choices choices choices



Here is a question from reluctant philanthropist Jess:

For about six months, I have been volunteering in a charity shop on Saturday afternoons; however, now I am thinking about quitting in the near future. This is mainly due to it taking up my time, which could be better spent doing school work, which I am starting to be overloaded with, having just started my A levels, and doing three subjects which revolve around essays, and one foreign language.

Because it is on a Saturday, it also eats up the time that I could be spending meeting up with friends. Not to mention, the work is incredibly mundane and monotonous, and I really don’t enjoy it. The situation is complicated because I know the assistant manager well, and see her at least once a week, so it’s not like I can just stop turning up and pretend the shop doesn’t exist. What would be the best and politest way to quit without antagonising anyone?!

Erm, the truth? At least the bit of truth that isn’t about the work being boring. Tell the manager that unfortunately you don’t have time because you need to study for your A levels. Why would anyone bother arguing with that?

Since we’re on the subject of A-Levels, here’s a question from Johnny from Brighton:

My friend wants to be a doctor, but thanks to some dodgy lecture at our school about ‘what employers REALLY want’ he thinks that he should do RE as well as his medical stuff to add some ‘range’.

Now, normally I would only feel kind of wonky about this but he’s only doing it because he believes it will be easy. Surely at A-Level you should do what you want to be able to do for the rest of your life? Unless he’s got some hidden urge to become a pastor he hasn’t told me about, I feel he’s making a huge mistake!

Answer me this, should I try and get him to change his mind or should I just not stick my nose where it doesn’t belong?

Well, Johnny, you do seem unusually concerned about your friend’s subject choices. The real question, I think, is why do you instinctively wish to control him? If you can’t face examining yourself, suggest he take Psychology A level instead, so eventually he may be able to explain your negative urges to you.

Anyway, have you discounted the notion that perhaps he is actually interested in theology? And given that wannabe medics have to do several hard-to-bluff subjects such as advanced maths and sciences, sitting an exam that is slightly less demanding is quite a pragmatic decision. Maybe the RE would even be a complementary choice, as he would be able to perform the last rites over his patients if he turns out not to be a very good doctor.

His other option is to ‘add range’ by enjoying a variety of extra-curricular activities (such as working in a charity shop like Jess!). However, I can’t speak for employers of medics, but I don’t how important ‘range’ is to them rather than ‘excellence at medicine’. By the time he has completed his seven years of medical training, I doubt they will be particularly interested in what he did at school. If he doesn’t appear to be a well-rounded individual by then, they won’t be convinced that he is one because he did Duke of Edinburgh, swimming and tap dance when he was sixteen.

Lastly, I must dispute your assertion that your A level choices will necessarily have anything to do with the rest of your life. I had to decide mine when I was fourteen! It is a mercy that none of the decisions I made then proved binding at all.

That said, had there been A levels in podcasting or self-employment, I certainly would have been tempted. Frankly, Russian hasn’t come in particularly handy. YET.


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One Response to “choices choices choices”

  1. Ash Says:

    Jess, PLEASE don’t just stop showing up; it’s extremely rude and would cause a great deal of trouble for the shop. Just politely say that you’re sorry but need to free up that time for study and other things and that you’ve enjoyed the experience and hope they find more help. That way they’re grateful for the time you have given and won’t think you’re a twerp for just disappearing and leaving them in the lurch. It’s a volunteer basis and you’ve given them a lot of time; good for you! You didn’t have to do that and it’s great that you did, but now you need to stop, and that’s fair enough. Anyone’s who’s resentful about that is being petty.

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