Results Day 2018 (+ A Level recap!)

Right. I’ve already written this post out TWICE but somehow managed to lose the drafts?? (WordPress is CLEARLY conspiring against me!!!!!!!!). So now I’m handwriting it up in a notebook to type up later because I don’t trust technology anymore!!

As it was A Level results day last week, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the past two years now that this chapter in my education has come to a close. I don’t know if this will be interesting but I like reflecting on things and can’t really believe A Levels are over???

For context, in the UK after you finish secondary school at 15/16, it is compulsory to staying education until you are 18 and one pathway you can choose to go down is studying A Levels and that is what I’ve been doing for the past two years. After having a bit of difficulty trying to narrow down which 3 (or 4) subjects I wanted to study, I finally settled on geography, history and French as these had been the subjects I enjoyed most at GCSE. I did contemplate taking law as well but decided to drop it on enrolment day as I wasn’t really interested in it. Even though the college tried to force me to take four A Levels due to my GCSE results claiming I’d “get better results” if I did four as it would “make me work harder” (I ranted about this here lol), I was happy with the three I chose.

I think it took me the best of September to December of Year 12 to settle in at college. Everything was new to me. I had to take an hour bus journey instead of a short walk, my timetable was very different with lots of free time that I had to learn to manage effectively, the workload was very demanding and I was surrounded my so many new people. However, all of these new experiences have really helped me to become a lot more independent and confident.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably read my various rants about my different A Level subjects (perhaps I’ll link some of my A Level related posts at the bottom of this one in case they’re useful to someone??). I think when you study subjects in such a level of depth as you do at A level, you soon discover what you’re most interested in and best at. Although I loved geography at GCSE, the A Level really was an uphill battle. I definitely enjoyed most of what we were learning and the broader perspective it gave me on global issues, however the scientific and geological aspects really weren’t my strong points, not to mention the maths! I probably did the most independent work for geography as well as it just took me forever to get my head around things. At the end of Year 12, I kind of wished I could drop geography as I didn’t know how I would cope with another year of it, but I persevered and I’m so glad I did. In my exam recap, I explained how badly I thought the geography exams went. I feel like I never really understood how to do the geography exams?? Or answer the questions?? I think my brain just works differently to how a geographers brain should, and it didn’t help that my teacher didn’t really understand what the examiners wanted from us and didn’t like marking our work. Either way, geography was definitely my hardest subject. I’m just so glad I spent so many hours writing and re-writing my coursework because my results last week confirmed that the exams didn’t go too well, especially Paper 1 and 2, so my coursework really saved me there! (And thank goodness for low grade boundaries!!!!!!!).

As for history, I didn’t really enjoy the course as much as I’d hoped. History had always been my favourite subject and I was sure I wanted to study it at uni but I just?? I don’t know what it was but I just didn’t love it that much. It’s not that the content wasn’t interesting as I did like the paper about changing democracy in Britain in the 20th century and the coursework on the origins of the Holocaust,  I think I just realised it wasn’t for me anymore and I wanted to broaden my mind and knowledge in other ways. I still worked really hard for history though, and the exams went really well so the hard work really paid off!!

French was the subject I was most apprehensive about because back in Year 11 when I chose my A Levels, I was very quiet and wouldn’t contribute in class, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do a subject that depended so heavily on speaking and having confidence. However taking French has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It really has changed me and I have so much more confidence now!! Languages are so rewarding to study and out of all of my subjects, I made the most progress in French across the two years. I barely knew French grammar or could string more than a sentence together when I started, and somehow I managed to do a 20 minute speaking exam, write essays on a book and film and complete translations with decent accuracy???? I was just SO SHOCKED when I opened my results because I couldn’t believe how much progress I’d made??? It’s so hard to maintain a constant grade in languages as it really depends on the paper and what comes up. Literally the week before my final French exam – the literature/film essays – we did a mock and I got a D which really threw my confidence as I’d been getting As and Bs all year, but I worked so, so hard after that and managed to write the best essays I’ve ever written in the final exam??? I just CAN’T believe that I did it and got the grade that I wanted????!!?! AHHHH.

