In 2012, there were 75,000 17-year-olds with a full driving license. That number bumps up to 3.5million when you change it to 17-24-year-olds. That’s a lot of young people that are trusted to drive - but, it’s hard to fathom that when you’re brand new.
The first thing to remember is that it’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, people expect learner drivers to make mistakes. You should have clear L plates on your car (both front and back) - this will let people know to treat you with patience. If you stall, or you take a bit longer to set off, it’s completely fine. There’s no point in letting it affect you; leave the mistake where it happened. There will be people about who see your L plates and overtake you, or maybe even pull out in front of you, but don’t let that shake you up either. It’ll happen on the road whether you’re a learner or not and while its a rare occurrence, don’t let road rage get in the way or feel the need to respond to the dangerous driver.
It’s also super important to stay in a place you’re comfortable with. Your instructor will build your skills up and might push you to do things you don’t feel ready for so make sure you’re clear. If they want you to go to a big roundabout but you’re not ready, ask to stick to smaller ones. You will have to deal with them eventually but as aforementioned, it’s about building skill and doing things when you’re ready.
This especially applies if you’re out in your car/your parent's car with someone who’s not an instructor - the law in the UK states anyone can take you out, provided they’re in the passenger seat, 21 or over and have held a full license for at least three years. If you’re going out with between lessons then build on the skill you have rather than try to make new ones. This means practicing certain maneuvers that may have come up in your lessons or going on roundabouts you’ve become familiar with during the lessons as well. I’ve found that I’ve picked up bad habits when trying to learn something new with my mum in the car - your instructor will teach you everything to test standard so don’t do anything that would go against it.
Another thing to remember is that it might take time. Some people learn to drive in four months, whilst others take nine months and some take years. It may be that it’s not a priority for you, or you just don’t pick up certain things. That’s 100% fine - it took me almost six weeks to change gears properly. You’ll get used to the car you’re learning (or your own/your parent's car) and it’ll come naturally eventually.
Lastly, explore automatic cars. Manual cars, for learners, can be quite stressful - worrying about changing gears adds to the multitasking and having a clutch pedal adds a whole extra one to the mix. Automatic cars can’t stall and they don’t have a clutch; you only have to occasionally worry about shifting the lever between drive, park and neutral. It may be worth trying both; I did and found that I preferred a manual car, but I know a few other people have found automatic cars to be the most preferable option. The only downside is that you can’t drive a manual car if you pass on an automatic test but it’s hardly limiting. It might be that you pass a test in an automatic and move onto a clutch after a few years of experience.
Automatic cars are hugely popular in America; only eighteen percent of people in the USA drive a manual and ninety-five percent of cars manufactured have automatic shift boxes. It really can make the driving experience better and may be a worthwhile option for you.
Depression and A-Levels - not two words you’d expect to go hand in hand. And at first, for me, they definitely did not go well together. Why would they? It’s a disorder that creates lack of motivation paired with qualifications that need commitment. It’s definitely not an easy thing and, at first, the temptation to drop out and pick up my job full time was quite overwhelming.
So yes - it’s scary, and it seems daunting. That probably applies to other courses as well; GCSEs, mock exams, coursework subjects. But it’s not the end of the world. Off the bat, you’ll question how you can possibly deal with depression and academics, and it’s not something that everyone can work out. Some people might be able to come up with a plan and a step by step guide of how they’ll deal with the two.
I couldn’t do that - yet, I still pulled through. You’ll adjust, probably without even realising. It might take a month or two, maybe more, but before you realise, you’ll learn to juggle it. That doesn’t sound like a fun metaphor, I know, but refer back to the adjustment. I know it took me a little while to find a good balance between focusing on my depression and coping, and revision and homework.
I found that writing down to do lists was almost essential - prioritizing the most important stuff, and making sure it’s done. Keeping your workload to the bare minimum may sound as though it won’t get much done, but do only the essentials. Extra credit is important, but your main focus should be core homework and classwork. It looks better to have good grades on your everyday work, than bad grades on them as well as extra credit stuff. If you feel ready to do extra work, then by all means do but not unless you’re completely certain.
With that said, you might find it easy to detach from college and A-Levels, and you might feel dropping out is the best decision for you. College, at the end of the day, isn’t everything and you have plenty of other options. A part-time job or apprenticeship that doesn’t require revision or coursework is a perfectly good option. Some apprenticeships even pay. Equally, online courses can be very helpful. My mother, for example, got a psychology degree via the Open University and is now a lecturer at a college. Alternatively, if you have family members or friends who work in a career you’re interested in, talking to them may be hugely helpful.
