How To Use College Transition Day Effectively

Over the next couple of weeks, most colleges will be holding transition days, where you go to the school for the day, and participate in lessons of your choosing. You will meet subject teachers, meet people who may be in your classes from September, and get a general feel of what it is like to go to that college / sixth form. In this post, I will give you a few ways that you can use these days to make your final decision about which school to go to, decide what A-Levels you want to take, and which note taking method may be best for you during lessons.

How to make your college decision:

These days are your first real experience of college life. I think they are so vital because each school offers completely different things, and some will be better for you than others. Use transition day wisely; pay full attention to your teacher, and the structure of the lesson, because even though you may not have that specific teacher, the likelihood is the lesson structure will be similar, if not identical throughout the faculty. For example, College X may have a more time specific structure – you have 5 minutes to complete this task – where as College Y may have more of a “take as much time as you need” structure. I know that I prefer to have a specific amount of time to complete a task, so I’m leaning more towards College X, because I prefer the structure, and I feel I will learn more effectively in that manner.

Not only are lessons structured differently, but the school day as a whole may be as well. You will most likely be at the school from 9am to 3pm, and will be escorted throughout the campus to your various lessons, so you will also get a feel of the grounds, and how busy it will be, as thousands of you move all move at once. You may feel more at ease in one school than another, and that will factor into which you choose in the end. Try to make note of even the littlest of things, because they may end up being the deciding factor.

Deciding what subjects to take:

You will try out three subjects on transition day, and they will be the subjects you put on your application. If you’ve changed your mind then on the day, go to a help desk if they have one and see if it is possible for you to participate in a different lesson. Even if you can’t, don’t panic, you will be able to change your subjects on enrolment day.

You will essentially be taught your first lesson of each subject on the day, and it will allow you to get a sense of the curriculum and lesson style, so you can really see if you think you will enjoy a certain course. I think it’s best that you do some of your own research on the subject before choosing it though, and not just go off one lesson you had. Take a look at the syllabus and also at YouTube, as people will have videos about their experience and opinion on the subject. For example, I didn’t know a lot about economics so I looked up the kind of things you learn during the course and stuff like that, and I think that it will be something I enjoy, as I enjoy finance and applications in the real world, which is basically what economics is.

At one of the transition days I’m attending, I couldn’t change one of my choices from sociology to chemistry, so if I can’t change on the day, I will take the sociology and I may love it, and decide to take it over chemistry in the end.

Overall, just go in with an open mindset, and actively take part in the lesson, so you can get the most out of it. Think that each lesson you have in the certain subject is going to be similar to this one, just with different content, but I definitely recommend doing some of your own research into any course you’re thinking about choosing.

How to find a good note-taking method:

So, you’re in three 60-90 minute lessons, which gives you 3 opportunities to experiment with note taking methods. For each lesson, use a different method, and at the end of they day, look over the notes you have made, and see which one you prefer.

Obviously, this isn’t a definitive method, as you need to use a note taking style consistently to really know if it works or not, but it will give you an initial idea of what to try at first, rather than going in on your first day completely blind.

Good luck to everyone on your transition days and results day, I hope you all get the grades you want and get into your first choice college!

My A-Levels

Since around November, I’ve been really struggling to decide on what subjects I want to do at A-Level. I think I have finally made my decision, but it’s definitely not final.

First, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do 3 or 4 subjects, because I couldn’t pick between two subjects that I wanted to do, and also, I was worried that some universities would see Maths and Further Maths as just one grade, which I now know is stupid. I decided that I was going to pick 4 subjects, and drop the one that I was enjoying the least out of them.

Then it was on to picking the subjects. I knew that I wanted to do Maths and Further Maths, because I’ve wanted to be a Maths teacher since I was like eight years old, and I just love the subject overall. I was quite certain that my third subject would be Economics because I thought that the course would be quite interesting at first glance. My fourth subject was a toss-up between Criminology and Sociology. At first, I was leaning more towards Criminology, because it’s 50% controlled assessment and 50% exam, meaning I’d have less exams, which I really liked. Then I realised that my Graphics coursework at GCSE has literally been the bane of my existence for the past year, and I didn’t want to do any more coursework or controlled assessment, like I would have to in the Criminology course. But the content covered in Criminology interested me more than that in Sociology, so I really didn’t know what to do. Over time, I grew uninterested with both subjects, and decided that I didn’t want to do either. For the past like 6 months, I’ve really been enjoying my Chemistry lessons, so was sort of drawn to it as my fourth subject.

Earlier this month, I decided that I didn’t want to do four A-Levels, even though it would’ve only been for a couple of months. I’d lost interest in Economics, and was also worried that I would find it extremely boring, so dropped it entirely.