I can remember in first year being very nervous before our fortnightly speaking sessions or before reading passages in class, even translations were scary when we first started doing them and now they’ve become something that I love. I’m so, so glad that I’ve had such a good teacher over the past two years and supportive classmates. Some of my best memories from college come from French and I’d love to do it all over again.

As you can probably tell, I am most happy about my French result because I just fell in love with subject and when you do well at something you love, it’s such an amazing feeling. I am proud of my other results too though. I know I could’ve gotten better results in different circumstances but there’s always more work you can do but that doesn’t mean you need to (this me is attempting to deal with perfectionist part of my brain lol). I still can’t believe my friends and I have made it through A Levels and are now going on to the next stages of our lives. It’s a very surreal feeling.

I know this has been a bit rambly, but as you can probably tell I’m just a liiiiittle bit emotional after results day. I’m so happy with what I achieved and it feels SO STRANGE that I never have to do A Levels again?? I’m a bit sad about finishing college in a way because although it had it’s fair share of drama, stress and tears, I feel like the struggle of A Levels really has shaped me as a person. I can’t quite put my finger on it but reading back through some of my posts from Year 12 and 13 just feels so weird?? Like, I can’t believe how much my friends and I have changed. I will definitely cherish the good memories!! I didn’t miss secondary school after I left, but I will definitely miss college.

I sincerely hope that everyone who received A Level results last week got the grades that they needed to progress onto their next step. You should be so proud of yourselves for making it through and I hope you can look back on A Levels with some good memories in spite of the all the stress!! Good luck to anyone collecting GCSE results this week too 🙂

I’ve linked some previous posts about A Levels from the past two years in case they might be helpful! This will be the last post I ever write about A Levels so from now on you are free from my rants haha 😂

A Level study/revision tips  (this is from Year 12 so by Year 13 I’d developed a few new ways of studying but these tips may still be useful!!)

A big thread of A Level advice

My French journey including thoughts about A Level French!!

My experience of Year 12 and what going to college is like

Summer between Year 12 and 13 study goals

Tips for starting sixth form

Sixth form stationary haul

The School Routine Tag

Study with me: Year 13 revision edition

Study with me: Easter revision edition

Exam season thoughts 2018

A Levels are over!! Exam recap

The A Level Days Are Over!!

Hey! Here I am, re-emerging from the depths of exam woes to tell you that I am DONE with Sixth Form! I had my last exam yesterday morning. The relief hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I thought I’d give you all a little update (*cough cough* RANT) about how I found this exam season.

This exam season has without doubt been the hardest exam season ever. Of course, I knew A Levels were going to be hard but these exams really did push me to breaking point. Unfortunately, I have had a lot of stuff going on in my personal life throughout exams, which has been inconvenient to say the least. It really has been a struggle just to motivate myself to study or even turn up to exams because to be honest they felt insignificant whilst it felt like my life was crumbling around me. I do feel like this has affected by exam performance (I mean, I turned up to history Tuesday morning after having a massive breakdown at 1am so y’know) and honestly, I am a bit disappointed with myself, because I’ve worked so hard over these past two years and I feel like I majorly underperformed in some exams, however I know that most of the things that have been going on are outside of my control so I shouldn’t be to hard on myself. Anyway, I thought I’d do a little breakdown of how each of my subjects went, if anyone is interested, probably more for self-reflection on results day so I can see if the exams went as badly as I thought!
Geography

Argh geography! I’ve probably ranted about geography on here before. It’s been the subject I’ve struggled the most with during A Levels I think. There’s just so much content??? Everyone says geography is just colouring in maps but in reality learning about the world involves aspects of several different subjects, like biology, politics, history, maths etc. You need so many skills to do geography and questions range from statistical tests to long essays to analysing English language in one paper (I’m looking at you, human geog paper…why did we have to analyse the negative tone of a blog post!??). I feel like I never really mastered exam technique for geography, some of the questions are so vague you have no idea what the examiner wants from you. 

