Its getting close to the point were lots of people will be moving up from school and GCSES to college to start A levels. So as a apart of blogust I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to sit down and talk about what to expect from college life and the differences to school. If you have any-other questions on college or such like don't be scared to ask!
Sixth Form or College?
Personally I went to an independent sixth form college meaning it is not attached to a school but unlike a normal college it is more A level based learning. I'm not going to sit here and tell you should do that because I found it to be the best option but I will say I left my school because I did not really like school when there and was ready for change. I also found talking to some older friends that it cuts out the a very big leap to uni. By staying at my sixth form I felt I would be making the gap to Uni far to big to deal with. Furthermore personally I felt like if I went to college I would know that my teachers would be there for me all of the time when only looking after 2 years rather then being there for 7. However many people find sixth form is best for them and im not going to argue with that. What I will say is you have to look round. I have some friends that stayed at my sixth form that never looked to go anywhere different. I could never do that, my advice is go to every open night, college fair or induction you can in order to find the place best for you. You don't want to be missing out in the future.
What to wear
Deciding what to wear on a daily basis when starting sixth form or College is always a big thing to adjust from. Different from the US, British students have had a school uniform all your life so this big change can make some people go a little crazy with their outfits. Its all well exploring your style a little more when moving to a new place however its important to remain comfortable especially when you get closer to exams. I recommend investing in some key pieces that will last all year and then do a big Primark shop ect to get lots of basics. Invest in good statement jewellery that can dress up a very basic outfit and a good bag that will last the whole year. A few bags of mine broke last year which meant I ended up wasting money.
I think the biggest thing that scares people when moving to college is making friends. Although I was lucky to move up with an amazing group of 4 girlie's from my old school, its still scary. However from a college point of view there is so many people and all of them feel exactly the same as you do. In the first couple of weeks, trust me you will make friends in your lessons because you literally have no one else to talk to. As well as people in your tutor ect. Our college also had a introduction day were you did silly team building stuff to get to know people. It was stupid however you make friends by laughing at what the hell you are doing.
The main difference I found between GCSE and A levels is how much more grown up you become. There is so much more independent learning compared to GCSE to prepare for university.The work load compared to GCSE is MASSIVE! I know lots of people always say that GCSE's are easy compared to Alevels and I always use to get annoyed when people said that when doing my GCSE's. There is times when you will procrastinate however you cant blag your way through A levels, you will need to do the work to a high standard to have a chance of getting the good grades.
I'm not sure what other colleges this point applies to but at my college we actually call your teachers by their first names. Although its really weird to get use to at first I found it so much easier as you really get to trust and know your teachers.
Free periods and Support sessions
Most colleges will have free periods or morning / afternoon off. If I only have one tip it would be don't waste them! I'm not saying spend every single free period in the library because you need some time to breath but especially closer to exams you will have to spend them catching up on work and revising. As for support sessions my college ran support sessions for most subjects from September. If you are offered a support session especially before exams then take it! Its a chance to get one and one with teachers and give yourself a better chance at exams. There is no point in not going and putting yourself at a disadvantage.
So I will talk about subjects as a whole and then ill go into more detail on my own subjects. Basically the gap bewteen GCSEs and A levels, even though talked about a lot, can not be over looked. You will have to spend hours a week revising and recapping to come out with decent grades. Compared to GCSE your teacher will expect you to do all the work yourself. They wont just hand you all the information you need to get an A. You will have to do further reading to reach the best possible grades.
Biology - (My exam board being AQA)
I know some people who might be reading this might think I'm a bit stupid however I was close to dropping Biology at the start of the year. I felt like I was thrown in at the deep end as looking back maybe I didn't have the right mind set at GCSE. However even if you find a subject really hard to begin with most times I would say stick with it, work hard and get the grade. Towards the end of the year I really began to enjoy Biology and now am going to to study it at A2 and a degree with references to it. To get to that stage though I did have to work really hard. I spent endless nights doing past papers and going to every revision and support session put on by the department.
Pyschology - (Exam board Edexcel)
I really enjoyed Psychology, I love the subject but there is a lot of information to learn. Depending on your exam board I found that as soon as you got the basic structure for answering questions in your head the rest should fall into place. There is a lot of case studies and theories to learn so you really need to be organised in psychology folders otherwise its very easy to mix up the different units.
History - (Exam board OCR)
Unlike GCSE there is ALOT of information for History. There is a lot of background reading and the paper is just 4 long answer questions. However it is a really interesting lesson. Last year I studied Cold war in Asia and The British empire 1815 - 1918. Even though I am dropping the subject next year to pick up Geography AS, I did enjoy the lesson however the work load like every other A level is very high.
Business - (Exam Board AQA)
I didn't have the best time in business last year however this is not down to the lesson but my Teacher only being in for half the year due to illness. I enjoyed the actual course however and I think its the type of subjects that will benefit all career paths.
If you have any questions about starting don't be scared to ask! And if you have any other tips please leave them in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!