not be free for you anymore, so that may not be a feasible option.

PQ might be able to offer more advise on the art route, on art foundation courses, portfolios, and basically anything related to that arena. However I do think you need to spend some time reassessing your assumptions about degrees and careers, both in specific examples (e.g. engineering as noted above) and in general (i.e. regarding the connection between your degree subject and your eventual career - namely that there isn't any inherently).
Surely an art degree is more limited in terms of options? However,
this probably wouldn’t be an issue if I was working towards an art career anyway.

I think I also need to consider how competitive each career is to get in to. Nowadays for physics it seems as if only the ‘natural’ people secure the best jobs. Maybe this is a false judgement but there would be no point in entering a physics degree to realise that career competition (for a field I may not even enjoy working in) is ridiculously high!

I do seem to find the maths interesting, especially once I actually understand it. But still, this is dwarfed in comparison to how much I enjoy the art I do as a hobby.
So university level physics is quite a massive step up? I did read somewhere that there is a lot more ‘physics’ in the A Level physics course than the actual maths applied to it.

So engineering careers do involve a lot of desk work... I wasn’t sure if this was only for some types of engineers or not. Well, in that case, the most interesting desk work I can think of would definitely be drawing. Hmm...

That is also true, I probably couldn’t switch to an art foundation diploma after a year of physics or a gap year because I’d have to pay for it.

So, I could just drop the full A Level Japanese and instead study it at my own pace whilst working on a portfolio? That doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all, actually.

Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed response
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YatoSan
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I am doing the same subjects as you, excluding Japanese. I initially thought about astrophysics but like you I realised I didn’t like the sound of the career options. Astronomy sounded a bit interesting but it would probably involve lots of maths, which although it may be the thing I’m best at, I dislike it. I was top in my school for all three of these subjects at the last set of exams but just because I’m good at them at and it seems I have a natural ability in them with little effort, doesn’t mean they are what interest me most (though some of it is quite interesting as you said about physics).I applied for psychology because it genuinely interested me. I have no idea if I will be naturally good at it but I think it would be less stressful because I would enjoy it more and I’d hate to do a career constantly wishing I’d gone down another route (psychology or neuroscience). I’d recommend you do art as it sounds like it would make you happiest.
Woah, you must have been so smart! That’s an interesting degree subject to choose, considering that you didn’t study it at A Level.

I just hope I don’t have the thought at the back of my mind ‘what if I’d have done physics?’ However it’s probably better for me to take the art route if I think the career opportunities are better for me.

Thank you for the encouragement, I’ll keep in mind that it is definitely possible to go and study a subject that you haven’t previously studied.
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Emiluu
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Woah, you must have been so smart! That’s an interesting degree subject to choose, considering that you didn’t study it at A Level.

I just hope I don’t have the thought at the back of my mind ‘what if I’d have done physics?’ However it’s probably better for me to take the art route if I think the career opportunities are better for me.

Thank you for the encouragement, I’ll keep in mind that it is definitely possible to go and study a subject that you haven’t previously studied.
I definitely worry I’ll regret not doing something like medicine or physics in the future. But I just need to remember it wouldn’t have made me as happy, and if I had done one of them I’d be wishing I’d done psychology.
It doesn’t matter if u haven’t studied the specific subject before as long as the entry requirements don’t specify it. This is because the course is designed so that u don’t need prior knowledge/experience from previous courses.
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YatoSan
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Bear in mind A-level Physics is not very much like degree level physics. Notably, all of degree level physics is calculus based, whereas A-level Physics is all algebra based. Degree level physics is more similar to the mechanics content you do in A-level Maths, if anything.

If you were going to take a gap year before applying to physics I would probably suggest you try and take A-level FM in the gap year, since you'll cover most if not all of that content in a physics degree. Doing it in a gap year would give you a headstart once you started the degree, and you'd have more time to spend on it,and if you did it through your school, have more individual attention with it, than you would in a degree (where you'll cover the same content in a handful of 1 hour lectures and then largely on your own).
Ah I see... I haven’t even done the mechanics side of maths yet, so I’d currently have no idea what that’s like.

