Five Things to Know Before Starting Sixth Form

Before I started Year 12, I couldn’t stop envisioning myself strutting down a bustling corridor, best outfit on show for all to see, Frappucino in one carefully manicured hand and impeccably detailed notes in the other, meeting up with my large group of multicultural, equally as fashionable friends by my locker, retrieving my car keys, and driving us all down to some hip vegan cafe. Gone were the days of baggy jumpers and straggly ties – now, without a uniform (and legally being able to drive), I could experience an education akin to that of High School Musical.

That’s not exactly how things turned out.

1) You might not make friends immediately

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I was truly convinced I’d have a tight-knit friendship group within my first day. Like some students will, I started college alone – no friends from high school attended my college – and this new leaf was exciting for me. Being partially alone on that first week was quite a shock to my system, which is why I feel it’s important to mention. I actually had three separate sparks of friendship in a row on my first three days, but we never saw each other again afterwards, which I found really disappointing. However, making friends when everyone else is looking for a new group is really easy, and as long as you try and open up a little in classes and clubs, you’ve nothing to worry about. I’m as shy as anything, but I was pleasantly surprised!

2) Your free periods aren’t chat-and-chill sessions

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I know, I know. I thought I knew this too. I kicked off the year feeling motivated. I stayed at college from 9-4 initially and went over my classwork in my two and three-hour free period blocks. I never even considered leaving, though! Quickly, however, I saw free periods as an opportunity to have an early lunch, go on my phone, chat with mates and leave early. Oh, and they’re great for lie-ins. The amount of free time you receive can feel overwhelming at first, but don’t take it for granted. Time passes impossibly quickly, and deadlines creep closer. Get all your homework, essays and assignments out of the way, go over your notes, and revise for your next exam – then you can snake off for lunch at Subway.

3) Your teacher is there for you to talk to

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Teachers might feel a little less accessible than they did in high school. You’ll typically spend less time with them, and lessons tend to be less interactive (and more your teacher droning on for ages). Whilst independent study is important and initiative can score extra marks, there’s no need to be scared of asking teachers for extra support and advice. They’re there to help you, after all. Ask them about any exams, coursework or assignments you’re unsure about, and they’ll be happy to go through any of your essays and homework with you. They’ll probably be up for just a chat, too!

4) Clubs are great social and academic opportunities

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I was terrified of joining clubs… but I joined them anyway! Chances are your sixth form will shove extracurricular opportunities down your throat so it’ll be difficult to avoid, but always make time to check out clubs and societies. Sixth form should start off with a fair for clubs where you can check out all kinds of societies. You should be able to find something you’re interested in, even if it’s not something you considered before. I personally joined a writing club, a song-discussion club and even an archery club, which I’d never done before! Not only are these great for making friends with similar interests, but they’ll also look great on your CV.

5) You need to give yourself time to relax

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…Not whilst you have a list of essays to complete as long as your arm, of course, but once you’ve got everything you need out the way, you can take a well-deserved break. Studying your A-levels can be a stressful time; you’re potentially in a completely new environment with a greater workload and university looming over you. That’s why it’s important to settle down, calm down and not let the stress build up. If you’re feeling too panicked, though, you can always talk to friends and family, and your tutors will always be available for you to talk to – see if your sixth form has a counsellor.

Embarrassing Moments

This is my own version of a piece by Megan Boyle that I had to do in class.

Auditioned to be an angel in the school nativity. Ended up as the ‘innkeeper’s wife’. I had literally no  dialogue but the second I walked on stage I started bawling and had to be carried off. The teacher gave me a digestive biscuit and I stopped crying.
(age 5)

Saw my first ever Chinese person and shouted, “Look, it’s Jackie Chan!”
(age 6)

Told my mates I was half-French and had eaten snails before. Found a garden snail and licked it to prove it. They ran away screaming.
(age 7)

My class prepared for Let’s Sing for months and when we finally performed our cover of ‘Viva La Vida’ my mum had to rush over to the stage because I was clearly about to faint. I didn’t get a digestive biscuit that time.
(age 8)

Spilled a glass of milk over the table at M&S and felt like such a failure that I started crying.
The waitress who was mopping it up said, “There’s no use crying over spilt milk.”
(age 9)

A girl tried to drag me off the climbing frame in the playground and pulled my trousers down in the process. I managed to kick her in the face and make her nose bleed, though, so we ended up even.
(age 10)

One of the girls on my netball team got hit in the face by the ball and I started giggling.
girl: Why are you laughing?
me: The ball just whacked her in the face.
girl: Oh, so you think her getting hit in the face is funny?
me: Well, yeah.
She chucked the ball at my head and I went flying.
(age 11)

I got a pixie cut and proudly waltzed into a new class. The teacher called me a “young man”.
(age 12)

A boy at school asked me out on a date but I genuinely thought he just wanted to get pizza, platonically, and said yes. He proceeded to tell everyone we were going out so I had to tell everyone we weren’t. He promptly blocked me on Facebook.
(age 13)

I let my English teacher borrow my copy of Grasshopper Jungle because her son wanted to read it. She returned it the next day after skimming through it and said very loudly that it was highly sexual and graphic and she didn’t think neither I nor her son should be reading it. She also recommended me ‘The Chocolate War’ that same month.
(age 14)

A seemingly random fifty-year-old bloke stopped me on my way to school and asked me if I was a student and if I lived nearby. I wasn’t sure if he was going to kidnap me or not so I sprinted away mid-conversation.
My friend later came up to me and asked me why I’d ran away from her dad.
(age 15)

Wrote a mess of an email at 2AM telling my ex-favourite author why his new book was terrible and how disappointed I was in him. Thought I’d hit ‘delete’ but I’d hit ‘send’. He posted a passive-aggressive Tweet the next day about ‘haters’.
(age 16)