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what sixth form/college taught me

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Last year I wrote about what my first year of sixth form taught me and since I’ve finished sixth form/college, I learned more things. Two years of studying my A Level subjects really took a toll on me and I haven’t exactly been open about it. When in front of people, I laughed as a coping mechanism but inside I was really distraught. While writing this list, I realised how the new things I learned are more about how I could’ve coped with A Levels instead of what to do academically (unlike what I learned in my first year). I really hope that sometime in the future, sixth form/colleges can have some sort of support system to help 
 students’ well being and mental health while completing their A Levels.

Talk to someone when you think your well being is strained
There were 2 days that I remember CLEARLY from my time in sixth form and surprisingly (note the sarcasm) they were the worst days of my sixth form experience.

On one of the days, I received a bad grade in one of my subjects. I thought I worked extremely hard but it turned out I apparently didn’t work hard enough. There were other series of events that made distressed before receiving that grade and I sat for the rest of that lesson with my head down, looking at the table I was sitting at and not talking to anyone. When that lesson finished, I realised I had a lesson straight after but I was so mentally drained that I just went straight home. I didn’t tell my teacher I wasn’t going to the lesson, I just walked out of the school and went home. 
One other day, later on in the year, I remember waking up from sleep and thinking “I just can’t do this today.” But I still went to my lesson in the morning. I sat down, took all my books and notepads out and my teacher was talking but everything went into one ear and left the other. I just couldn’t focus because of what I was feeling and thinking. I was on the verge of tears. My friend and my teacher did actually notice I wasn’t myself so asked if I was okay and like the person I was (the person who was too scared to ask for help) I said that I was fine. I carried on in that lesson putting on a front and making it seem like I was fine.

The reason I mention these two days (while currently crying about the fact I couldn’t handle what happened) is because I feel like they could’ve been made better if I had the strength to reach out and ask for help. Even though I did confide in family and friends, the general thing they’d say it “you’ll be fine” or “it will get better” or “you’ll do well next time.” I’m thankful that they were trying to make me feel better but to be honest, it didn’t. I wonder that if I somehow reached out to find a way to get professional help from someone who knows how to help others deal with their well being and mental health, I could’ve had a better experience during my time in sixth form. There really needs to be some sort of way that sixth forms and colleges can incorporate therapists or guidance counsellors to help students and let them know that they’re available like universities do. That way, I believe people would be able to know how to cope with sixth form/college better. 

Going to university straight after A levels isn’t essential 
During year 13 all that I was heard was “university, university, university.” Although university is a good option if you want to go, there’s so much pressure on year 13s to go to university straight after finishing A Levels. In my sixth form, I saw so much support for people planning on going to university right after A Levels while the option of taking a gap year or doing an apprenticeship instead was sort of pushed aside and not spoken of as much. I think it’s important for people to know about other options and make their decision based on their own research and what they think is best for them, not just thinking that university straight after A Levels is the only option.

Bad grades do not reflect your intelligence
Only I can know how much I’ve worked hard. I could’ve really worked hard and still get a bad grade. It doesn’t show that I’m stupid or I don’t care about getting good grades. It means there’s room for improvement. 

Planning is key
Planning what I aimed to do throughout the day helped me deal with stress. Not just academically but personally too. Getting a planner/diary or bullet journal and some pens are all one needs to do this. Setting goals to do every day helped me achieve what I wanted to achieve and was way better than me suddenly remembering that I had homework to do at the last minute.

Study the subjects YOU want to do and not the subjects your friends like or the subjects your parents want you to do
THIS! IS! SO! IMPORTANT! Don’t let anyone try to control your future.
Remember that it’s going to be YOU doing your exams that impact YOUR future, not your friends or parents’ future. Choose subjects that you actually enjoy and/or want to continue learning about.

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