The decision to go to go to sixth form or college is tricky enough, without having to contend with other questions – do you move sixth forms? Which college? Art college? Normal college? Which subjects?! It feels like the decisions are endless so I’m here today to just share my opinion with you! Obviously, the decision I made is not a one-size-fits-all choice but it’s never a bad thing finding out someone else’s opinion, and especially not somebody who’s only recently gone through the experience!
So – me. I was fortunate enough to get the grades needed to go to a sixth form, starting September 2017. In my area there are quite a few – the one joining to the school I was already at, a joint sixth form between two schools in the nearby town which has around 1500 students (!!) and 2 others, although the only ones I really considered were the first two. Similarly, there are three colleges nearby, plus an art college and an art uni. I picked the sixth form adjoined to the school I’d been at since year 7, and I feel very happy here, but I’ll go through the processes of my experience later.
I didn’t really consider college because I felt that a sixth form would be more structured and personal, and the impression I get from my friends who decided to go to a college is that it’s so much more independent and co-existent – whereas I know 95% of everything about 95% of the people in my classes, you’re lucky to get to know 5% of the people there. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: a fresh start is sometimes exactly what I feel like I need! But I figured that the workload would be tough enough as it is, nevertheless trying to make new friends, getting to know my way around the campus etc – but again, if you feel like a fresh, more liberating start is what you need, college is a perfect way to get this.
I don’t know if this is just my school, but the vibe I got was that’s it’s a *softer* option to go to an art college, and therefore we, as students, were given virtually next-to-no information. The whole application process revolved mainly around attending the sixth form linked to the main school, and every assembly we had about post-16 options was just our sixth form being sold to us. Obviously, I know as a school they need lots of students but I also felt it was quite unfair for people who definitely knew they wouldn’t be going to our sixth form, or any sixth form – although I personally wasn’t considering any option except sixth form, some of my friends were and they felt they weren’t getting the right information. That’s partially the reason I’m writing this post – if this is an occurrence in most schools then I feel compelled to give at least my experience of the system! If you’re not looking at sixth forms, I would definitely, definitely recommend going to as many open days as possible, looking at reviews of colleges/art unis online, getting hold of prospectuses or try and get in touch with current or ex-students to get a feel for the place. Schools try to persuade you to stay at sixth form, particularly their sixth form, but if you don’t feel it’s right for you, don’t be sucked into feeling you have to go there.
Maybe you have an idea of where you’re going to go next year, but you’re stuck for what subjects you’re going to take? I found this to be the biggest problem I had, and I also struggled somewhat in the first few weeks of September. The best advice I can give here is just take the subjects you enjoy, because honestly, it’s so important! Sixth form or college takes up 2 years of your life so you might as well choose subjects that you like.
Saying that, it’s also important to bear your post-18 choices in mind. If you’re like me, you’ll know kiiiinda where you want to end up but not really, so don’t let this completely sway your decision. It’s a good time now to start thinking about what uni you’d like to go to – if you’d like to go to uni, that is – and what subjects you’d need for courses there, or what job or apprenticeship you’d like, but I like to think that you’ll end up doing what you were meant to do by making any choice. My point there is that even if at the time maybe you’re unsure of your subject choices, don’t stress too much about them – yes, they’re important, but you’ll end up where you want to go regardless.
I feel like I’m quite an *experienced* person to talk about A-Level choices, since I’ve dropped 2!! I started in September taking English Lit, Biology, Geography and Art, then really disliked Biology and swapped that for English Language – which quickly became my favourite subject! In about November I think, I also considered dropping Art, which I followed through with at the beginning of January, because I felt it was more important to concentrate on 3 subjects. Whilst I do miss the creative subject, I enjoy the more academic-based subjects more, so I think dropping Art was the right decision. My story shows that even 4 months into a course there’s still leniency – if you’re not happy, there’s no point forcing it, so don’t think your decision is the be-all and end-all.
I hope this post perhaps steers your mindset a little bit closer to a decision: I know it’s tricky – you haven’t even sat your GCSEs yet, never mind got the grades to go to sixth form or college! Whatever you do can be changed so remember that – your final decision might not actually be your final decision!
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