It was a normal day in Year 11 until we were called down to the hall for an ‘assembly’. As optimistic as I was, thought we were getting presents as end of year achievements, but ead, we were having an assembly on preparing for A Levels and college life. And as clueless as I was, I didn’t pay much attention because I thought “Hey, it’ll be okay. I’ve done plenty of exams”. I underestimated the words ‘stress’ and ‘workload’, because, honestly, thought A Levels are just like GCSEs… and couldn’t have been more wrong.
Truth is, the first year of college is so much more than just exams. It’s the year where you start building up your personal statement, setting the foundations for the next year. When I was told that the year would be stressful, I was thinking exams would be hard…but it extends further. You have to get involved in enrichment activities, extracurricular work, further reading on a subject, just to give your personal statement that extra boost. I had no idea the level of commitment required for A Level, so by April, I realised that had nothing to write in my personal statement. And yes, it was difficult to find something because once you’re applying for university, it’s a cutthroat competition. You have appear commendable, and to do that, you need to show your passion for your subject. Personally for me, it would’ve been helpful if I had applied or even looked for work experience before starting A Level, just so had that extra preparation when I needed it. Create a spreadsheet of all future work experience places, contact details, placement dates, just to stay organised and well prepared for the summer when you start gaining that work experience.
This leads me onto my next point- staying organised. Everyone knows that A levels have heavy content and it’s not something you can revise for the night before. Trust me, I’ve tried this, and I don’t know why I was surprised with an E. To revise efficiently, you have to stay organised. This means well organised notes and a huge folder. When people warned that A Level is going to have a lot of content, they gave no further advice on how to deal with it. It didn’t come to me that needed to keep my work in order so I can revise through it efficiently, so here I was, spending three nights sorting out my folders when in fact could have spent that time revising.
And another thing-pick subjects that you enjoy. If I could talk to my Year 11 self, I would advise her to choose any other subject than Psychology. Truthfully, I only picked Psychology because I thought it related to my STEM subject choices, but came to realise by the end of the year, it just wasn’t for me. Soon it was showing in my grades, and realised that could have excelled at another subject that I genuinely was interested in. The subjects you choose doesn’t necessarily have to be the ones that you got the highest grades in, and if there isn’t any passion for the subject, where will the motivation to revise come from?
In all honesty, not many school assemblies can’t prepare you for college, you just have to go in there and experience it. But the one thing wish knew the most? How important extracurricular activities are by the end of the year when planning your personal statement. It would be useful to start finding work experience right now, keep a list for later, and maybe even start a volunteering position before you start college! That way you don’t have to Worry about the application process while revising or studying. While A Levels and college life may seem stressful, you’ll realise how much of a great time you have with others around you. To go through the same experience with them and find that you all succeeded together just makes it all worthwhile.