If college is the only route for you to go down, most places will have a counsellor or some kind of support system for students who need extra help. For example, my college has drop in sessions or assigned weekly ones, where they can discuss coping methods and techniques. Obviously, each college will be different but it’s a requirement that colleges have some kind of help system and it’s definitely worth checking out the options.
If not, you could look at other options too. Friends can be an amazing support system; getting them to help you, or remind you of work can help you get stuff done. I also find that studying in groups is super helpful, because you can motivate one another. Some subjects may offer study groups teach, like once a week during lunch.
College stereotypically lasts two years, but there is also the option for staying on for three or four if one year is particularly rough. Most colleges and sixth forms either have an age limit of around 20, whilst others may not have one at all. This means you can resit a year, or start again entirely. No teacher or college employee would judge you for staying on for extra time - if anything, they’ll admire you for persistently trying.
However, if you do choose to stay in college, there are ways to find a balance. I found that getting as much work as possible done when I was feeling okay and motivated really minimised the workload for the bad days. Rewards are also a good way of motivating yourself (I covered this in article titled Keeping A Good Work Ethic - it’s one of my earlier articles but it pretty much covers the whole how to do work when you’re feeling crap thing).
Lastly, and probably most importantly - your health comes first. Don’t overwork yourself on bad days, and even the good days. It can result in tiredness, headaches and irritation that definitely do not coincide well with the things that depression brings. I let my college know that I’d been diagnosed, and although my teachers don’t give me special treatment, they understand the situation. You don’t have to open up, but making them aware can adjust the environment around to make it an overall, more supportive place for when you feel bad.
If you’re not comfortable talking to your teachers, there’s also the option to email them. I didn’t feel comfortable telling them directly, so I spoke to my tutor, who passed on the messages. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to any teachers or tutors full stop, you can also get your parents to call them, or your doctor to write a letter.
To conclude; explore other options, and understand that it’s new circumstances for everyone. Without sounding blunt - your teachers aren’t going to know about your situation unless you tell them. It might not be easy to tell them, but it’s important that you find a way you’re comfortable with. When people around you know what’s going on, they can support you. It’s not a solution to depression, but it’s tiny little things like that that can help you.
The patience and understanding of the people around you can feel like a godsend when things are tough. It doesn’t mean that my teachers are a shoulder to cry on, but a simple extension on homework or a ‘well done’ when you’re in a depressive episode can be the tiny little bits of motivation that can, in the end, help you pull through.
Many of us at TWE have dealt with depression or other mental health related struggles during school and college. We have an education section on the website with school and exam articles that may have other useful information, or if you want a more immediate and direct response, you can contact us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or via email.
I recently left senior school and began my A-Levels. I’m taking politics, law and sociology and as you can probably imagine, it’s a heck ton of work compared to my GCSE’s. With that said though, the transition wasn’t completely awful and unbearable. I learnt a few things that might be able to help you if you’re either struggling with the change or if you’re starting A-Levels next year.
I hope this will help people who are having a difficult time settling down. Sixth form can be a scary place - I’ve just moved from a school of 500 pupils to a college with 4000 students. It can take a while to adjust, but you will eventually. Remember how you felt at the beginning of senior school? It’s a little like that.
With that said, if you’re still struggling by Christmas, it might be worth talking to your tutor, parents or school guidance person. They can help you look at the problem areas and find the best way to tackle it. The great thing about higher education is that there’s a lot of different options for you. I remember hating school and feeling powerless to move or make a change - it’s not like that anymore. Don’t force yourself to do lessons/subjects that you don’t want to.
Applying to Colleges and Internships
For me recently, school has been a whirlwind of mock exams, revision and applying to colleges. It feels surreal because I’ve never actually thought about the fact I’m leaving school very soon and won’t ever have to go back. With that aside, I am looking forward to leaving and getting a fresh start, but I can’t do that until I’ve actually chosen a college and courses.
It probably seems really scary. I remember being eleven years old and going up to senior school, and it seemed like a huge step. Then I chose my GCSE’s which was a pretty big thing for me - but now I’m faced with choices about what I want to do for the first part of my adult life.
First things first, you should choose whether you would like to go to college or apply for an internship. There’s pros and cons to both - For example, college is part-time and and you may take more than one subject, but you can get equal experience from a internship and secure a career for yourself at the age of sixteen. Weigh out the positives and negatives of each and if you’re struggling, there are usually teachers around who are more than willing to help you decide which is better for you.
Once you’ve decided, you can begin looking at the specifics. If it’s a college, you’ll want to find one you like. You might decide based off proximity it your home or how easy it is to get there, and if you’re going for an apprenticeship you may want to look at the people who work there and what sort of jobs they offer.
After that comes the choosing your courses, A-levels or job. If you’re choosing to go to college, I strongly suggest going to open days and finding out what requirements they have. If you’re going down the apprenticeship route, you may want to speak to the people who you’ll be working with or look at different factors of the jobs such as wages (since some internships do offer payments) and working hours.