That’s really where I am at the minute with my A-Levels. Nothing is final yet, but I’m really happy with my choices: Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths.

Also, a quick tip: if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the amount of revision for all of your subjects, prioritize the subjects that you need to get a specific grade in to get onto the college course. For example, to get into the college I want to go to, I need a 7 in Maths, a 6 in Chemistry, a 5 in English Language, and 2 more 9-4s, so I’m focusing on those subjects. I’m not saying don’t revise for the subjects you don’t need, obviously do, but you definitely don’t need to do as much. Personally, I’m not going to do as much revision for History and Graphics because I’ll probably never benefit from that grade, as long as I pass, I’ll be okay with it.

How to Make Revision Timetables Using Google Calendar

Making a revision timetable can be time consuming, and blocking out the time by hand can be a nightmare. That’s why I decided to try using Google Calendar to make them, as you don’t need to draw anything out yourself, you can have it with you at all times (either on your laptop, computer or phone) and it’s a paperless system, which is amazing. It’s so easy to set up and maintain, so I’m going to show you how, using a new account I set up for the purpose of this post.

Obviously, the first thing you’re going to want to do is go onto your device (I recommend a laptop or computer for this, as it’ll be easier) and open Google Calendar. Once you’ve signed in, this is what you should see:

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Before this screenshot was taken, I did change the day that the week starts on in settings, as it starts on Sunday by default.

Once it’s open, you’ll want to click on the three buttons next to “Add Calender” and click “Create New Calendar”. Here you want to add all of the catergories of activities, for example: school, any extra-curriculars like football, personal, revision, etc. Here is mine:

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The Birthdays, Reminders and Tasks calendars are there by default. If you don’t want them in your calendar, just untick the box. You can also change the colours of the calendars into the colours you prefer.

Now it’s time to schedule in your events. I’m going to start with when I’m at school. Click on “Create” in the top corner and add the title of “School”. Now change the time to whenever you are at school, for me it’s 8:30am to 3pm. Then, click on the drop down menu next to the calendar icon and click “School” so it colour codes accordingly. Finally, click “More Options” and change “Does Not Repeat” to “Every Weekday”, and press save.

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Next I’m going to schedule in my after school intervention sessions I go to, using the same method, just selecting “Weekly on ___” instead of “Every Weekday”.

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Now, schedule any extra-curricular activities you do.

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Next, schedule any personal events in the week. For example, if you’re going to the cinema or a friend’s house.

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Finally, add anything else you need to schedule, for example doctor’s appointments.

And you’re done. Now you can clearly see how much free time you have, so you can revise effectively and efficiently.

I really hope this post has been beneficial, or even just given you the motivation to make a revision timetable. At the end of the day, everyone plans differently. Some people will prefer to have their plan on a piece of paper on line, and some will prefer just winging it and revisingn when they feel like it, rather than at a set time. And that’s completely fine.

How To Choose Your College

Being in the middle of college interviews, many students will be starting to get stressed, not knowing which college to go to. Even though, the decision doesn’t have to be made until Result’s Day, it’s nice to know that it’s all sorted, so you can focus on getting the best out of these exams.

The first thing to think of is, of course, the courses that they offer and the teachers there. Open Evenings were/are the best way to grasp this. I know that most of them have already been and gone, but a select few still have one or two in the coming months. If you haven’t talked to the subject teachers, and you have an opportunity to, highly recommend that you go and speak to them. One of the most important things on my criteria for picking the right college for me is the subject teachers, it’s essential that you are supported with teachers that will help you and support you if you don’t understand something in class or in your homework.

You also need to look at the facilities that they have at the colleges you’re thinking about enrolling at. For example, if you want to do Chemistry, you’d want to attend a college that have modern labs, as they’ll be an essential part of your course for practicals. You don’t want to go to a college that has facilities might restrict you and your performance as they don’t have what you need.

Another important thing for me is ease of travel. It’d obviously different for other people, but I don’t want to spend 45 minutes travelling to school and 45 minutes travelling home, because it’s wasting valuable time that could be spent revising or anything except travelling. Some people could use the long travelling time to get some work done, but I get easily motion sick, so it’s just not an option for me. Obviously, some time is going to have to be spent travelling, as most people don’t live practically next door to a sixth form or college. In my opinion, most of the time, it’s not going to be worth travelling for hours to and from school every day, especially if there’s an easier option.

At the end of the day, everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to a college, I’m just giving some of the things I looked for in the colleges I liked, which helped me to decide on the college I wanted to go to. Don’t get too stressed about it if you haven’t chosen somewhere yet, you have until the end of August to decide.

February Bullet Journal Set Up

January is my least favourite month of year, I just find it utterly depressing. But now it’s over! And I’m so glad.