Paper 1 (physical geography) was probably my best paper, although at the time I thought it went badly because I did 40 marks worth of questions in 15 minutes because I was running out of time. The following papers however, were much MUCH worse. Paper 2 (human geography) was just??? I can’t even explain. Was it even geography?? Edexcel what WERE you thinking?? Why are we analysing postage stamps and the case study of Hull (which wasn’t even on the spec)? Also (I could have a whole rant about this but I’ll spare you the misery) my college really messed up with exam invigilators. I mean, they only had enough for one per exam, which is against the rules anyway, so in my Paper 2 exams our invigilator had to make two phone calls IN THE EXAM HALL to ask for extra paper and because someone needed escorting to the toilet. I was so annoyed I couldn’t concentrate and shortly after that, I asked for extra paper and the invigilator gave me a paper someone had already written in for a different subject?! It was A Mess™. But at least everyone found it hard so it wasn’t entirely my fault that I felt like I did badly. Paper 3, on the otherhand, that was entirely my fault. I was so tired and not in the right mindset to be sitting an exam. This paper is synoptic so it aims to cover all of the compulsory units from the other two papers. The actual case study that the resource booklet focused on was decent and I knew some stuff about it, and the questions weren’t awful, but my exam technique just went out the window and I felt like everything I wrote was a load of waffle. Oh well. So, I don’t think I’ve done as well in geography as I was hoping, which is frustrating.
History

History has always been the subject that I just sort of seem to be able to do without spending hours and hours on it. I was a bit nervous about the exams because I hadn’t revised for them as much as geography (and look what use that was. Ha!) but thankfully Edexcel were kind to us and gave us three really nice papers!!!!!! In total, I wrote 8 essays – 3 on the transformation of Britain’s democracy in the 20th century, 2 on USA boom, bust and recovery 1920-1955 and 3 on the 16th-17th century witchcraze.

Most of the questions which came up I’d actually seen before (or seen a version of) in the example questions in text books and revision guides (because we don’t have past papers), so that was great! In the Britain paper, we had a source essay on Thatcher’s economic policy which was something I was really confident on so hopefully that went well. And in the USA paper, the source question was on the KKK and was almost identical to one I had written and sent to my teacher a few days before!! And one of the sources was exactly the same!! So luck was definitely on my side for that exam. The witchcraft exam surprisingly went well too, even though it was my least favourite topic and I barely had any sleep before hand. 
French

The first exam I did this year was my French speaking, over a month ago now! I can’t remember exactly how it went to be honest. It consisted of two parts – talking about 1 of 12 topics we studied over the past two years (I had the choice of family or diverse society so went with the latter) and then our individual research presentation, which I can’t really describe other than being a spoken version of coursework?? I had to do a lot of research for my chosen topic – the Calais jungle. Both elements of the exam are followed by a spontaneous discussion and in total it lasted around 20 minutes I think?? I feel like the research project definitely went better than the card on diverse society, I almost had too much to say about Calais and my teacher had to cut me off! But overall I think it was okay?? I managed to use complex phrases and idioms, but whether my grammar was accurate is another question!

My other two French exams I did this week – paper 1 on Monday and paper 2 today. Paper 1 was reading, writing, listening and translation and makes up 50% of my grade. It was my longest exam and definitely the most tiring – foreign languages take so much concentration and effort! After I came out, I realised I made a few stupid mistakes, which is inevitable I guess. I can’t really tell how well I’ve done though, because a lot of the questions seemed as if they were trying to catch me out, particularly multiple choice. It wasn’t the hardest paper I’ve done, but it wasn’t the easiest either. Who knows!

Paper 2 this morning was an essay on the book and film we study – Un Sac de Billes and La Haine. I did a mock for this two weeks ago, and it went really badly, mainly because I chose the wrong question (it appeared easier at first but turns out I had no ideas after I started writing it oops) so I was so stressed about this exam. However I think it went okay?? I mean, my film easy was definitely worse than my book essay, which is sort of normal for me anyway, but I do feel like I didn’t mess up the film essay as badly as in the mock, my ideas were just a bit wishy-washy. I tried really hard to use complex phrases and grammar and a variety of vocab, so hopefully that paid off! I kind of wish I could have kept that paper because I was so happy with my Un Sac de Billes essay (the book) lol.