Is it possible to do that? But then the problem is, if I decide it isn’t for me then I’d have a whole gap year of doing nothing instead of moving on to university!
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YatoSan
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I definitely worry I’ll regret not doing something like medicine or physics in the future. But I just need to remember it wouldn’t have made me as happy, and if I had done one of them I’d be wishing I’d done psychology.
It doesn’t matter if u haven’t studied the specific subject before as long as the entry requirements don’t specify it. This is because the course is designed so that u don’t need prior knowledge/experience from previous courses.
That’s so true, I suppose to some extent regrets are just inevitable when you’re interested in more than one subject!

But I’m guessing after a couple of years of doing a subject you love, the regrets will perhaps just fade away altogether.

Thank you so much for the inspiration!
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artful_lounger
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Ah I see... I haven’t even done the mechanics side of maths yet, so I’d currently have no idea what that’s like.

Is it possible to do that? But then the problem is, if I decide it isn’t for me then I’d have a whole gap year of doing nothing instead of moving on to university!
"Is it possible" in what sense? In the sense of, can people study that material all in one year (and do well), then yes, people can and do take FM in a single year as a gap year activity from time to time. Obviously as far as doing well goes, that depends somewhat on the amount of effort put in and your mathematical background to date (as having a strong foundation is essential in a subject like maths that builds directly on itself).

In the sense of, will your school allow you to take A-level FM in a single year with them, that's likely to vary a lot more. For some schools, it's not uncommon to have some students stay on for a "year 14", to take an additional A-level they now realise they need to apply to a given course at uni. For others that might not be possible. You can of course sit the A-level as an external candidate (at your school or otherwise), and either self study or arrange e.g. tutoring or a distance learning course to learn the material. This may be more expensive depending on the exact route you go.

Either way you would need to explore your options a bit, and the best place to start would be speaking with your teachers and the school admin staff. Some relevant starting questions would be, do your teachers think you could cope with doing the full A-level FM (or even just the AS level) in a single year, and will the administration allow you to stay on for teaching in that subject (and if so, are there any exam entry fees you will need to pay, and how much are they).

As far as changing your mind and not having anything to do in the gap year, you could always look for a job locally and work for the year. This would not be a terrible experience, in my opinion, as you would develop some sense of independence and self-sufficiency (which you will develop in uni otherwise, but having more of a sense of that to start can help ameliorate some of the culture shock of moving out into uni in first year), and universities won't view you negatively for taking a year out to work and save some money.

If you spend the year sitting on your couch playing video games (as evidenced by not having anything of note to say about your gap year) or just "travelling" and sitting on a beach somewhere, some universities may view this less favourably (although I think these would be in the minority). You have raised a relevant point earlier about your maths skills going "rusty"; some universities prefer applicants to maths (and perhaps for a few, related numerate subjects such as physics or engineering) to not take a gap year, or to only take one if they are doing something engaging their maths skills so they haven't gone rusty. You can email admissions departments to enquire if they have any reservations about applicants taking a gap year to such courses and they will be able to advise you. In practice, as with "not doing anything" in a gap year, I think this is only really going to potentially be an issue for a handful of universities.
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YatoSan
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
"Is it possible" in what sense? In the sense of, can people study that material all in one year (and do well), then yes, people can and do take FM in a single year as a gap year activity from time to time. Obviously as far as doing well goes, that depends somewhat on the amount of effort put in and your mathematical background to date (as having a strong foundation is essential in a subject like maths that builds directly on itself).

In the sense of, will your school allow you to take A-level FM in a single year with them, that's likely to vary a lot more. For some schools, it's not uncommon to have some students stay on for a "year 14", to take an additional A-level they now realise they need to apply to a given course at uni. For others that might not be possible. You can of course sit the A-level as an external candidate (at your school or otherwise), and either self study or arrange e.g. tutoring or a distance learning course to learn the material. This may be more expensive depending on the exact route you go.

