Does this A level combination make sense?

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ron0studios
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#21
Report Thread starter 1 week ago
#21
(Original post by gapb)
I'd say I'm in a similar boat to you, I'm stick in the midst of picking my alevel options out of: maths, further maths, computing, economics and physics. I'm currently doing fsmq as well.
Career wise, I'd like to go into programming, artificial intelligence or maybe cybersecurity.
I guess the best way to choose alevels is based on what alevels you need for whatever degree you want to do. Consider like 3 courses you would like to do and see what they would require.

After reading through this thread, I've got a question, based on what I want to do as a career, is a computing degree really the best idea? Or would it be better to go into another degree but still end up working in computing.
The current courses I'm interested in at uni, is Computing with AI/ Machine Learning at Imperial, or Computer Science Degree at Warick.
Hello! Wow, I guess I'm very lucky to meet someone who's had similar experiences as me
A CS degree at several unis, as far as I'm aware allow you to specialise in a certain field in your 3-4th year. E.g. in cambridge you get to specialise in AI for example in your 3rd year and research in your 4th. If you really enjoy the subject, maybe you might want to consider the experience studying at a high-tier uni with your favorite subject? In terms of jobs, as far as I'm aware, many companies like google have begun to hire more people who haven't gone to prestigious universities to get degrees, or even to a uni at all. You could always try an internship at one of these big ones and see how it goes from there, bear in mind that they are very difficult to get into, especially in the UK. The UK has a pretty strong DeepMind chain though, so you can start AI there, i think.
Let's see how things go
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gcseeeman
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#22
Report 1 week ago
#22
(Original post by ron0studios)
Coding is practically my main hobby and all I do in my spare time XD!
Yikes. I would suggest you try and broaden your horizons a little. Both for your own well-being, and because getting a job at FAANG is about more than technical ability.

But, what kind of coding? If you want to get into Google, the most valuable thing you could do at your age is start dipping your toe into the competitive programming arena. In particular, if you like mathematics, working through some of the earlier Project Euler problems could be fun and useful. At some point, which you have some background in data structures and algorithms, you would want to migrate to things like Codeforces and if maybe even look to compete in ICPC at univesity. (I didn't take CS at GCSE, A-level or even university, so I have no idea how much you'll already know about algorithms.) I imagine this would help you with university entrance interview problems, too, but I don't actually know what is asked.

I wouldn't pay much attention to artful_lounger. He seems to be a resident grouch (and most of his post complains you need maths and further maths... which you will have.) Google salaries are certainly not going down, and it's far from the highest paying company in this area. The market isn't "saturated"; the problem is most CS grads can't program their way out of a wet paper bag. If you can code and solve problems, you can have a CS, a maths, a physics or whatever you want degree and get a good job.

About your question: I took 5 A-levels, along with preparing for STEP (which I spent most of my time on, so I'd say it's at least as much additional work as your EPQ). I regret it. I have forgotten almost everything outside of mathematics (which I studied at university). Google will not care how many A-levels you take. I would advise maths, further maths, and two of {computer science, economics, physics}. I don't know much about EPQs. If "AS" levels are still a thing (I don't know what the end result of Gove's antics was), you could probably do them all but make sure you drop one before year 13. You can learn about (e.g.) economics any time you want. You can't get time back that you could have used to do better in the other A-levels.

Have fun, and don't worry too much about your career while you're young. Just do well in whatever A-levels you take, get into a good uni in a relevant subject, and be able to solve "LeetCode-style" problems. Oh, and try and get some internships during university, as it will make life easier.
Last edited by gcseeeman; 1 week ago
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ron0studios
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#23
Report Thread starter 1 week ago
#23
(Original post by gcseeeman)
Yikes. I would suggest you try and broaden your horizons a little. Both for your own well-being, and because getting a job at FAANG is about more than technical ability.

But, what kind of coding? If you want to get into Google, the most valuable thing you could do at your age is start dipping your toe into the competitive programming arena. In particular, if you like mathematics, working through some of the earlier Project Euler problems could be fun and useful. At some point, which you have some background in data structures and algorithms, you would want to migrate to things like Codeforces and if maybe even look to compete in ICPC at univesity. (I didn't take CS at GCSE, A-level or even university, so I have no idea how much you'll already know about algorithms.) I imagine this would help you with university entrance interview problems, too, but I don't actually know what is asked.

