I PROMISE THIS IS NOT AN ANTI-‘A’LEVEL RANT.

I have recently discovered that a friend who I wouldn’t of even really considered a friend (because of the very little significance/association we had in each others lives) is actually a very good friend indeed. We (me and Hector) have recently had a 2 hour heart to heart about… happiness. I think both of us, by speaking to each other have gained more confidence, ideas and wider perspectives. So this post is really inspired by Hector and the extra confidence he has given me. I’d like to thank to power of conversation, individual minds, personal connections and INTERNET CONNECTIONS. All of these sources provide incredible inspiration. Major thanks to the internet for allowing me and somebody, who would probably of never found out the similarities between ourselves, to be connected. That’s what I love about the internet. Despite the taboo, regardless of confidence issues, undeterred by distance, stumped from initial judgements – you are united with so many people.

Anyway, what I mean by we were talking “about happiness” is that we were having a bloody good ramble about the hundreds of opportunities that occur in each individual person’s life.  It’s coming up to GCSE exam season and I’m guessing by annual routine, that the majority of you feel almost compelled to progress on to ‘A’ levels. And for the good majority of students already doing ‘A’ levels, I’m guessing you’re all feeling sick with worry about these exams because the results predict your future. Because of course, these exams are the only path to real success! – WRONG.

If you A) have a specific career in mind that you want to reach fast. B) are finding ‘A’ levels mentally stimulating and fun. C) are enjoying ‘A’ levels and finding them easy. This isn’t aimed at you. This post is aimed at those who are really feeling bound by general popular expectations and ideas about how to achieve success. Those who are really struggling with the academic world of regurgitating other peoples ideas.  It seems that the roads to great success have been narrowed down to one single, robotic, demoralising process. (OK I’m maybe a little anti ‘A’ level). BUT, if ‘A’ levels are making you unhappy, don’t do them. < If this sounds like an incomprehensible option to you, then your priorities are wrong. Happiness holds the greatest value so chase after it no matter what. Not doing ‘A’ levels or choosing to drop out of completing them is not as rampant as you may think.

“We must learn how to handle words effectively; but at the same time we must preserve and, if necessary, intensify our ability to look at the world directly and not through that half opaque medium of concepts, which distorts every given fact into the all too familiar likeness of some generic label or explanatory abstraction.”― Aldous Huxley

There’s a huge amount of stigma around alternatives to ‘A’ levels such as btec, nvq, apprenticeships or even going straight into employment. These opportunities are hugely looked down on by so many people for some reason, and the idea that they are anything less than ‘A’ levels is therefore spreading. I think for a happier generation, we have to accept that ‘A’ Levels are really not for everybody and even more important, that people who chose not to do them are not any less intelligent than those that do. Also let me just tell you that despite your friends building up the pressure by saying if you want a good job, you need ‘A’ levels or the prevailing perception that not going to university labels you a ‘failure’ > ICM employers research show that employers think that qualified apprentices are 15% more employable than those with other qualifications. Also, A cost-benefit analysis of apprenticeships and other vocational qualifications by the University of Sheffield found that those with an apprenticeship over their career, on average earn £100,000 more than those without. So if you consider a lot of money as ‘success’, then I recommend an apprenticeship. More info here > http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk

This snobbery attitude around this issue is pretty scary and too many teenagers are falling into it. It’s holding people back from doing what they want to and doing what they are truly passionate about. Thus, trapping so many into uninspiring, mechanical institutions that have no value to them personally. I’m not going to rant on about the many faults of the GCSE and ‘A’ level system because I promised not to. However, let me just say that vocational courses are much more skill building, valuable for everyday life, require more passion, They also allow you to develop into something great whilst being yourself, doing something you enjoy. Same applies to heading straight into employment. Experience is what employers look for mainly, and you can work your way up from the bottom.

Nevertheless, success is too often linked with money. All we want from life is happiness, this isn’t an assumption, it’s fact. In conclusion, do whatever makes you happy. It sounds so simple and cliché but so many people don’t do it. They do what they think makes them happy, or what other people want them to do, or what they think they have to do. When really, we are so free to chose what we want to do and we should all chase our dreams this instant instead of feeling forced to be somewhere you don’t like. Make the decision to stop doing whatever makes you unhappy right now, and change your path because let’s state the obvious, you’ll be happier. I have taken the decision and I’m already feeling much more hopeful and excited for the future and a lot of pressure has been lifted off of me. I’m looking forward to getting involved with something I know I’m good at, and feel good about what I’m doing.

“In a world where education is predominantly verbal, highly educated people find it all but impossible to pay serious attention to anything but words and notions. There is always money for, there are always doctrines in, the learned foolery of research into what, for scholars, is the all-important problem: Who influenced whom to say what when? Even in this age of technology the verbal humanities are honoured. The non-verbal humanities, the arts of being directly aware of the given facts of our existence, are almost completely ignored. Literary or scientific, liberal or specialist, all our education is predominantly verbal and therefore fails to accomplish what it is supposed to do. Instead of transforming children into fully developed adults, it turns out students of the natural sciences who are completely unaware of Nature as the primary fact of experience, it inflicts upon the world students of the humanities who know nothing of humanity, their own or anyone else’s.”― Aldous Huxley

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