Overall, I’m not really sure how French went. I really, really wanted to get an A in French because it is my favourite subject and I’m going to be carrying it on at uni. Also I’ve been getting A’s all year so I hope I haven’t let myself down at the last hurdle with a load of silly mistakes! I guess only time will tell, but I am slightly more hopeful about French than geography.

So, that’s how my exams went. I had 9 in total, and although that seems like not many compared to GCSEs, most of them were over 2 hours long so I was absolutely shattered after finishing each exam. I am proud that I scraped through exams, with everything else going on, and I’ll just have to see what happens on results day. I know my place at uni is secured, unless I fail everything, so that’s some comfort at least!

I would just like to say to anyone that has been taking exams these past few weeks – or is not quite finished yet – I am so proud of you and you should be too! 

That’s all from me for now, I’ve got to sort through all my A Level notes and mounds of text books and paper, although I don’t think I can bring myself to recycle to years of hard work, stress and tears just yet!

Hopefully I’ll be back again soon with some more exciting posts now it’s summer. 🙂

(Featured photo is of the yellow roses in my garden which have been bringing me happiness throughout exams – THEY’RE SO PRETTY)

Study With Me: Easter Edition!!!

Hello! Although I – uncharacteristically – have lots of inspiration for blog  posts at the moment (namely philosophical musings about life inspired by public transport and weather and all sorts of other not-very-exciting-things-which-keep-leading-me-to-consider-deeper-meanings), I’ve decided to do another study with me, because I don’t have enough time to do any of these thoughts justice, but I still wanted to write a little update. Hope you enjoy 🙂

8:30 – Wake up (to the annoying sound of my alarm because otherwise I’d sleep until 10am lol). I had some breakfast, got ready and made my to-do list for the day.
Sticky note reading: USA flashcards and quizlet, geography coursework, la famille vocab and la famille speaking mock
I’m actually a day ahead with revision, because I did all of today’s scheduled revision yesterday, so I decided to do tomorrow’s today.

10:00-11:00 – History flashcards

I managed to get through half of the unit I’d planned to make flashcards on because it took a lot longer than expected, but that’s okay because I’ll finish them off tomorrow.

Flashcards
11:00-11:20 – History Quizlet

I typed up the key polices, dates and statistics from my history flashcards into Quizlet – which is quickly become one of my favourite revision resources. It basically allows you to create a virtual set of flashcards which you can complete various activities and games with to help you learn them, it’s particularly useful for language vocab but works for history too!

11:20-1:00 – Geography coursework

My coursework dealdine is in 8 days, so I’m trying to use any non-revision time to work on editing it. Somehow my word count keeps increasing even though I’m trying to make it shorter?? I’m already over the 4000 word limit so it’s going to take a lot of time to get it below that.

4:45-6:00 – French speaking practice

I had a bit of a break in revision for lunch then I had to go to town to do some shopping and visit the bank. When I got home I was so tired I had a nap (#studentstruggles). But! Once I started French revision I got a lot done. I went through all the vocab for “La Famille” unit on Quizlet, then read through all the key facts/statistics and responses to “unpredictable” questions for that unit. After that I did a mock exam using a speaking card like the one’s we are given in the first part of our exam. We get five minutes to prepare (hence my scruffy handwriting pictured below) then have to give our responses and answer a few unpredictable questions for a total of 6 minutes. I recorded myself speaking as well (although in hindsight this wasn’t a great idea – listening back to yourself trying to speak a foreign language is the worst thing ever).

French revision guide with annotations
6:45-8:15 – Geography coursework

After dinner I went back to my coursework and tried to make some progress. I did a bit of editing but mainly sorted out my bibliography and positioning of photos (because aesthetics are important clearly). In the end I was too tired and kept going round in circles so I gave up for revision for the day and did a bit of yoga to wind down.
Thank for reading and, as always, hope you are well! 🙂

//Tips for starting Sixth Form//

Hello! As you probably know by now, I’m studying A Levels here in the UK at a sixth form college. This September I’ll be going into year 13 (eek!) so as I’ve been learning in a sixth form environment for a year now I thought I’d share some advice and tips with you for any of you who will be going into year 12 this September, or in years to come!

