Starting sixth form, college, or anything new for that matter is generally one of the most nerve-wracking, anxiety-overloading, frightening things anyone can go through. As I’ve finished sixth form I thought I’d write a list of the 10 things I wish someone had told me before I started…
(lil bit of background) Three years ago, when I seriously had to start thinking about my future I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to study; all I knew was I needed to get out where I was. I was bored there, it held no reason for me to stay. Around February / March time one girl suggested I look at the college she was going to, they had an excellent drama department (which was a central point for me) and it was accessible from where I lived. I applied, had an offer after the interview and got the grades to study the courses I was interested in (Drama and Theatre Studies, Film Studies, English Language and Literature Combined, and Philosophy and Ethics).
Have confidence in yourself, everyone is in the same boat as you are!
It didn’t really hit me that I was going somewhere I didn’t know, with people I didn’t know to spend the next two years of my life there until the evening before I started. I was terrified the morning of my first day, school wasn’t the happiest time of my life and like most I really didn’t have a good time there – hence wanting to get away when I had the chance and I managed to carry all of the anxieties I had there across to college. When I was walking to my tutor group I was so close to running and hiding in the toilets for the day, going home and never going back. What if I didn’t make friends? What if I faced the same things as school? What if my teachers don’t like me? It was ridiculous, I was given this opportunity to start afresh. I’m a shy person at the best of times and being thrown out of my comfort zone did not help with the lack of self-confidence.
When I walked into my tutor room and saw the biggest class I think I’ve ever seen, all talking like they’d been friends for years, I couldn’t help but freeze up, went bright red and started to get sweaty palms. The only seat free was between two groups of girls who clearly knew each other previously so having to go and sit between them was not fun, but as soon as I sat down they were so lovely and made me feel so much more comfortable. Literally within 5 minutes I was more confident than I’d ever been in my entire life.
Basically, just throw yourself into things, these people don’t know you. They don’t know what you were like in school, this is chance to start again.
Walk into your classes, sit down and talk to the person next to you. Talk to them about bands you like, what your favourite food is, be weird around them! Just do you, again – everyone is in the same position as you are, they’ll probably be happy someone’s trying to get to know them.
That’s the mistake I made for the first few weeks, I acted like someone I wasn’t and I was so arrogant because of the fear of being judged. It was so stupid, when I finally got around to being myself and calmed down from the initial nerves I was making friends in all of my classes and enjoying myself so much more!
Give everyone a chance
In my Philosophy and Ethics class, there were a group of girls who were always sat together and having a laugh, I’m pretty sure they were friends before college but they were the typical popular and pretty group – I didn’t talk to them for months because I didn’t think they’d want to talk to me. It was a very small class and who I sat with were honestly not very nice, they were very judging which isn’t really the best thing for a topic as broad on the spectrum as Philosophy and Ethics is. Anyway, I was early to a lesson and stood with one of girls from the group that I thought didn’t want to talk to me. To defuse awkward silence, we started talking and I quickly realised I had completely misjudged their entire group. They could see I wasn’t happy where I was and invited me to sit with them, followed me on social media, we made a group chat and they truly made me realise you cannot judge a book by its cover.
My sixth form / college was huge and people came from all walks of life. I was still holding onto how people made me feel in school and it was really getting me down, however, in the end, practically everyone I spoke to at college was incredible and interesting and kind. Up until the day I left people remained like that and it categorically has changed my previous views on how I judge people. I made friends with people that I would have previously completely avoided. Obviously, there was the odd one who didn’t like me, but I’ve always thought that you could be the ripest, reddest strawberry in the punnet, but there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like strawberries – so don’t be put off – you can’t please everyone.
Organize your time
This was my biggest downfall when I was studying, I had so many free periods but spent them having a laugh with my mates rather than reserving a few for study, homework and coursework. Write yourself out a timetable, and USE YOUR FREE PERIODS WISELY!!!! Go and have a laugh with your friends but don’t forget homework, I did and ended up doing multiple all-nighters to get the work done.
Talk to your teachers
With what I’ve touched on about school I often got very upset or stressed with myself. When I joined college, I was dealing with a lot of mental health problems and often had to take time off for psychology sessions, periods of extreme anxiety and doctors appointments in my first year and in my second year personal circumstances often meant I couldn’t come in. At first, I didn’t tell anyone and my teachers were getting so frustrated, but when I finally told them everything that was going on they were enormously supportive, for the entire two years they would check up on me and I felt like if I had an issue with the work on in life in general I could go and talk to them and get advice… I think that’s one of the most important things, teachers can actually suck ass at time’s but realistically they want you to do well and if you don’t utilise then you’re wasting so much information.
Dress for comfort
I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m extra and decided wearing Chelsea boots and a full face of make-up was a good idea when I’d gotten no sleep and was going to be sat in lessons all day. Seriously, wear trackies and a messy bun no one cares.
College was easily the happiest 2 years of my life, I took so many photos during my time there, they make me so happy to look back on. Especially around exam season or when I wasn’t feeling great I’d look back on the photos and instantly know everything was worth it for the bunch of complete idiots I have for friends (fo’ real though, thank you guys for being stars).
Do the extra-curricular activities
Boring as hell but you get pals and looks good for UCAS (am I mature now?).
Know it’s ok to stress from time to time
The jump from GCSE to A-Level is stressful, and the jump from AS to A2 is even worse but it is so worth it! I always felt bad if I was stressed, like I wasn’t doing enough or wasn’t good enough and I bottled it up until something tiny pushed me over the edge and I’d be this massive ball of stress for no real reason. To avoid this, set yourself targets, talk to your friends and teachers… let them know how stressed you are and 99% of the time they’ll support you, even if it’s by letting you have an extra night to do your work.
Possibly the most important part of sixth form is having fun. You’re put under so much pressure to get good grades it’s so important that you keep positive and try and have a good time. Go out for a meal with your friends, order a pizza, go out on the weekends!
For anyone that just about to start a new school, do not worry too much! You will be ok!