I wouldn't pay much attention to artful_lounger. He seems to be a resident grouch (and most of his post complains you need maths and further maths... which you will have.) Google salaries are certainly not going down, and it's far from the highest paying company in this area. The market isn't "saturated"; the problem is most CS grads can't program their way out of a wet paper bag. If you can code and solve problems, you can have a CS, a maths, a physics or whatever you want degree and get a good job.

About your question: I took 5 A-levels, along with preparing for STEP (which I spent most of my time on, so I'd say it's at least as much additional work as your EPQ). I regret it. I have forgotten almost everything outside of mathematics (which I studied at university). Google will not care how many A-levels you take. I would advise maths, further maths, and two of {computer science, economics, physics}. I don't know much about EPQs. If "AS" levels are still a thing (I don't know what the end result of Gove's antics was), you could probably do them all but make sure you drop one before year 13. You can learn about (e.g.) economics any time you want. You can't get time back that you could have used to do better in the other A-levels.

Have fun, and don't worry too much about your career while you're young. Just do well in whatever A-levels you take, get into a good uni in a relevant subject, and be able to solve "LeetCode-style" problems. Oh, and try and get some internships during university, as it will make life easier.
Thank you so much for these encouraging words!
In terms of coding, I mainly focus on competitive programming . You see, my first language was c++ (after scratch lol), so after spending a year or two diving headfirst into topics way out of my league (opengl graphics rendering), I decided to step back a little and do some web/game development for a year and a bit until discovering the british informatics olympiad, which I have been preparing for yearly. In fact, this year's one is starting very soon as well . In terms of internships, will it be difficult to get one at a decent company especially here in the UK? A plan (more like a dream), for me is to try settling in at MIT or caltech to help develop my career in the future, but that's a whole other topic .
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gcseeeman
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#24
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#24
(Original post by ron0studios)
Thank you so much for these encouraging words!
In terms of coding, I mainly focus on competitive programming . You see, my first language was c++ (after scratch lol), so after spending a year or two diving headfirst into topics way out of my league (opengl graphics rendering), I decided to step back a little and do some web/game development for a year and a bit until discovering the british informatics olympiad, which I have been preparing for yearly. In fact, this year's one is starting very soon as well . In terms of internships, will it be difficult to get one at a decent company especially here in the UK? A plan (more like a dream), for me is to try settling in at MIT or caltech to help develop my career in the future, but that's a whole other topic .
Sounds good. I wish I knew about the BIO back in school

I can't say how hard it is to get such an internship. I can tell you that somebody performing well in the BIO who has reasonable social skills has a good chance of passing internship interviews (you'd obviously want to do some more specialised interview practice nearer the time). As for getting the interview, 🤷 Things like BIO (or competitive programming more generally), university performance, "projects" (maybe) all probably help, but there is luck involved. (If you get into such a company, moving to the USA with them after a year or so would be quite straightforward, unless COVID changes the status quo.)
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super_hannah
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#25
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#25
In my opinion and experience of A levels, 4 A levels plus an EPQ and FSMQ is extremely intensive. A levels are stressful enough as it is- it is a huge step up from GCSE. I would just focus on 3 A levels and do the EPQ if you want to. Universities look for quality not quantity. You seem quite proactive and keeping your career in mind so if you're looking to boost future university applications and your CV, get some work experience! In terms of university selection, this can be valuable as experience in your chosen area of study will set you apart from other applicants with similar grades.
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ron0studios
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#26
Report Thread starter 3 days ago
#26
(Original post by super_hannah)
In my opinion and experience of A levels, 4 A levels plus an EPQ and FSMQ is extremely intensive. A levels are stressful enough as it is- it is a huge step up from GCSE. I would just focus on 3 A levels and do the EPQ if you want to. Universities look for quality not quantity. You seem quite proactive and keeping your career in mind so if you're looking to boost future university applications and your CV, get some work experience! In terms of university selection, this can be valuable as experience in your chosen area of study will set you apart from other applicants with similar grades.
unfortunately, we have to do 4 a levels as a minimum at our school .

I think I should close off this thread by saying that I have made a decision to drop out on the XFM course to do maths, further maths, computer science and economics (+ EPQ). I feel like this will let me have enough free time to get more involved in my school, by doing extra curricular activities, programming related contests online and at school (such as the British Informatics Olympiad). Correct me if I'm wrong here, but potential success in a high level competition like the BIO and using spare time to build up a stronger CV/UCAS should be far more important than the extra A-level.

If anyone would like to make any additional notes, comments, or questions, please be free to do so!
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