Sunday, 28 June 2015

Thinking about University

'You're going to University next year'.

'No, next year is...YES I AM'!!!

I'm sure many of you can relate to this, that sudden realisation that in September you're going to be in Year 13 and next year you will, if it's in your plan, be going to University. There have been many changes over these past few years forcing us to look beyond the walls of the sixth form common room and think about the future. Although, thinking about the future is quite frightening the great thing about A Levels and IB is that you do less subjects so possible university courses, to an extent, are narrowed down. Now it's all about finding the appropriate resources to help you on  your search  of possible future careers.

So here is my fabulous list for all things University that will make you super organised before you start Year 13:

WhatUni-   What Uni is a great tool and it's free! It guides you along the way, from showing you what career paths people have followed with your subject choices and grades to University reviews. It also monitors your progress e.g. alerting about when you need to start writing your personal statement, this makes What Uni an amazing tool if you have absolutely no idea where to start.

The Student Room - From advice about University Courses to personal statements Student Room is the hub for all things University. All you have to do is login (it's free) and search to your hearts content. If there is a specific thing that you want to find out you can always start a discussion thread and get responses from the other students on the site.

Fast Tomato - Complete with information about the job requirements, salaries and different career paths Fast Tomato is also brilliant for career advice. It includes questionnaires about things such as your working style and personal interests, both of which are essential when making your University choices. Unfortunately Fast Tomato is not free but possibly if you talk to your school they can sort out logins for you(fingers crossed).

Morrisby Test- The Morrisby Test is also another great tool and although you have to pay for it, it is very useful if you have no idea where to start. The Morrisby Test  'assesses various factors including abilities, aptitudes, interests and motivations' and provides you with a detailed list of possible career paths that are best suited to your abilities and interests.

The Internet and Social Media- Google is your friend, as is YouTube and Twitter. Research anything and you will definitely find information. I have a habit of looking up Universities on YouTube because some Universities have student vloggers who talk about their Uni experience and their chosen course; which I find very insightful (and great when I can't be bothered to read). You should also sign up for emails or follow Universities on Twitter so you can get updates about open days and taster sessions.

Talk to people- Career advisor, current year thirteen students, university students- anyone. I have found talking to people about my ideas post year thirteen to be extremely useful, as not only do they suggest options that I would have never thought of- they also bring to light other factors that I should consider when making my University choice e.g. whether I want to be close to or far away from home or go to a campus or city University etc.

Apply for Open Days- Find out the dates of the Open Days of Universities that you like the look of and apply for them. Some just require you to sign up to show your interest, others need you to book for a place- so ensure that you research carefully. If you are completely clueless on where to start try researching the best Universities for the course you are interested in and pick a few Universities in the Top 20 to have a look at. (I say Top 20 because the lists tend to be really long- but obviously if you prefer widening or narrowing your options, do that instead). Also it is important to treat University lists with caution because they are not always completely accurate- The Guardian University guide is said to be a good one.

So, there you are, my fabulous list. I will try and add to or elaborate on the list in the near future. Feel free to add any additional advice in the comments below.

First University Open Day

Last Saturday I went to my first University open day at Warwick University. Initially I was not excited about the open day, or any open day at all. I thought that it would add to the confusion, the confusion being WHAT ON EARTH DO I DO WITH MY LIFE and that it would be an all-round scary experience; but I loved it. The open day was wonderfully organised, the student guides were friendly and the whole atmosphere was really relaxed and homely.
Once dropped off by the pick-up bus the first thing I realised was, if I choose to attend Warwick, to attend this strange, huge place, it is going to be my home for the next few years and some of these strangers are going to share the whole experience with me, now that was frightening. I felt like I was in Year 7 all over again, with the butterflies and overwhelming feeling of being in an unknown place for a significant part of my life. Once the butterflies had settled and I had soaked up the surroundings it was time to attend the talks about the degrees on offer.