I decided I wanted to be a bit more creative in my journal this month, so went with a really simple rose theme, as an homage to Valentine’s Day.

First is the cover page, which I simply did to take up some more room in my journal, so I can migrate into my new one, which I’m so excited for! To make this spread, I took a roll of sellotape and drew around it with a pencil. Then I drew pink dots using a Zebra Mildliner, which would be the roses, and then small green dashes around them for the leaves, using the green Mildliner from the same pack. Then I took my black Muji gel pen, and drew swirls over the dots, and small, leaf like figures over the green, and drew random lines between the flowers to connect them in a wreath-like shape.

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After the cover page is the monthly log, which I actually love setting up. It may just be me, but I love drawing grids, and I really don’t know why, it’s just so satisfying. I really don’t like how the title came out, I hadn’t really decided what I wanted to do with it, and I think it’s really ugly, but it’s only for the month so I’ll live. Each day is 6×6, and there’s 2 spaces for the header. I also made a dutch door, which is cut 7 spaces in from the right. I like this dutch door, as it limits the amount of empty, white space there is on the pages it affects. I got the spacing and the dutch door idea from Planning With Kay, I really recommend watching her YouTube videos if you don’t already, she also makes really cute stickers you may be interested in buying.

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On the other side of the dutch door is my habit tracker, which i tracking 5 habits this month. In January I actually did really well with my habits, and I was super proud of myself! There’s really nothing else to say about this spread, because it’s really simple, and doesn’t need an explanation.

Next is my study tracker, which I’ve changed quite a bit from January. This month, I’m using a bar graph, and just tracking the general amount of studying I’m doing, rather than the specific amount for each subject. I hope this will keep me more accountable for the time spent revising, and not focusing on balancing out the time spent revising each subjects. Something I learnt from the 7 Day Exam Plan is that it’s not about how long you spend revising a certain concept. You may sit reviewing for an hour, and still have no clue what that concept means, and you’ll reward yourself for just trying in that hour, rather than actually learning anything. Some concepts may click quite easily, within 10-15 minutes, but others may need a couple of hours before you understand it, so you can’t rate revision success over the time you spent revising, rather over how much you’ve learnt, or how well you’ve learnt one or two concepts within however long it took. This was in a tiny, 2-3 minute section of one of the days in the plan, and it’s helped me so much, just think about all of the other amazing tips you could get if you invest in the program! For just £50, you get 7 30-45 minute lessons, filled to the brim with the best advice to prepare you and help you for your exams. Even though they are aimed mostly at GCSE students, it can anyone at any level, as the tips can be applied to any exam situation.

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Finally, is my sleep tracker. I don’t really have an issue with getting enough sleep, I just thought it would be fun to see roughly how much I sleep. I used this same layout in August last year, so I can’t remember whose Instagram account I saw it on, which means I can’t give them credit, but I really wish I could!

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Overall, I had loads of fun setting up my spreads for this month, and I have a feeling February will be filled with laughs and good memories. I hope this months  give you everything you wish, thanks for reading!

How to Write a Personal Statement

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been writing my college applications and within that, my personal statement. I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way to sculpt a near perfect personal statement if executed correctly.

The first thing I did was bullet point all of the things I wanted to talk about, or that may be important to include. You’ll definitely find it easier to write pages about yourself if you have some sort of plan of action.

Once you have all your points, prioritise them. But your most important factors first, because schools will receive thousands of applications, so will most likely skim read most of your personal statement. They’ll focus mostly on your first couple paragraphs, so you want those to be your best attributes. My first two paragraphs were about my attendance, punctuality and aspirations, to show the colleges that I will be a valued member of their school with some idea of future goals and steps needed to reach them. One of the colleges I’m applying to has a women’s football academy that I want to join, so I made sure that I mentioned my footballing achievements  near the beginning as well.

Probably my most important bit of advice is to try to be as non-repetitive as possible, if it sounds like you’re reading off a list, then assessors will get bored and stop reading. Also, make sure your grammar is impeccable, you don’t want it to seem like you have any weaknesses, basically.

Finally, I know it’s an odd feeling making yourself sound amazing, especially if you feel like you aren’t, but everyone probably feels the same way as you. It’s something you have to do, so there’s no point putting it off, hoping you’ll magically be capable of writing one eventually. If you’re really struggling, ask your parents or your teachers to help you and give you feedback on what you’ve written already. I asked my dad to read mine for me, and he made a couple of adjustments, rewording some parts, adding details I’d missed out, etc. It was super beneficial, and he didn’t mind doing it at all.

Anyway, if you make a really good personal now, you’ll only have to add to it and tweak it a bit to apply for jobs or universities. So while it is a challenging task, it is extremely rewarding for your future, and your future self will be grateful for it.