Before I start, I have written some posts giving advice about sixth for before, so if you would like some tips on how to manage your work load and revise for exams or want to read about my experience of year 12, then you may want to check out the linked posts as well!

As I do tend to rant quite a lot about A Levels on here, I’m going to be talking more about Sixth Form itself today, because the prospect of starting year 12 at a college or sixth form that isn’t joined to your secondary school can be quite daunting!

Try to relax – everyone is friendly!

know this is much easier said than done, but honestly I was so nervous about starting sixth form that it took me a while to settle in and I didn’t take advantage of the first few weeks as much as I should have done in terms of making new friends. Of course you’re bound to be a little nervous, but it’s important to remember that everyone else is in the same boat. If you’re lucky enough to have friends from secondary school at your sixth form/college, then that’s great – they’ll already make you feel a bit more comfortable, but if not, you definitely won’t be the only person who doesn’t know anyone. It may be hard to believe but people at college are a lot more friendly. For my first week – induction week – I literally didn’t know anyone in my group, and it was scary at first as I was the first to arrive in my allocated classroom for that week, but as soon as more people started to arrive I wasn’t the only one who was on my own and a group of friendly girls sat with me and we hung around with each other for the first week, which really helped! So I would say don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people and try not to let your nerves get the better of you!

Teachers aren’t always intimidating!

When I first started year 12, I did find most of my teachers quite intimidating, purely because I didn’t know them as my college isn’t joined to my old secondary school and the way that A Levels are taught was new to me, so at first it was a little overwhelming when they kept using complicated language that I didn’t understand and it felt like they had high expectations of us already. But really your teachers are there to help you, so if you’re stuck ask! Now I’ve got to know them better, my A Levels teachers are some of the best teachers I’ve ever had and you can have a lot more relaxed relationship with them than at school. Whatever you’re stuck with, they’re always there to help, not to mention they have an incredible knowledge of their subjects!

Enjoy the freedoms of being a Sixth Former

Something important to remember is that as a Sixth Former, you typically will have more freedoms than you had at secondary school. For example wearing your own clothes instead of a uniform and having free periods. I think sometimes this is what makes the whole sixth form experience more enjoyable as you have more freedom to express yourself and more responsibilities. It really helps you to mature and learn to manage your time better as well once you have to decide what the best use of your free periods are.

Try to buy your text books early on up

It’s best to try and get all of your required text books early on in September as otherwise there may be a sudden rush as every A Level student in the country tries to get their hands on the same books, so you have to wait for more copies to be printed (*cough cough* AQA French). Bear in mind that they are expensive though so maybe have some money saved if you can. If you can’t get your hands on the text books however, you could take them out from your sixth form library in the meantime as you don’ want to get behind in your learning.

Sixth form can be expensive

This kind of links in to the previous point, but as well as the cost of text books, there can be other significant costs that you’ll have to pay out when starting and during sixth form. To give you an idea, when I started last year I had to pay out around £120 on my textbooks (for three subjects) alongside £70 for a bus pass for the autumn term (as my nearest college is about an hour away). On top of that, I had to buy lots of stationary that I hadn’t previously needed at school such as ring binder folders, plastic wallets, tonnes of paper and refill pads, folder dividers, French dictionaries ect. and although I can’t remember exactly how much I spent on it all as I didn’t buy it all at once, it was probably around £50-worth of stationary. The good thing is that most of your stationary you can reuse for the next year of sixth form. As well as buyg the basics you need to do your course, there’s also the added cost of clothes to think about as if you go to a sixth form that doesn’t have a uniform like me, then you may find that you don’t have enough clothes to wear everyday or that your clothes (and shoes for that matter) wear out quickly. 

