Throughout my first Tutorfair volunteering event a single word kept coming to my mind – pluripotent. This term, which describes the capacity of stem cells to become almost any cells of almost any tissue or organ in the body, is the only word I could find to encapsulate the shear amount of potential present in a room filled with SEO scholars who are trying to decide which route to take for the next stage of their studies and how prepare themselves for a university education which could equip them for so many possible careers.
Around 60 students (who will be going into Year 12 in September) attended the event during the summer holidays which was designed to help students prepare for University admissions by providing information about university league tables and UCAS points, together with advising on personal statements and discussing the transferable skills someone can gain from studying at the university level. We also talked about the numerous different routes a person could take to end up in a specific career (e.g. some of the different subjects studied by people who are currently members of parliament) and how common it is for someone to switch careers several times over their working life. One exercise that I found particularly interesting was trying to imagine what jobs children currently in primary school might be doing when they become adults – might some of these jobs be in fields that we have barely discovered yet? And what skills and subjects will become vital in the future? Might computer programming be an essential skill as technology becomes a bigger part of everyday life or will artistic and creative subjects become more valuable as automation becomes able to take over from humans in roles where logic and calculation are required?
The event did make me more aware of the increased obstacles current school students face, including the increased tuition fees and ever more competitive job market that awaits them after graduation. It also made me remember how difficult it can be to accurately predict exactly which subjects will be most useful to a specific degree course and a given career – I studied physics at university but I found the topics covered in further pure maths an absolutely invaluable addition to physics and now will be teaching a course to help students with these topics so they can excel on a physical science or engineering degree. However, it did also leave me incredibly heartened to spend time with people who are only beginning an immensely rewarding and enjoyable phase of their lives and who really do have the potential to achieve and become so much.
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