For many, it doesn’t bear thinking about, if I’m honest.
The job market seems to not be built around those who are leaving university with a degree in hand and mortarboard on head, but around those who are 16 years old and trying to work out what they’re going to do when they’ve left school. Do we go off and start an apprenticeship/HND/NVQ or do we find a Sixth Form College? If we choose the latter, what do we do? Could we pick an International Baccalaureate or do we need to stick with some A Levels? For many, the most attractive route – from a job perspective – lies with those who pick going to Sixth Form. Going back to the first sentence of this article though… that doesn’t appeal to everyone. Some people might be a little unsure as to what to expect. Some people want to choose a different option, but the prospects don’t look so bright. That’s why man decide to go down the Sixth Form route. Therefore, allow me to take a look at what you should expect when you get into a Sixth Form. I never studied for an IB, so I’ll keep it nice and general for you. You’ll meet new people, experience different challenges and get prepared for the next phase of your life. There will be new people to meet Some of my good friends from Sixth Form were those who had come from different schools. My Sixth Form was attached to my secondary school, so they were very much in a minority. You’ll find that they’ll be somewhat nervous and not know too many people. Get to know them! Aside from making some good friends, you’ll also have an opportunity to help them and possibly get some sound educational advice from them too. Personally, I’m not sure I would have survived A Level Mathematics without the help of ‘that new guy.’ You’ll be more independent Right from the word go, you’ll find you aren’t in classes all time, unlike at GCSE. You’ll sometimes have free periods of time where you don’t have a lesson to attend. My advice? Make good use of your time when you’ve got some free. Use it to start some homework or do some extra study. Why the latter? You can’t survive purely on your knowledge What you’ll have found at GCSE is that sometimes studying lots on top of your homework wasn’t really all that necessary. If you knew it, more often than not you were able to get through it all OK. Did I revise enough? Probably not, not for my GCSEs. The trouble is, this doesn’t really cut it when it come to A Levels. New concepts are introduced that mean that you’re going to need to take more time to go over what you’ve learnt. Sometimes, the material carries little real-world value (or so you’ll think) so you won’t be able to think ‘well, I’ll know it.’ Speaking of practical material… Things will get theoretical… Remember in Science classes when you did Physics-type learning? You’ll have learnt about electricity and voltage and other ‘real-world- stuff. When you make a start on those A Levels though… you might find that what you are looking at is a bit more theoretical and may even include theories that haven’t been totally proven just yet. To use the Physics example, you’ll learn about leptons and quarks and gluons. The formation of atoms and even quantum mechanics. These are only theories that even science does not fully understand. Quite literally, you’ll be on the cutting edge a bit more. You made a choice to be here… and teachers will remind you of this You had to do GCSEs. Sadly. Now you’re in Sixth Form though… you’ll find that things are somewhat different… and don’t the teachers go on about it. You’re there because you want to further your education even more. The trouble is, you’ll find that teachers will use this as a clever way of heaping the pressure on you. You can’t use the excuse of ‘well, I have to do it’ any more. Why the pressure? Well, they want to see you succeed. I guess that’s the most obvious answer, though there’s always something in it for them too. My advice is to look at it as them giving you a kick up the rear from every time to time. My advice is to take it on the chin and think about what you are working towards. Speaking of which… They can’t wait for you to leave… Literally I’m not being mean or nasty when I say this, but they really do want you to leave. My Sixth Form head said that this is all preparing you for the next stage of your life. It all stands to reason then that things will be a little bit different then – the support might be a little different. You might have a Progress File to fill out to mark out different achievements; you maybe will have to make a CV to put in there too. All of this could well be useful in later life. It’s all in the name of getting you ready for the next stage of your life. The immediate next step after A Levels or an IB? You’ll meet the REAL stress inducer... If you’ve ever felt that something was really important for your future… yeah, you’ll get that again. I am, of course, talking about the UCAS application. You’ll be given some guidance and help with it when you’re in Year 12 and nearing the end of the summer term. Ironically, it’ll be some of the best support you’ve ever received at school, but towards the very end of your time there! It can be a massively stressful process, I won’t deny that. You have to be meticulous in what you’re doing and that personal statement you have to make? Well, getting the wording right is never easy. My advice? Please…. just persevere! Oh crikey, it’ll feel tough. It’s a massive step up from GCSEs and that will be apparent from the start. However, it’s just as much about sticking with it and never quitting and thinking that this… it’s what you’ve been building up to. It’s your moment to get everything you’ve ever wanted. What I’ve done here is write something a little more ‘real.’ A Levels and the IB are not easy. However, if you’re able to find that drive that you know you’ve got, you will be OK. Best of luck to you!
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