Now I’m not trying to put you off by outlining the costs, but it’s important to be aware of them so you can put some money aside and make sure you have everything you need for sixth form. However, it is worth investigating if your college offers bursaries for low-income families and to see if you are eligible. This has been very helpful for me as it means I get some money each term from the college to cover the cost of books and stationary, as well as them paying for my spring and summer term bus passes. They also paid for half of my trip to Marseille with college which I am so grateful for as although it wasn’t extremely expensive, it definitely helped my parents out to not have to pay for the whole trip. So bursaries are definitely something you should look into if you think you may struggle with the costs of college but as I mentioned before, teachers are friendly so if you are having any financial problems throughout the year, you should definitely seek advice from them and they may be able to help you by loaning you a text book until you can pay for it for example.

Look after yourself

My last tip would be to make sure you’re taking care of yourself too, as well as all your academic needs. Starting college or sixth form can be quite an upheaval and although you may think you’ll be able to cope as you’re older than when you started secondary school, sometimes the stress can affect you in different ways. So of course make sure you’re working hard and meeting deadlines, but don’t forget to schedule in times to meet up with friends or relax at home with a book, because everyone needs a break sometimes and you’ll be able to focus much better because of it!

Well, that’s all my tips for today, all that’s left to say is good luck to anyone starting sixth form and everyone else who’s heading back to school in the next few weeks! If you have any questions about sixth form, then I’m happy to answer them as always. 🙂

//What is college really like?? My guide to post-16 education//

Hi guys! This Wednesday was officially my last day of college (year 12)!! Honestly, it feels weird that  don’t have to hop on a bus and go there again until September – college has become such a big part of my life, I don’t know what to do without it! However, i thought I’d write a bt about my experiences there for you all today.

Some of you may be at the stage of your education where you have to start thinking about what you want to do and where you want to go after finishing secondary school. In the UK, there are three main options – doing A Levels, a BTEC course or an apprenticeship. Sometimes it’s possible to do a combination – for example my friend is studying A Levels alongside a BTEC. Depending on what you want to do, there are a number of options as where you can go to continue your studying. As my secondary school didn’t have a sixth form centre I had to leave and go elsewhere, along with everyone else in my year. I could either have chosen to go to another school’s sixth form or go to a college. What’s the difference, you may ask? Well, basically the majority of sixth form centres attached to secondary schools only offer A Levels and not BTECs, where as colleges offer both.

As you can tell from the title, I chose to go to the local college (which happens to be a 1 hour bus ride away…local HA) so I’m going to tell you about my experiences of college. However it really depends on what you want to do and what sort of experience you want as to where is best for you, so by no means am I going to try to persuade you to go to college over sixth form!

When it came to decided what post-16 education I wanted to enter, I knew I wanted to do A Levels – I don’t know why I just sort of did?? It also wasn’t hard for me to choose which to study as I knew History, Geography and French where my favourite subjects and I couldn’t imagine myself carrying on with any sciences or English. There was a point where I was considering doing Law as well, as the college I was hoping to attend allowed some students to study 4 A Levels dependant on GCSE grades, but my passion wasn’t really there so I decided to stick with the three. Now, there are to actual sixth forms in my local area (again about an hour’s travelling away) but after going to the college open evening, I knew the sixth form environment wouldn’t be right for me.

Everything about college seemed so relaxed, the staff were friendly and I liked the degree of independence it would give me as opposed to going to sixth form and being in a school-like environment for another two years (not to mention a school where I wouldn’t know anyone and basically everyone at that sixth form would have gone to that school for the past 5 years).