I had the opportunity to attend the Politics and International Studies (PAIS) and English Literature talks. Right now, my major battle is which path to pursue, Politics which I am really interested in and seemed to provide a much clearer pathway career wise, or English which I am completely obsessed with and would miss dearly if I leave it after Year 13. A little bit of me wanted to hate the English talk just so that PAIS ,which seemed like the course that provided the clearer path, would become more attractive to me. Unfortunately (ahh who am I kidding it wasn't unfortunate at all) I loved the English talk, the degree sounds incredibly flexible at Warwick and as you progress with the degree you gain a lot more freedom on what you want to study. There are also various opportunities to meet with experts in the different areas of English, whether it’s poets or authors. The English and Creative Writing talk blew me away, in that you are immersed in the whole English world but there is also the focus on the creative aspect and how to develop it.

After realising that dumping English (I have a strong emotional attachment to the subject if you haven't already guessed) would be harder than I thought it was time for the PAIS talk. The quirky professor, the cool students and the encouragement of debate within the audience made the whole degree seem amazing. With a focus on both British and American politics, PAIS seems like the wonderful degree to expand my limited knowledge of politics and gain a deeper understanding of the world and how it works. The political buzz in the room was intimidating especially for someone who pledges no severely strong allegiance to any political party or leader, however, the debate, disagreements and different viewpoints served to show just how challenging and interesting PAIS would be as a course. I also realised that just like English, the course does not offer a straightforward career path, both subjects are equally flexible and can lead you to a variety of careers in the future.

I left Warwick with a fresh outlook on the future and prospect of leaving my little town for the strange world of University. I am still scared and not entirely sure what I want to do, but pursuing what I love seems like a starting point, so we'll see where it goes from there.

Have you attended any Uni Open Days yet? How did you find it? Are you still not sure what course to pick or are you the complete opposite? Feel free to comment below :)

Third Week Back, Head Girl Duties and Year 6s

Third week back in school and yep we're still doing work. I've finished one book for English which makes me so happy. On Beauty by Zadie Smith is a great book and the way Smith writes is unlike any author I have ever read. She is able to present the emotions of multiple characters with equal depth all the while maintaining a great storyline. I was pretty distraught after finishing the book, not because it was sad but because I wasn't reading it anymore; it was over, no sequel, no movie, just over. If you've ever become completely engrossed in a TV series or movie you'll understand the horrible emptiness of knowing that it's over. But I'll find another book to become obsessed with soon.

Now back to school.

School has been full of group presentations- History is all about America pre Civil War, I'm in the American South group focusing on the economic and social developments up to the 18th century. In English we are working on presentations for both the prose and poetry lessons. For prose we're looking at House of Spirits by Isabel Allende and Victoria by Knut Hamsun, and our poetry ranges from Pablo Neruda to Simon Armitage. For both sections we get to select a song of our choice that best encapsulates our given extract or poem, which has been very fun so far.

Head Girl duties have also begun to kick in, we have been working on establishing what we want to represent and be advocates for (I say we because we have two head girls at my school) and also planning for and being part of different school events. I reckon my organisational skills will improve tremendously having this role, and that was not just a pretty comment for UCAS, that is a genuine life achievement for me considering that I have spent 5 years getting made fun of for having a bottomless pit of a bag and losing my phone every day. It's really exciting to have this role and represent my school community and still be my normal goofy self.

On the topic of goofiness we had our Year 6 Transition Evening a few days ago and I decided that it would be appropriate to put my hair up in two buns, like a life size Minnie Mouse despite supposing to represent this cool older girl to all the Year 6s. Instead it was more I never really left primary school, I’m 17 and still consider being Minnie Mouse as a possible career option. Meeting all the Year 6s, however, was an amazing and bizarre experience. It was like a flashback to being the nervous but over-confident Year 6, who was determined to make friends and be amazing. (Making friends, I managed, being amazing, still a work in progress). I got to talk to the Year 6s,and find out what they were looking forward to and what they were nervous about and it was beautiful to have the chance to be a part of, albeit a little part, in  their progression into secondary school.

As I'm going to be making the transition to University next year, it's amazing to see that the fears are still the same as the Year 6s. Will I cope? Will I make friends? Will I get lost? Will I survive this alien place? There is a whole load of progression made between ages 11-17 (apart from hairstyle choices maybe) and in seeing the Year 6s bubbling with enthusiasm about this new journey they are about to embark on makes me think, you know what  maybe just maybe everything is going to be ok.