In your application, try not to talk negatively about yourself. Everybody has weaknesses but you can always trump them with your strengths. Focus on your positive attributes and what you’re best at. You may be asked questions about what you feel your weaknesses are, and when this happens, always use the word ‘but’. For example, ‘I feel I am not best at working independently, but I thrive in groups.’
If you try your best and focus on what you truly want, you can achieve it.
I am the type of person that will put off school work until it’s the last minute - I’m a terrible example, but lately I have been having to change that because of impending (or for a better word, looming) final GCSE exams.
A familiar phrase for me whilst revising is ‘just one more episode’, but one more episode turns into two, and then three, and before I know it I’ve watched an entire season of Gossip Girl and still not done my maths homework.
However, if I could give anyone in the years below me a piece of advice, it would be to change your work ethic before your final year. Because of my procrastination and lack of effort in school, my grades have been affected a lot and this has finally all had a ripple effect over the past four (almost five) years onto my final results.
It might seem like the first couple years of senior/high school are essentially pointless because of the lack of exams at the end of them, but that’s certainly not the case. If you get into the habit of working hard in year seven or year eight, this will continue through until the end of year 11 - and if you can work hard and get consistently good marks and levels, chances are that you’ll be a lot less panicked about your GCSE’s.
But how exactly do you get that work ethic? I can tell you that you need it, but that doesn’t mean you’ll know how to go about getting it and maintaining it.
It might seem like a complete drag to have to spend so much time studying, but just remember how worth it it’ll be when you’re finished. Right now, I have a ton of revision and extra school hours to do, but I finish in two months and then I can leave, and all this hard work will be a small price to pay when I get the results I want and can do the courses I want in the future.
For teenagers, school takes up what seems like every waking second of everyday. Even in the school holidays and vacations, there’s the overhanging feeling of the undone homework and unfinished revision that awaits you. I, for example, have a two week Easter Holiday coming up and I know I can’t do anything major in that fortnight because I also have GCSE’s and I know I won’t enjoy much if I’m not revising.
With that said, it is still extremely important that you split your time evenly and balance everything in your life as well as you can. Teenagers have millions of things going on - school work, exams, college/sixth form applications, keeping up with friends, doing extracurricular stuff and out of school clubs. It seems like there’s not enough hours in the day to fit everything in sometimes.
We’re told to prioritise school and make sure it’s out #1 concern. But what about other stuff - getting enough sleep, spending time with our friends? We’re expected to get eight to ten hours of sleep a night, but research has shown that only 15% of teenagers actually do so.
So - how are we meant to do it?
I can’t give you a flat out answer or method, because I myself am still not exactly sure how one is meant juggle everything and still have time to get ten hours of sleep and the appropriate amount of time outside - but I have a couple things that certainly help.
The first important thing is to work out how many hours should be spent doing what on a schoolday. Work out what time you need to wake up, and from that figure out the appropriate time to go to sleep. From there, you can work out how much time you have between getting home from school and going to bed, and can fit in your tasks accordingly. For example, I sometimes get in from school at 5PM, and I need to sleep at around 11PM - so, I can split the five remaining hours between revising, TWE work and having time to relax.
Next up is weekend hours - try and do the same thing, but bear in mind that it’s vital to take a breaks on these days, so include the relaxing stuff too. Ie, I include lie ins and Netflix marathons on my weekend plans, as well as revision and homework.
Another really helpful method is to combine activities. If you want to see your friends and revise, why not have a group study session? You could all go to a local park or cafe or to somebody’s house and bring your books/laptops. Or if there’s an episode of a TV show or a new album you wanna listen to, why not do them at the same time? It might seem like you’ll get distracted, but if you just want a day of laidback revision then it can work out really well.
Forcing yourself to revise can be unhealthy too. If you can feel your brain just blanking, it usually means you may be too tired, or haven’t eaten or drunk enough. I usually feel after an hour or so or revising, so I stop for half an hour (give or take) and have a drink and watch some YouTube videos. There’s no point trying to force yourself to learn something or do something when you’re tired because this effect your mood.
And possibly most importantly - be sensible. Don’t do a week straight of revising and take a whole week off. Don’t sacrifice your sleep to revise or spend time with people. Don’t skip meals or forget to drink because you’re taking on too much. Focus on your health as much as you are your exams.
Last, but not least - it’s quality, not quantity. Five hours of half hearted revision can be less helpful than an hour of full concentration revision. Four hours with your friends can be fun, as opposed to taking a whole or day two with them and letting your revision falter.
Remember, this stress and pressure isn’t permanent. In three months (as of April 2017), you’ll be done with school, and it’ll all be over. It’ll be worth it.
