A year ago, I had just finished year 11. My GCSEs were over and I had the summer to overthink how I had done. That was scary enough. Add on the whole ‘A-Levels are a thing that will happen’ thing and you have one messy Lily.
I have not handled the last year well, for many reasons, but partly because of things I wish I had known about A-Levels – things I hope I can share with you now.
1. Organisation is key!
All throughout secondary school I had a book for each subject – we all did. All my notes were in one place with all the 98698239857352 sheets of paper the teachers handed out. I knew where things were.
At college, we use folders and loose paper. Now, a year’s worth of class notes are in various piles around my house. I don’t know where anything is and when it came to revising, I had to remake resources simply because I couldn’t find them.
It’s important to remember that when teachers say you need to have organised folders, they mean it! If I had just spent 5 minutes when I got back home putting the day’s notes in folders, I would have saved hours and hours of valuable time later on.
Also, a planner or diary is a very helpful thing to have! You will be given dates and times and due dates and work to do, and you won’t be told to ‘write it down in your school planner’ anymore. It is now your responsibility to know what is happening. If you don’t know, you have to ask. Ask other people on your course or email your teacher. Just make sure you know, because your teachers won’t care if you ‘weren’t here when it was set’.
2. Freedom is scary
Regardless of whether you are going to a college or a sixth form, you will find yourself being more independent. A lot of this comes about through your timetable. You might find yourself having several hours a day without a lesson. I wish I’d learnt to use this time more wisely, rather than going to Starbucks with my friends.
You will be expected to do work outside of class – not just in the form of homework. If you don’t do the work they set, it’s on you. You will no longer be pushed to do it and won’t get chased if you don’t. You have to do that bit yourself – just don’t push too hard!
3. If you need help, you need to ask.
If you are struggling or finding your courses difficult, it is important to talk to/email someone as soon as you can – whether it be your tutor or your subject teachers. They are not psychic, and they will not know to help you if you do not ask for it. It can be scary, but I guarantee that it’s worth it. You’ll probably be surprised by how lovely they are and by how much they’re willing to help.
4. It’s okay if you don’t know anyone – you will soon!
Your school aren’t lying when they say you will make friends. A lot of the time, you don’t even have to try. It just happens!
5. There is no bell!
There is no longer a bell to indicate the end of a lesson or the end of the day. If you have a lesson, you have to look at a clock in order to know when to go. It’s helpful to have an app or a piece of paper with your timetable on it, so you know what order they come in.
In the first few weeks, you won’t know where any of your lessons are, and that’s ok. The teachers are very understanding of this and won’t care if you are late because you are trying to find your classroom! If you really don’t know where to go, ask someone. There are very few people who will not help.
6. Catching up on missed work is so important
There will inevitably be days where you miss school. Some people will only miss a few each year and some people, like me, will miss many many more. If you are not going to be in for any reason, it is so so so important to email your teachers and ask for the missed work. They will not give it to you otherwise, and you will regret it and quite quickly feel the consequences. Generally, lessons include an awful lot of content – content that will ultimately make everything more difficult if you don’t learn. If you have missed work, you will need to find the time to catch up. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me and you’ll get to revision knowing that you have missed massive chunks of the course.
7. Don’t leave things until the last minute
This is the most important thing I will never learn to do. I am a serial offender when it comes to procrastinating (hence ‘procrastilate’).
I found it impossible not to, but I feel my year would have been a lot easier had I not left everything until as late as I possibly could.
If you get set work, write it down and start it when you get home. Yes, you could be binge watching TV or playing The Sims, but that can wait. It can wait more than you think your work can. If you can’t handle the distractions at home, do the work during your free lessons! That way you’re near any resources you might need, and it means you can do whatever you want in the evening.
And as an extra, here are some bits that don’t need a paragraph
· Bring headphones – people are loud
· Bring your phone charger – you will probably use your phone more than you expect
· A-levels are hard - sorry
· Reading what you will do in the textbook before a lesson is a great idea
· You might be able to wear what you want, but that doesn’t mean anyone cares about your appearance – they don’t
· Dropping a subject is ok
· IT WILL BE OK
just a quick point to say that you can always message me if you need any advice or have any questions. I am more than happy to help, I just can’t guarantee I’ll be very helpful :))