For a lot of people perhaps reading this, you will be thinking about applying to colleges or what to do after year 11. For a lot of people this is quite a scary and confusing process as you have no idea what you really want to do.
For myself, I changed my mind very quickly and didn't really know what I was doing or where I wanted to be, I got very anxious about college and frequently had panic attacks and breakdowns over the idea of change and exams and getting the grades needed for my desired college. So i'm writing this article to just give some advice on what to do when you're struggling.
First of all, a question I frequently asked myself is "what do I need for this career?" at first I thought this was a good idea, but as time went on I realised it wasn't that great of an approach. I found myself getting caught up too far ahead in the future, going to pick subjects that would get me really great university opportunities and so on. The first stepping stone here is to forget about 2 years forward and think about now. What is it that you have enjoyed your whole life?
Think about subjects that make you happy or excited for, try and find something you've never done before but have a real interest in it, whether it be Human anatomy, dance and performance, hair and beauty or advanced maths, there are subjects for everybody and there's such a range of choices within a subject area it's almost impossible to not find something
Don't think about the grade requirements! Unless the subject is incredibly popular or specifies you need background knowledge, try not to let the suggested grade requirement bother you. I did not receive my required grade in History yet I take it now, unless a subject is overfilled, you are more than likely to be accepted into it if you are one grade below in some cases they even let you on it if you're two grades below.
There's time to change! If you get to college and start doing your subjects almost every place will give you two weeks to change your options if you don't like them. Don't be disheartened if you pick something but then wish you'd picked something else.
Don't go somewhere/pick subjects based around your friends. Personally I did this, and even though I do my regret it, I perhaps would have chosen slightly different options however me and my best friend chose the same options (we both really enjoy them and always have and it was more of a coincidence- but I was influenced by them) But it's almost certain your friendships will change and you'll meet people with more common interests, and I mean A LOT more people, college is huge (especially mine) it's filled with many different types of people and you're bound to find people you get along with even if you don't take classes with any of your friends.
Pick the school based on the building as well as the subjects and offers. For me, the building was the most important part, I wanted to go somewhere where I felt comfortable and happy and welcomed, my current college offered that, and even though their reputation wasn't as high as the other college I was accepted in to, I didn't like their buildings and I felt I wouldn't be able to learn. A good atmosphere is vital in having a nice college time.
apprenticeships/jobs- i can't give much advice on this area, but if you are certain you know what you want to do, an apprenticeship is an amazing way to learn more about it, earn money, and open doors to the future, don't feel bad doing an apprenticeship rather than going to college, both are just as creditable!!
do not be scared! - I was terrified for college when I was in the process, but when it comes down to it, it is now the best educational experience I have witnessed, it's really fun and welcoming and I wish I could go back and tell myself I have nothing to worry about. i'm not sugar coating it, i'm being 100% honest, focus more on your GCSEs and make college applications an after school-work activity. It is important to think about it, but don't get too worked up over it, it's honestly much easier and calmer than you believe! And remember... there's always time to change! it's never too late, so don't worry too much!
Work hard on your GCSEs as that's the most important thing right now, get good grades and more opportunities will be open for you!
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers with a platform to share and help others from their own experiences while also educating others on different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all teenagers around the world and support others. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.