Seek Opportunities, Whatever Your Background

Learning isn’t always made easy. No matter how well intentioned policy is, blocks and barriers exist.

If the money and/or availability is there, you are far better placed to let the awesome come to you.

If the money and/or availability is not, you have to put in more effort to access what you need.

The ‘postcode lottery’ of access to career guidance is one aspect of many which presents problems. A recent Sutton Trust report, Advancing Ambitions, states that recent changes in availability of career guidance for young people have generally been negative.

The one piece of advice I would give to anyone who does not have automatic access to guidance, learning resources, or anything to further yourself, is this:

Actively seek out opportunities and pursue them all you can.

High achieving young people in disadvantaged areas have been seen to excel at university beyond the scope of privately educated pupils and those in more advantaged postcode areas. Perhaps a determination and interest has driven them and isn’t showing signs of stopping now. For privately schooled individuals, they may have developed a number of techniques and even some drive themselves. However, a number of these people may be used to having opportunities come to them. They may not have needed to chase after so many opportunities off their own backs.

A-level reforms are another example. Sixth Form students will face changes in coming years that they won’t necessarily understand until it’s too late. And if grading patterns change, how will employers have a clear view of the potential differences between one set of students who average a B over another set of students on an updated course who average a C? Ability and work may not have changed, but an apparent improvement in grading clarity could muddy the waters in different ways.

Private school pupils often benefit from accurate and in-depth guidance. These briefings will allow appropriate choices to be made based on what pupils want to do and where they wish to go after their schooling. Rather than have a mysterious cache of consistently successful teaching, the advice on offer is what can make all the difference. Pupils possess access to numerous resources, specialist training, contacts, and bespoke guidance. This will help push pupils toward whatever path they and/or their parents desire.

In the A-level reforms, who will benefit and who will lose out? I imagine many private pupils will manage to find a way through no matter how the situation plays out. And comprehensive pupils? Who knows? That, indeed, is the problem.

I’m simplifying a bit here. Privilege doesn’t always work in this way. My point is that we would all benefit from an abundance of opportunity and guidance.

But when you don’t have that available to you, one answer is to make your own moves. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve been lucky enough to have all sorts of opportunities in the past. Perhaps nothing has spoken to you.

Whatever the case, whatever your situation, I would still give that same advice, across the board:

Actively seek out opportunities and pursue them all you can.

All of us have to put in legwork at some point in our lives. Grit and determination can provide a backdrop for a great extent of one person and only be a side issue for another, but none of us bypass it completely.

Discussions do need to continue around politics, inequality, location, and the many circumstances that effect one person’s chances in education and career over another. However, where there is even the smallest area of opportunity available, it’s important to pounce on it.

There’s far more to it than striding up and grabbing what you want, but the idea itself is important to stay focused on.

Make Your Own Moves

Martin

Martin

I am a writer, who also runs TheUniversityBlog. If that site isn't enough of a clue, I have a love of all things Higher Education. I'm also interested in learning about learning about learning about learning...let's get meta!

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