I honestly feel like I’ve grown and matured so much as a young person over the past few years, and I honestly believe it’s due to all the amazing opportunities college has given me and the diverse range of people I’ve met. I think the nice thing about going to a college is the fact that it isn’t attached to a school, so you literally get people coming from all over to study there. I’ve met people from all the other local schools in the area, as well as those from surrounding towns and cities and even neighbouring counties. Not to mention the wonderful exchange students who came to study at my college for a year – I’ve been able to make friends with people from all over Europe because of this. Obviously there are large groups of students from nearby secondary schools, but because of the mix of people, there aren’t really any “cliques” which is what I was worried about – I thought I would struggle to make new friends as everyone would stick with their secondary school friends, but honestly from the first day at college everyone has been so friendly and it’s pretty easy to strike up a conversation with anyone. Now I’d say everyone in my year group pretty much knows each other through mutual friends, and there have been lunch and break times where literally everyone in the common room has just been chatting and joining in with other people’s conversations. We also have students here who are one, two or three or more years older as they are retaking years or changing courses, which I don’t think is something you really get at sixth forms.

The next thing that is great about colleges is timetables are more flexible. Most sixth forms require you to have a timetable that resembles a school timetable  – so you’re pretty much in all day and if you have free periods you have to stay in sixth form (certainly true of sixth forms round here anyway) whereas at college, you only come in for your lessons and any free periods you can just stay at home. For example on a Monday and Thursday I have four lessons so I’m in from 9:00-4:30 but on Tuesday I only have one lesson from 1:15-2:45 so I get the morning off, and Wednesday and Friday I don’t have any lessons at all, meaning I’m only actually at college for two and a half days a week. Technically I’m still in full-time education (but it’s more like part-time because I only have 13.5 hours of lessons sssh) but I love how flexible my timetable is, and I simply wouldn’t have that if I went to a sixth form.

Then there’s the classroom environment – it feels so much friendly than school and the fact that we are treated like adults was weird at first, but now I love it because it’s so much less stressful. Plus the staff don’t talk down to you and treat you with respect as individuals, which I love and you can really get to know them on a personal level due to the small class sizes. My classes range from 6 people (French) to 20 people (history) and it’s so much easier to get to know people in small classes.

Of course the fact that we share our campus with BTEC students is great too, as it means we get to meet an even wider range of young people, and despite the diversity there is a great sense of community here.

Obviously there is a lot of independent work to do at home, but that’s pretty much standard with A Levels, however the staff are always available and willing to help you with any problems, so it’s a nice balance between being able to develop your independence but still having the support if you need it.

I’m not sure if this next point is specific to my college or if it’s a feature of other colleges/sixth forms too, but I have definitely benefitted from the links my college has with local universities. For example we’ve been able to use the geography labs atone uni to have lectures and analyse data for our coursework and we’ve attended French workshops at another, which have both really helped me gain an insight into university life and access to amazing facilities. Also I’ve been on loads of other trips – we visited the Senedd (Welsh Assembly) which made me realise I wanted to politics at uni, I’ve been on field trips for geography where I could put my skills into practice, the college offered international trips to Auschwitz with history and New York with creative subjects ands of course the French departments trip (of six students) to Marseille (which I’m going on tomorrow eeek!).

Overall, I’ve been really happy with my year at college. I think having a break from a school environment was exactly what I needed – I didn’t realise how unhappy I was at school untill I went to college and met people who actually wanted to take the time to get to know me and found friends that I fitted in with. I’ve also managed to escape all the people from my secondary school who I didn’t like, which is of course an added bonus. I think I’ve grown personally and culturally over the past year, and I’m really happy with person I’ve become. Me and my friends have al changed so much, but definitely for the better, and I feel like going to college has definitely been a stepping stone which will help me when I go off to uni, whereas I feel if I had gone to sixth form I wouldn’t have gained so much independence or developed so much personally, as here I feel like the atmosphere is so welcoming and I’m much more accepted for and comfortable with expressing myself freely and being me.

If you have any questions about college or A Levels in general, please do feel free to comment! Alternatively if you want to share your own experiences of sixth or college I’d love to hear it! I think the most important thing when it comes to post-16 education is doing what’s right for you. Don’t just go somewhere or do something because your friends are doing it – do what you want to do because I guarantee you will make friends and fit in much better if you’re happy where you are/what you’re doing  – I’ve made friends who have been the only person from their school to go to my college but fit in perfectly, and I admire them so much for taking that leap. Also definitely visit the college/sixth form as well to get a feel for it and meet the teachers. 🙂