Alternatives to Baccalaureate or Maturità

Your child experiencing difficulties at school? A high school diploma seems inaccessible and creates tensions at home? Yet your child is lively and witty, and you're convinced that he or she will flourish beyond the school benches?

There are many high school qualifications, apart from the usual Baccalaureate or Maturità, that can open the door to higher education.

Every child has different talents and interests. Some may find greater success and satisfaction in subjects other than those covered by the diplomas mentioned above. The important is to find a path that matches your child’s strengths and aspirations. Although qualifications can play a vital role in accessing higher education and employment, many people have managed to achieve a high level of success based on their life skills, experience and passion.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the degree alternatives that exist, for all those students who are given disastrous grades in their current school curriculum, when they could simply shine otherwise.

British high school qualification: A-levels

A-levels, also known as Advanced Levels, are advanced level examinations offered in the UK and some other Anglo-Saxon countries. A-levels are considered to be a good academic qualification and are generally required for entry to some UK universities (without additional qualifications).

A-Levels are taken in the final two years of a student’s studies and focus on just three subjects. The choice of subjects is therefore determined by the selected Bachelor’s degree. A-Levels are therefore suitable for students who have a clear idea of the higher education studies they wish to undertake.

It is also important to bear in mind that A-Levels are taken after important assessments in the British school curriculum, called GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary School), which confirm general knowledge subjects. For this reason, the final two years can be focused on specific subjects only.

Most good UK universities will ask students for a combination of GCSEs and A-Levels results. However, there are some universities that will only require A-Levels. They are therefore a good alternative for the ’specialist‘ student, for whom it will be advantageous to take only three subjects.

The internationally recognised exam: the International Baccalaureate

The International Baccalaureate, or IB, is an international programme with an ambitious mission: „to develop in young people the intellectual curiosity, knowledge and sensitivity needed to help build a better and more peaceful world, in a spirit of mutual understanding and intercultural respect“.

The IB is the exam that gives the most scope to students wishing to go on to higher education abroad, as it is widely recognised on the market. It also has the advantage of having six subjects only, giving students the opportunity to chart their own learning path and develop the skills and confidence they need to flourish and make a difference in the long term.

Lazy students beware here! Of the six subjects required at the IB, three must be „higher“ subjects, which are of a very demanding level.

The American High School Diploma

The High School Diploma is awarded to American students at the end of their secondary education. It represents the completion of compulsory education and attests the student’s level of schooling.

The advantage of the High School Diploma is that there are no exams to sit, and it can be adapted to students wishing to pursue their education in the USA or Canada. This high school certificate is often accompanied by the famous SATs for admission to American universities.

accompanied by the famous SATs for admission to American universities. Careful here too, as the HSD is awarded after twelve years of study, as opposed to thirteen years in European countries. Therefore, it doesn’t have the same value. To be accepted by European universities, the HSD must be accompanied by four to five AP’s (additional examinations).

If your child does not intend to go on to higher education, the High School Diploma may also be a more appropriate option, enabling him or her to obtain a diploma attesting to obligatory schooling.

The Foundation

A foundation year is a preparatory year of study (year 0), enabling students to acquire a basic understanding of their chosen field. It is also a way of exploring several subjects when you are still hesitating between two paths. In addition to the academic courses, students benefit from English classes and study skills. For students interested in artistic paths, the Foundation Year is often an essential part of developing the portfolio required for admission to a Bachelor’s degree.

The Foundation Year is an Anglo-Saxon „practice“, still quite unknown in European countries. However, it has many advantages, for different student profiles:

  • The student who feels the need to become familiar with the course of study of his chosen subjects before embarking on a Bachelor’s degree.
  • The student who wants to study in England but does not yet have the level of English to cope with university level courses.
  • The student who finished school at a very early age and who needs to gain in maturity prior to going on to Higher Education.
  • The student without a school qualification but who still would like to access university studies. Some Foundation Years allow students to access a few universities in England. A prodigious way of not closing the doors of Higher Education.

Other alternatives

There are many opportunities to train and acquire specialist skills outside the traditional school setting. Professional training, qualifications and on-the-job trainings can offer spectacular learning and career development opportunities. Here are a few examples:

  1. Brevet de technicien supérieur (BTS): this is a French diploma that enables students to acquire specific professional skills in various fields.
  2. Work-linked training: students can follow a work-linked training programme that combines cycles in companies with theoretical courses. This enables them to develop professional skills while obtaining a diploma.
  3. Technical or vocational diplomas: students can opt for technical or vocational courses that offer specialist skills in areas such as computing, engineering, culinary arts, design, etc. These diplomas can be obtained from specialised schools or vocational training centres.
  4. Private universities or specialised schools: in some countries, it is possible to enter private universities or specialised schools without necessarily taking the Maturità or Baccalaureate. These institutions have their own selection processes and admission criteria.
  5. Online training: With advances in technology, many universities and institutions now offer online training courses that allow students to learn alongside other activities.

It is important to realise that each child is unique and that their needs and abilities may vary. Forcing a student with academic difficulties to take a high school diploma may sometimes be pointless and a source of unhappiness for the student. The important is to find a path that suits your child, whether it’s a foreign qualification, vocational training, a manual job, artistic work, or something else.

It’s also important to consider your child’s future goals and career aspirations. Some subjects or careers may require a diploma. If this is the case, it may be necessary to draw up a concrete plan to help them achieve it. Striking the right balance between academic requirements and your child’s individual needs is essential for their development.

Although a Baccalaureate or Maturità can facilitate access to higher education, they are not the only routes to university. With the right skills and a solid passion, it is entirely possible to pass A-levels or an International Baccalaureate with flying colours and open the doors to all Anglo-Saxon universities.

At EDUCOM, we work closely with students and their parents to understand the reasons for their difficulties and develop a plan tailored to their needs. Whether it’s through extra tutoring, remedial classes or simply a vocational guidance to help them find their path, the aim is to help them succeed and fulfil their potential, taking into account their pace and abilities. Every day, we work with students on an individual basis and put in place support measures tailored to their needs, while taking into account their aspirations and future goals.