Monday, 14 July 2014

#DearYear11

I was hesitant to post a second entry the day after my first one, but when I saw #DearYear11 trending on Twitter, I couldn't help but get involved.

I have just finished my A levels and am spending this summer doing some well deserved relaxing, with an underlying tension that eats me up every time I think of results day. Results day is exactly a month away, and on that day thousands upon thousands of people my age will get an email which will have a huge influence on the next few years of their life.

In short, I did not enjoy my A levels. English Lit was my my only good class, due to my excellent teacher and 'Fem Corner' - a group of girls, including myself, who love Sylvia Plath and can't stop talking about The Great Gatsby. If I had been in another class, I suspect getting through the two years would have been much harder. For me, A levels was filled with stress, feeling inadequate, deadlines and exams. 

Reading the #DearYear11 tweets, I have come to find much of the nations teenagers feel the same way as I do - A levels are beyond tough.







After scrolling through hundreds of tweets, and chuckling to myself as I could relate to the majority of them, I was stopped in my tracks by this tweet...



Suddenly I realized, it's not just sixthformers like me reading through these tweets and laughing about the impending doom of the years below me, actual real year 11s are reading them too. Year 11s like my sister, who have just completed their GCSEs - granted, not as hard as A levels, but it's currently the hardest thing (in terms of education) that they know. So, I decided to write an open letter to my sister, and other year 11s out there, giving the honest truth about what to expect from your A levels.

Dear Year 11,

It's currently July and you are probably enjoying your extended summer holidays. The weather has been up and down, as it always is, and you may have been watching a lot of Say Yes To The Dress if you are anything like my sister.

First off, I want to say a big well done for getting through your GCSEs. Choosing subjects at 14 years old is pretty tough, and after two years you may love or despise the 9/10/11ish subjects you have completed. If you had a prom, I hope it was amazing!

Most likely, in September you will be off to complete your A levels or something similar. During this summer, you may have been given a small bit of prep-work to complete before September, and as annoying as it may be, I suggest you get it over and done with quickly. Your new teachers will have tried hard to give you something interesting to do, and if you are doing A level art it's always a good idea to get ahead on coursework whilst you can!

You might be going to the Sixthform at your secondary school, or perhaps going to a Sixthform college. Either way, you are bound to meet tons of new people which is always extremely exciting. It might shock you how different people from other schools are, and you won't be used to the way different people do things. What's exciting, is that along with all these new people will come a select few that will become your new friends! It's impossible to imagine what they will be like, but you will find out pretty soon.
Sadly, the natural thing that happens when you make new friends, is that old friends drift out the picture. It's important to cherish the memories you had with your old friends, and not hold grudges if you part ways. 

I hope the subjects you have picked to study are ones you are interested in, but if you are questioning your choices, I'm sure there is still time to change your mind. 

I'm not going to lie to you, A levels are tough, no matter what subject you pick (there is no such thing as a 'soft' A level). They are hard work, and you may begin to doubt yourself. You may feel stressed at times. You may even begin to feel hopeless. And guess what? You are allowed to feel that way. There is no shame in saying "I need help". Personally, I found turning to God helped massively with my stress - knowing God has an amazing plan for me, and loves me no matter what my grades are, is extremely comforting.

Over the next two years, it isn't just your new subjects that you will learn things from, you are going to grow up a lot this year too. Detentions are history, and now your learning is on your own shoulders. Suddenly you won't have to wear uniform anymore! And you will soon realize that making an effort every day just won't be possible. In the first few says of Year 12, I would carefully plan each outfit, making sure it was completely different to the outfit I had on the day before. Towards the end of Year 13 I spent most of my time in espadrilles (slippers pretending to be shoes), jeans and whatever T-shirt was at the top of the draw. You learn that being comfy in order to get through tough, long lessons, is more important than looking like a runway model.

I don't think I will tell you much else, because I don't want to spoil these two years for you.

Just a final thing - you are not your grades.

This Abigail

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