Making Your Options

You are never really given the chance to have a say in your future until you are 13, that's when you have to choose your options for GCSEs and believe me, it can be terrifying. Some people treat the decision as a breeze and pick whatever sounds fun, others put a lot of thought into them and try to imagine what they could do with specific qualifications. The next big decision you have to make is what you are going to do after you have finished those exams. That's even scarier.

I've now received my GCSE results and I've just started college which is really fun. Obviously, I can't help you much if you're older and are finishing school completely. I'd love to help but you guys have just got to remember to go with what feels right and you will be successful no doubt.

Before I start, I am super sorry for the lack of images in this. I've gotten rid of all of my school stuff and literally have nothing to take pictures of that is relevant to this subject. So I am so sorry for my unorganised state.

Choosing your GCSE Options

The first time I was given a chance to decide my own future, I was given a yellow sheet of paper with a lot of tables on. I remember the build up to choosing my GCSE options in Year 9, however I didn't make all of my decisions in Year 9, I had already chosen a couple of my options the year before. I attended three schools before I sat my GCSEs, my primary school, my high school and my college (this is where I sat my GCSEs). Believe me, my schools are pretty messed up, we were a high school, then an academy, then one year was held back and the academy, a neighbouring school and the college teamed up to become a trust. Now, I don't exactly know what is going on. That's not important though, what was important at the time was making my choices.

In Year 8 and Year 9 I remember my high school organising lots of trips for taster sessions at the college. I went to French, Textiles, Maths and a few others. We didn't really get a choice what session we went to, which I don't think was very fair as I did not want to do French and a few of the others I went to. However, if you get given these opportunities, take them up. Go to them, even if you don't want to take the subject at GCSE level. Textiles was one of my choices to begin with, then I went to the taster session and I was shit at sowing and didn't enjoy it at all. That's why I can't stress enough about how you should take up every offer you have about exploring different subjects - you never know which ones you are going to love and which you are going to hate. You'll come back surprised. 

I was adamant that I wanted to do Film Studies, it wasn't until I had gone to an open evening that I made my mind up that Media Studies was the way to go. I was told by the subject teacher that you study films within Media Studies, as well as a whole lot more. That's when I realised that I needed to keep my mind open as well as my options. No doubt that my dreams would change and I didn't want to tie myself down to specifics (like some others had done). 

If you feel like you haven't given a chance to explore into the subjects that you want to have a go at, go and speak to the person who deals with all of the forms and co-ordinates these trips about that. There wasn't one taster session for Media Studies, so that is exactly what I did. The next day, she had organised for me to go and sit in one of the lessons in the college, with a few friends, and have a see what it was actually like. I loved it so much! So don't think, just because there isn't a taster session you don't have a chance to test out the waters, go and ask. It's your future at the end of the day.

I am so happy with what I chose for my GCSEs because I had taken up every opportunity and had an idea of what sort of area I wanted to focus on. That's another thing, find something that you love and are enthusiastic about. You don't want to pick subjects that are boring to you as that will probably show on results day. I tried to keep my options as open as possible, I chose Media Studies, Art, CiDA/DiDA (Certificate/Diploma in Digital Applications) and History. 

That is a whole lot to take in about making your options so I'm going to bullet point it for you.




Post-GCSEs

The next big decision is what you are going to do after GCSEs are over. This is a lot more difficult than picking your options. Unlike choosing your options, you don't get given a simple sheet by your school, to fill out. You have to make your own way, my school used UCAS to help us apply to colleges. UCAS is an online application website which a lot of schools and colleges use but, I have heard from others that it isn't entirely trustworthy. It makes life so much easier though, your teacher has to give you a reference and you have to give a personal statement, apply for the course and off you go. You've done all you need to do to apply.

It most definitely isn't that simple though. I applied to every college through UCAS and directly which I am so glad for - if you apply directly, you basically cut out the personal statements, references (sometimes, one of my colleges sent a sheet for someone to give me a brief reference) and having to consistently check UCAS to see if your college has accepted you. I went to all of my interviews, and they were a breeze, so don't worry about those. I'll give you some tips for those later on. My first point is to always apply directly to the college no matter what your school tells you what to do.