Either way you would need to explore your options a bit, and the best place to start would be speaking with your teachers and the school admin staff. Some relevant starting questions would be, do your teachers think you could cope with doing the full A-level FM (or even just the AS level) in a single year, and will the administration allow you to stay on for teaching in that subject (and if so, are there any exam entry fees you will need to pay, and how much are they).

As far as changing your mind and not having anything to do in the gap year, you could always look for a job locally and work for the year. This would not be a terrible experience, in my opinion, as you would develop some sense of independence and self-sufficiency (which you will develop in uni otherwise, but having more of a sense of that to start can help ameliorate some of the culture shock of moving out into uni in first year), and universities won't view you negatively for taking a year out to work and save some money.

If you spend the year sitting on your couch playing video games (as evidenced by not having anything of note to say about your gap year) or just "travelling" and sitting on a beach somewhere, some universities may view this less favourably (although I think these would be in the minority). You have raised a relevant point earlier about your maths skills going "rusty"; some universities prefer applicants to maths (and perhaps for a few, related numerate subjects such as physics or engineering) to not take a gap year, or to only take one if they are doing something engaging their maths skills so they haven't gone rusty. You can email admissions departments to enquire if they have any reservations about applicants taking a gap year to such courses and they will be able to advise you. In practice, as with "not doing anything" in a gap year, I think this is only really going to potentially be an issue for a handful of universities.
Well actually, I’ve only heard of Oxbridge having a problem with gap years so far haha. (I wouldn’t even think of going to a prestigious university anyway!) It might also be a good way to find relevant work experience...

This does sound like an interesting idea though, thank you for the suggestion. I think I’ll have to see how the next year goes and if I’m doing relatively well in maths and physics, then perhaps it’ll be worth considering.
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by YatoSan)
Well actually, I’ve only heard of Oxbridge having a problem with gap years so far haha. (I wouldn’t even think of going to a prestigious university anyway!) It might also be a good way to find relevant work experience...

This does sound like an interesting idea though, thank you for the suggestion. I think I’ll have to see how the next year goes and if I’m doing relatively well in maths and physics, then perhaps it’ll be worth considering.
Yes, from what I'm aware of it does seem to be mainly Oxbridge (or their ilk) that have any particular issues with gap years for those applying to mathematical degrees (and perhaps otherwise). Incidentally I realise a lot of commentary has been on the physics side of things, so I hope that doesn't come across as an intentional effort to influence you away from the art side; I'm just more familiar with the physics/engineering type side of things.

Bear in mind for art foundation courses, you do not apply through UCAS (to my knowledge), and apply directly to the course providers (as they are FE courses, not HE courses) - so you can apply to both options next year, potentially, and then defer a decision till slightly later in year 13. You could also always do an art foundation year, and if you decided it wasn't for you, apply to physics during that course, or take a gap year after doing the art foundation and apply (potentially while doing FM as noted).

No matter what, if you are going to do an art foundation course I would recommend you plan to do it the year after your A-levels, as it should still be free (in terms of tuition fees - bear in mind there are no maintenance loans for FE courses such as FAD courses). If you subsequently wanted to do it, you may need to pay for tuition fees, or see if you are eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan for the course (similar to SFE tuition loans in some respects, although not all course providers are eligible for it).

Perhaps for now focus on your school work, and over the summer try and start laying the groundwork for a potential portfolio.That will also give you plenty of time to look into your options, get a feel for how your current studies are going, and learn more about what is required for portfolio work.
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YatoSan
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
Yes, from what I'm aware of it does seem to be mainly Oxbridge (or their ilk) that have any particular issues with gap years for those applying to mathematical degrees (and perhaps otherwise). Incidentally I realise a lot of commentary has been on the physics side of things, so I hope that doesn't come across as an intentional effort to influence you away from the art side; I'm just more familiar with the physics/engineering type side of things.