How has your time back in school been so far? Are you getting nervous about University, or are you the complete opposite? Feel free to comment below :)

My First Week Back

As part of my whole plight to document Year 13 (you can read about that here) I decided to start writing little diary entry type posts- this is the one for my first week back at school after study leave  and I thought I'd share it with all you lovely people :)

I'm back to school, and how do I feel? Erm, well a bit confused. I thought the week would be a chill, sitting down in lessons doing nothing, getting a textbook or two and some sheets, maybe watching a little film. I was so wrong! It's Friday and I have books to start reading, poems to start analysing and presentations to start preparing. I guess when they said we would be starting the Year 13 syllabus, they really meant it. But you know what? It's not all bad. We are starting the most AMAZING topics in English and History. In English we are learning about Love through the ages, which is a big difference from AS The Struggle for Identity in Modern Literature. Initially when I heard the A2 course was Love through the ages, I thought 'eww why? ‘As much as I love English the thought of spending a year talking and reading about love was so unappealing, but now I am literally doing laps about how amazing the  course sounds (because I often do laps around my home whilst typing, that's how talented I am). Basically every novel has a film equivalent, which is a dream come true. I'm planning on reading The Great Gatsby (because the film is stunning), The Virgin Suicides and On Beauty by Zadie Smith. We have to read Jane Eyre and after reading an extract I just know that the language is going to be on another level of WHAT IS SHE SAYING, but it is a challenge that I am completely up for.

Then there's History, oh History, in one half of the course we are learning about Russia, which is always going to be interesting, and in the other half we're learning about 100 years of American History and get to write a huge essay on a question of our choice. I'm planning to write about The Emancipation of the Slaves, and the excitement about that is unreal. What about my other subjects? One half of Psychology is about Research Methods, which is always going to be boring, then the other half is all about addiction and why it occurs, and I'm loving it. Spanish is about technology and in the in the other half we are watching a film, which is going to be the main focus for our writing in Year 13.

So, forgive me for this dorky post but I'm super excited about learning new things in Year 13 and I'm sure you secretly are as well.

Are you still in shock that you are back to school doing actual work? Is there any thing that you are excited about learning in Year 13? Feel free to comment below:)

