Back to School Q&A

A couple of weeks ago I asked for advice and questions around the ‘back to school’ theme on the new Instagram questions feature (click here if you don’t already follow my Instagram) and, as always, my followers did not disappoint. As a bit of a warning before we start…this is going to be one huge post because I wanted to answer all of the questions that I was given and not leave anyone out! In addition to that, all of the questions will be anonymous even though I could see who wrote them on the feature, because some of them seem quite personal and I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable with their name being shared. 

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Anyway… back to the questions! 

What are you taking at university? 

Im taking PPE, which is politics, philosophy and economics. My heart lies with economics but I thought that I would get bored with just studying one subjects, so I thought to make it a joint honours with subjects that I have never done before but interest me. It will definitely push me out of my comfort zone academically! As far as location goes, I am going to the university of Leeds. It was the perfect choice for me really as I love the city, its far enough away from home to move out but close enough to come home whenever I want (as I am a homegirl at heart) and the university just felt right to me. 

What is your biggest tip for someone going into year 13? 

I have actually wrote a whole post about this last week so click here to be redirected to over there but my biggest tip would be to attend everything. I really saw a change in my grades when I started attending extra sessions that my teachers were putting on for me. Yeah I know its painful giving up your lunchtime or a Saturday morning to sit in a classroom and work but in the long run it is so useful and you will see a difference in your grades because you are getting more specific and student led teaching. It gives you a dedicated time to use your teachers, as they are the most valuable resource that you have! 

How did you choose your university? How did you know it was the right one? 

This is a weird one to explain but trust me, when you know you know. You just get a gut feeling that it is the right university for you and then please stick with it.  I thought that I would never find a university that I liked (for a long time I was adamant that I would never go at all) so when I finally found Leeds, I just knew it felt right for me. As far as choosing a university goes, my biggest tip would be to attend as many open days that you can. Don’t get me wrong it is a lot of travelling but it makes you so much more well informed and more confident that you made the right decision. There was a uni that I 100% thought would be the university for me then I went to the open day, cried a total of 4 times, and decided it definitely wasn’t the university of my dreams! The moral of that story is learn from my mistakes and definitely make sure that you have been to the university before you apply to it. 

What were you A levels? 

My A levels were geography, economics, sociology and business. I would definitely recommend them all! 

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How do you deal with exam stress?

With great difficulty! No but in all seriousness I do not deal with exam pressure very well, I am naturally a pessimistic person so I always think the worst and often come out of exams more stressed than when I went in! My biggest tip would be to try and detach yourself and your emotions as far as possible away from exams, almost put your body into autopilot and just do it. I often feel like exams are an out of body experience which is actually really useful when it comes to maintaining quite a calm feeling. My other tip would be to try and get as much sleep as possible. Your brain works so much better when you have had enough sleep and although it is difficult to get to sleep if you are nervous, it is definitely for your own good if you try to get 8 hours sleep before an exam. 

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Im really nervous that I won’t make any friends when I got to college, any tips? 

Trust me, you will! I thought that but I ended up with a good group of people around me, and although there was definitely friendship drama (when isn’t there?), we are a pretty tight group and I know who my friends are. My tips for making new friends would be to just talk to people! The person in the corner of the classroom would probably really appreciate you going over and having a chat, so do it! Try to be chatty and approachable, and i’m sure that people will react in that way back. I met my college bestie because we both had the song September by Earth, wind and fire stuck in our heads in one of our very first business lessons… you make friends in the weirdest of ways at college! 

What was your hardest GCSE? 

I am very much a social science/humanities kinda gal so anything science based goes right over my head. For that reason I would say that science was my hardest GCSE (chemistry in particular) although, like most people, I also hated French! I find that subjects I am interested in I typically do better in, which does make sense. 

How to cope with results day? I’m so nervous! 

Obviously this was asked before results day happened, although I knew that this post was scheduled for later on so I did message her privately with my advice. I think that I might do a whole post next year on how to cope with results day, as now that I have had 2 huge exam results days I feel experienced enough to pass on my advice! 

What should I take at A level? 

That is 100% your choice and only you should decide that, not me or your parents or you teachers. You have to study your subjects for 2 years and they ultimately shape what your degree will be, so you need to choose something that you like and are interested in. Educate yourself on the different options and research the subjects that you are interested in a little more, to make sure that you are making the right choice! My teachers were really pushing me to take maths at A level but I completely ignored them and chose the subjects that I loved, and it was definitely the best decision for me as I enjoyed studying unlike a lot of my friends that took maths and hated it. If you do want to know more about the individual subjects that I took and how I found them then I will link 4 posts below where I have an in depth discussion about each A level and what I liked/disliked, it would be a useful post to read if you are considering taking any of the subjects that I did.  

Business

Geography 

Economics 

Sociology

Should I continue with 4 A levels like you did? 

I have actually written a whole post about this, which is a very niche subject but if you need it then I do think it would be a useful one to read before making a decision. ‘4 A levels: the good, the bad and the ugly’. 

What were your GCSE grades? 

5A’s and 5A*’s. 

What did you do when teachers put lots of pressure on you? I have got so much homework to do over the summer and we haven’t even gone back yet. 

Honestly I completely feel for you, teachers are really good at putting pressure on students when it is really unnecessary and more counter productive than useful! I would obviously try to get all of your homework done but if you do feel like it is too much, then don’t feel ashamed to talk to your teachers. If you feel like this, the chances are other people feel like it to. The teacher maybe just made and honest mistake and didn’t realise how much work there was or how difficult it was. Keep communicating with your teachers but equally communicate with your classmates. Group chat are so useful in situations like this, as not only can you all moan together but you can also help each other with summer homework. Sometimes in our classes we used to take 2 questions each from the worksheet and it got the homework done 10x as quick! 

What are your stationery essentials? 

I loved this question as I am such a stationery addict and I love buying/using new products. I would say that my essentials are: 

Pastel highlighters 

A good planner (I love my bullet journal but whatever works for you) 

Good quality pens 

Fineliners for making pretty notes and colour coding your work 

Good quality ring binders- the WHsmith ones are the most expensive but by far the best I have tried. 

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So there are all of the questions, I’m so glad I did this post as I love answering your questions and actually talking about what you want to know! This has been made so much easier with the new feature on Instagram, I will definitely be using it again if I do another post like this. 

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