Bear in mind for art foundation courses, you do not apply through UCAS (to my knowledge), and apply directly to the course providers (as they are FE courses, not HE courses) - so you can apply to both options next year, potentially, and then defer a decision till slightly later in year 13. You could also always do an art foundation year, and if you decided it wasn't for you, apply to physics during that course, or take a gap year after doing the art foundation and apply (potentially while doing FM as noted).

No matter what, if you are going to do an art foundation course I would recommend you plan to do it the year after your A-levels, as it should still be free (in terms of tuition fees - bear in mind there are no maintenance loans for FE courses such as FAD courses). If you subsequently wanted to do it, you may need to pay for tuition fees, or see if you are eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan for the course (similar to SFE tuition loans in some respects, although not all course providers are eligible for it).

Perhaps for now focus on your school work, and over the summer try and start laying the groundwork for a potential portfolio.That will also give you plenty of time to look into your options, get a feel for how your current studies are going, and learn more about what is required for portfolio work.
Oh, I’d always assumed that I would have had to apply for a foundation course through UCAS as usual. At least that means I could individually apply for those courses whilst still keeping the options open for physics.

I have already started a portfolio (by that I mean I’m only halfway through a painting,) and I’ll probably continue to work on it in small chunks every evening or so.

This seems like a decent framework for my future decisions; it’s probably okay to leave things undecided for now. In the meantime I’ll just have to try to keep up with everything and make a decision sometime next year.

Thank you so much for all the advice. You've been extremely helpful
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Mr Wednesday
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(Original post by YatoSan)
I'll try to keep this as 'brief' as possible

I'm in year 12, currently studying A Levels in physics, maths, chemistry and Japanese (self-studying.)

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love physics and I'm fascinated by pretty much everything I read about the subject. I'm enjoying the A Level course a lot so far... however, I've noticed two things recently:

1. Lately I've been spending a good portion of my day thinking about how much I want to draw/ paint.

2. Coming to the realisation that there probably aren't any physics careers I'd enjoy if I managed to get a degree in physics. I know it's probably quite dumb for me to be ruling out things based on the information I've read on the internet (trust me, I've done a lot of research!) but based on the stuff I've read, here are the things I've semi- 'ruled out' so far:
Lots of interesting ideas above. There are also courses like design engineering that do a blend of fairly hard core maths / materials science / mech eng with a more creative aspect. Take a look at the following for some examples.

http://www.imperial.ac.uk/design-engineering/

https://www.bath.ac.uk/courses/under...n-engineering/

The Imperial / Dyson one is linked to MScs done jointly with the Royal College of Art. One of their staff told me that applicants with A levels in Maths + Physics + Art would be a good fit to the course. Being Imperial its quite hard core, but there are other courses that are less engineering / more art and design out there as well.
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YatoSan
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(Original post by Mr Wednesday)
Lots of interesting ideas above. There are also courses like design engineering that do a blend of fairly hard core maths / materials science / mech eng with a more creative aspect. Take a look at the following for some examples.

http://www.imperial.ac.uk/design-engineering/

https://www.bath.ac.uk/courses/under...n-engineering/

The Imperial / Dyson one is linked to MScs done jointly with the Royal College of Art. One of their staff told me that applicants with A levels in Maths + Physics + Art would be a good fit to the course. Being Imperial its quite hard core, but there are other courses that are less engineering / more art and design out there as well.
Wow, those seem to be quite unique courses!

This is interesting, I think I’ll do some more research on design engineering since I don’t think I’ve ever heard much about it before. Thank you!
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Mr Wednesday
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(Original post by YatoSan)
Wow, those seem to be quite unique courses!

This is interesting, I think I’ll do some more research on design engineering since I don’t think I’ve ever heard much about it before. Thank you!
Pleasure, I hope you find something that really inspires you ! Thats the best way to succeed at University, do a thing your love.
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