Thursday, 11 June 2015

15 Things Year 12 has taught me

Note: Let me start off by apologising for being away from the blog-o-sphere for so long. I had school, revision, exams the whole shebang but I'm BACK and hope to produce more great content for you all.
This was originally written on my other blog- you can check it out here 
After writing  about 15 things attending an all-girls school taught me (check it out here) , I thought since I’m going back to school tomorrow I should write about the 15 things Year 12 has taught me,so here it goes:
1. Freedom is Sweet
Free periods, are literally a God send. You can sit in the café area, eat and do nothing (oh actually you can revise and do homework because that’s what we all spent our time doing), it’s great. Especially when you need to catch up on sleep, or just don’t feel being in a classroom. (Ok I really don’t understand the concept of attending school) but FREE PERIODS=ETERNAL HAPPINESS.
2. Freedom can turn Sour
So you are sitting there in the common room, you know that you have coursework due in a week, you have to give in your EPQ and you’ve only written the intro and you have 5 million tests to revise for, but are you going to do anything? OF COURSE NOT. It is in those very moments that having deep discussions about religion and politics, painting your nails, watching vines and buying all the food in the café area seem like much more pressing issues.
3. Looking nice becomes the least of your worries
You start off every term fleeky; eyebrows on fleek, outfit on fleek, life on fleek BUT by the end of it, you’ve worn the same shirt 3 days in a row, you haven’t brushed your hair and resemble a wild animal, and you generally look like hot mess. But, fear not young ones, because everyone else looks like a mess too (apart from that one person, who always looks great, but as every science and maths student knows we forget about the anomalies because they ruin the data… or something like that, ahhh GCSEs were so long ago).
4. You make friends with the most unexpected people
In my case pretty much all my friends take science, so whilst they laughed about some Chemistry related joke, I could only watch and die a little inside because come on guys I dropped science for a reason, and this sucked for a while , but then I made friends with people who did my subjects, were in my frees and my lessons and they are fab. And for the record we have much better conversations than your conversations about covalent bonds and hydrogen, so there!
5. Class discussions give you headaches
I’m tired, I’m hungry and we are spending 30 minutes having a debate about whether or not Freud is the Darwin of Psychology and you know what I just want to crawl into a hole and never hear the words ‘opinion’, ‘discussion’ or ‘Freud’ EVER AGAIN.
6. After mocks, you have heard pretty much every failure related quote known to man                                                    
Mocks in January are not fun, but once you finish them things start to feel alright – that’s until you get your results back. Knowing that many people are gutted about some of their grades, teachers find it necessary to do the whole, ‘try, try and try again’, ‘the real failure is when you stop trying’, ‘failure is the opportunity to try again more intelligently’ and then there’s my absolute favourite- YOU ARE NOT YOUR GRADES ( Yeah, that’s uplifting, unless I get an A, then sorry I am an A).
7. The closer you get to exams, the more dramatic everyone becomes
I include myself in this tbh. I cried, felt like Carol Ann Duffy despised me and thought that life was pretty much over and although it was sad at the time, looking back on all the conversations where people would say ‘you know what I can’t deal, I’m just going to become a slug’ it was actually hilarious.
8. You realise just how hard learning a language is
Just because you were an avid Dora the Explorer fan as a child, and have been studying Spanish since Year 7 doesn’t make it any easier. Subjunctive, preposition, past participle- Bye Felicia. (but s/o to my Spanish teachers for keeping me sane this year).
9. You have a closer relationship with food
Ahh, how could I not have a point dedicated to food? The 6th form common room is basically food paradise. You have about three lunches every day; one during your free, one at break and one at lunch and in year 13 you have more free periods so I’m really excited about that (might have to turn my locker into a makeshift food store hmm…),
10. ‘Why am I here?’ becomes a regular thought
You sit there in your frees, break and lunchtime and you have one of these weird feelings where everyone’s noise merges into one and you think, of all the places in the world why on earth am I here?
11. Assemblies are used to  remind you exactly why you are there
To thrive, to succeed, to get rich so you can go on holiday to Bora Bora (this has to be one of the best things a teacher has ever said). It’s like teachers know that you are silently pondering why you should attend school the next day, so assemblies become mini Ted Talks/ Inspirational speeches.
12. There’s always that deception person
Let me explain, this scenario has probably happened to you at least once
You: ‘ I don’t really get this topic, doubt I’ll do well in the test’
Deception: ‘You don’t get it, I have NEVER got it. It’s so hard, you’re lucky you will probably get it eventually, I’m screwed. I might as well not even sit the test. I might as well never come to school ever again. I might as well just move to another country. So sure I’m getting a U’
*Gets tests results back*
Deception: What did you get?
You: D, what about you?
Deception: Oh, 100%
You: *cries all the way home*
13. If you start the year loving a subject. You’ll hate it by the end
Ah, my friend sent me this one, and although I can’t testify to it personally, it was tear worthy and a tiny bit funny sometimes, to see people who previously loved their subjects give you the look of death when you ask them about it three months down the line.
14. The jump from GCSE to A levels/IB is lethal
Right let me tell you a story: During P.E in Year 9/10 we did high jump and only God knows what was wrong with me that day, I jumped over the poll and instead of landing on the mat, I landed at the very edge, rolled over and crashed on to the floor, that’s what the jump from GCSE to A levels and IB is. But you know, we laugh to hide the pain.
15. You realise just how much will-power you have
Year 12 is basically over and we are still alive, and operating (although, you may have broken a few cogs along the way) but yeah we are still alive! Year 12 shows you just how strong you are, because there are so many times when giving up seemed like the best option but you still hung in there. So to all my fellow Year 12s I’m so proud of you and I hope we all go on to BOSS Year 13.
Is there any point that you can really relate to?
What has Year 12 taught you?
Feel free to comment and share :)