There are three things that you can do after GCSEs, you can do A Levels, get an apprenticeship, or begin a vocational course. You need to decide what is best for you, find out what work ethic you're best at. If you prefer the academic route and want to follow onto university, A Levels are the way to go. If you want to focus purely on one subject to explore it more than vocational courses are probably what you should choose. And if you don't like sitting in a classroom learning than going out and getting an apprenticeship is what you should do - however most companies do make you go into a college some days.

Myself, I am an academic person but I decided that I didn't want to stay in the same college for another two years to have more stress and sit more exams. Therefore, I had a look around. You need to be partly sure of what you want to do before you make the decision, so like previous years, in Year 10 I went to a lot of open days. Unlike high school, you don't get the opportunity to have taster sessions so you need to make the most of the open days that every college has. 

I have chosen to do a vocational course at a college in town. I've decided that media id the way I want to go, but I still haven't made my mind up on what aspect of the media industry. Due to this, I picked a course that would give me the chance to explore these industries at the highest level for my age - Level 3. Level 3 is equivalent the three A Levels and so I can go to university after if I want to, I can also go into work or start a new college course. But, I did not tie myself down to just this course, I also applied for A Levels also, just in case I didn't like the course or I don't get the grades that are required. It is important not to tie yourself down.

Which leads me to my next point. You need to apply for more than one college. This is so important, I know so many people who have only applied for one college, luckily they have decided to stay at a college that knows them, but some colleges might not accept you and you will need to find a placement somewhere asap. Even if you apply to the college that you are at, for A Levels, they don't have to accept you. There are people who haven't been accepted by the college that they applied for and have had real difficulty finding a placement somewhere else. So make sure you always have at least one back up.

Again, that is a lot to take in. So I am going to summaries it all for you.



Interview Tips

I mentioned thatI would give you some tips for your interviews also. You should always remember that it is not just them interviewing you, you are interviewing them to see if they meet your own standards. For example, one of my colleges I applied for has sent me a letter almost ever month to keep me informed, whereas another has not even sent me one yet apart form my placement offer. 

When you go to the interview, there's is no doubt that you are going to have some nerves. Before you go, you need to have done your research on the college, course, apprenticeship or subjects you are applying for. When you walk into the interview room, stand tall and keep your head high. Make it appear that you are confident and ready to be apart of this placement at the college.

Some of the questions they will ask you are:
"What are some of your good qualities?"
"What do you feel you need to improve on?" 
"Do you prefer Maths or English (possibly why)?"
"Why did you apply for this college/course?"

Then they will probably ask you about if you need special requirements, if you have any disabilities, hobbies. All of these things you'll know, all you need to do is prepare yourself for the good and bad (don't stress too much about this one) qualities of yourself and you're good to go. I remember when I was asked about what qualities I need to improve on, all I said was "Can I get back to you on that?" because I hadn't prepared myself. I did manage to mention a few things but other than that, the interviewer didn't seem to fussed.

Try not to treat it as an interview, when you go in, walk in with a smile and shake their hand. When they start asking questions, just pretend that you are chatting to a friend, the person will take to you a lot more as they are pretty respectful of your nerves.

Remember, if they haven't answered any of your pending questions, such as financial help, how frequent the exams are, etc, ask them. They are more than happy to help you after all, they want you to attend their college!

I've bulleted it all for you to make it all a whole lot easier.





What options are you looking at for GCSEs or what have you already chosen?

Until next time...

4 comments

  1. This was quite helpful! Being home schooled has definitely led me down a different path in life, I'm not 100% sure what to do about college just yet. I can't wait to go to college for open days and etc.

    Abby x

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    Replies
    1. Aww, I'm so excited for you! I love college, I think that would be the best route for you as people doing A levels will have little cliques x

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