School can be stressful. With deadlines, studying and exams all being thrown at you, it's hard to stay focused on the important things, whilst still having time to see friends, family and also time to relax.
I'm in my last year of school myself, I'm about a month in and I've already heard the word 'GCSE' more times than I can possibly count. I struggle with maths and it's one of the compulsory GCSE's I need, and if I don't, I won't be able to go to college. It's a very scary thought and there's a lot of pressure, but suprisingly, I have so far managed to hand my work in on time and still revise.
I thought it through, and here is a list of ways to help you stay organised and up to date;
This might seem really dreary, because schools have strict time tables too. But it's not all that bad - it's as simple as writing it down when you're gonna do something, how long you're gonna do it for and how long it will take to get done. For example, I have a whiteboard where I write it all down. It's helped me split my time evenly (more on that further down) and still have time to relax and do what I enjoy.
2) Spacing out your time
Don't do everything at once. Metaphorically, go up the mountain a little bit at the time, and don't try and leap to the top. Most teachers are reasonable enough to give you homework/revision quite a lot of time in advance, and use it wisely. Don't leave all your homework to the night before, maybe do ten minutes per night every week until you're finished. This also works for revision. This will also leave you time to relax, and do whatever you enjoy (for me, it's watching Netflix.)
3) Stay neat
This is probably just vital for me because I have OCD, but keeping your school/work bag, desk and books tidy helps me stay much more focused. Folders, dividers and binders are very helpful here, and you can get them very cheap from Poundland (or the Dollar Store) and that you can stay organised and still look damn good while doing it.
4) Turn off electronics
I am an addict when it comes to the internet. Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook - I probably spend at least twenty minutes to an hour a day on each of those. When I'm trying to stay focused on my homework or studying, I turn off my phone and tablet and only have my laptop on. There's also websites where you can temporarily block other websites so you can't access them until a certain time. This is useful when I am meant to be revising but am also itching to watch the next episode of Stranger Things. I'll try to go onto Netfix, but it'll be blocked till 7. So what should I do until then? Maybe revise?
5) Remember the outcome
When I'm *this* close to giving in on learning the formula for the volume of a shape, I'll take a minute to remind myself of what will happen if I give in on tiny things like that, and that I NEED my maths GCSE to get into the college and have the future I want. Be careful, though, because there's been occasions where I have thought myself into a panic, where I spend more time worrying about passing the exam than I actually do revising for it.
I really hope these can help you, and good luck!
I’ve never enjoyed school that much. I have my favourite subjects that I look forward to, but as a whole, I’m not really the number one fan of attending. It’s a legal requirement, and I still have three years before I reach the age in which I can legally drop out. I will admit that I’ve faked illness before because I’ve dreaded the idea of going in (I don’t recommend doing that at all, you really actually should stay in school) and it’s even worse when my mental health isn’t in a good place.
I’m about to enter my fifth year at senior school, and I’ve genuinely surprised myself by staying in for four full years. When I first began dealing with mental health problems, I could hardly do it. But as time passed, I’ve found coping mechanisms and built up strength. I didn’t think I could do it, but I can. So, here’s a list of ways to help you deal with school when you’re feeling down.
It made me think - Rather than taking on the day as a whole, you just have to do it in small steps. Focus on getting through that lesson, or that period, and before you know it, you’ll be onto the next one. And the next, and before you realise it, you’ll be packing up your stuff to go home.
This is probably the most simple. It can apply to other stuff like revising/studying or doing chores (which going to school can seem like sometimes). For example, I would tell myself that if I could get through that day, I could watch an episode (or a season, TV streaming is addictive) of my favourite show. You don’t just have to use shows - It could be anything, from a piece of cake to going somewhere nice that weekend. It’s just nice knowing something good will come out of going to this supposedly bad place.
3) Soldier Through
If you choose not to think about the problem too much, which I relate to, then this method could help you. Rather than thinking oh no, I have to go to school, just do it. Just get on the bus, or in the car, and do it. Don’t think about it, and when you get home, you can be proud of yourself.
4) Picture the Future
This can work in two ways - the near future, or the far off future. For the earlier mentioned, you can imagine yourself walking through the front door, having got through another day, and being proud of yourself. Maybe then you’ll go to school and get through it, just to say that you were able to do it. For the latter mentioned, think way, way further into the future. Whether it be opening your GCSE results and getting what you wanted, or getting the qualifications for your dream job, You have to go through school or an education to do that - It’s like the light at the end of a long, dreary tunnel of homework and textbooks and perhaps being in a classroom with people you don’t want to be with. It might seem far off, it’ll be worth it.
I really hope this helped, and I hope everyone has a good day back (or had, if you’ve already started school) and that your school year is a good one.