My Advice For Anyone Starting Year 12
Written by Beth (she/her), who loves having pink hair and wearing makeup.
The start of a new academic year is about to begin, and many of you will be following in my footsteps of going to an unfamiliar sixth form or college. So I thought I'd share my experience and advice for any of you who are feeling apprehensive like I once was.
Leaving school, starting sixth form
I went from the comfort of my old secondary school to a new sixth form attached to a different school. I went almost alone, with just my twin sister and a couple of people I didn’t know very well from my school. All my other friends went to a different college.
My first day, 03 September 2019 to be exact, was like most other first days. I got up early, put on my favourite outfit and my makeup, and had a little bit of breakfast. The nervousness was hitting me already. I had that proper feeling of butterflies flying around inside. I felt like I didn’t want to go but I mustered up all the courage I had, grabbed my things, and got in the car. The drive felt like hours — despite only being 15 minutes — but once I arrived that’s when an overwhelming feeling hit me: I was really doing this! I got out of the car, said bye to my mum, and walked into the building very nervously. I had previously visited for my induction day, so I was a tiny bit familiar with where I had to go. However it still all felt very new. I think coming from a separate school to join a sixth form which was part of another school felt very strange, and lots of the other students had been there since year 7.
On that first day, I barely spoke. I felt alone and nervous. I was a very reserved and quiet person at the time, so I really struggled in new environments and doing things that were new. However as the days, weeks, and months went on, I began to love my new environment. The teachers were welcoming and as much as I didn’t know everyone for years like other people there, all my peers welcomed me with open arms like I'm sure they will do for you.
Making friends with your schoolmates
I became friends with students that had come from other schools as well as people from my old secondary school that I didn't know very well before. I met lots of new people and found a new group of friends that were amazing and supportive, and they really helped me to navigate my new life in this new place.
By the end of my two years there, I felt like part of the furniture despite my whole experience being disrupted by COVID-19 and lockdowns. It was an environment that really helped me flourish, and it helped me to learn lots of new things about myself. It gave me a chance to become who I wanted to be without fear of judgement as everyone was so welcoming. Plus I could wear my own clothes and wear exciting makeup! As a creative person I loved being able to express myself with my fashion choices and style, and being able to dye my hair for the first time. I also loved being able to focus on subjects I enjoyed — I studied Business BTEC (equivalent to 1 A level) and Spanish and Art A levels. Yes, before you think it, language A levels are hard, but if you’re a language nerd like me you will love it.
My advice for going into year 12
Accept that you’ll feel nervous!
I think my main piece of advice for you is to accept the nervousness! It might sound like a weird thing to say, but it’s completely normal to feel scared. New environments can be difficult to navigate, whether that’s the social environment or just the buildings themselves. If you feel lost, talk to someone — that could be your teacher, a new classmate, or someone at home. Just sharing how you feel can be really helpful.
Go beyond your comfort zone
Being pushed outside of your comfort zone will help you to build your confidence. This will really help you in the long run.
Just be yourself
My other piece of advice is to just be yourself, or who you want to be. Dress how you want (as long as you're not breaking any dress code), join the clubs you want to join, and embrace yourself exactly as you are!
For more advice, check out this blog where Kerrie shares what she wishes she’d known before starting sixth form. Just remember, that no matter your future steps — whether that’s college, sixth form, an apprenticeship, or starting a new job — you will flourish because YOU are amazing!
Looking to grow your strengths and go beyond your comfort zone? Grab your place on an NCS away from home experience today!