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Things our students wish they knew before starting college

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Article written by student Ellen Fisher

Some of our students and teachers have offered their advice and help to guide you through your first steps at college. These are things they wish they knew before they started.

Don’t let the work build up!

Lots of our students suggested this. You can get quite a lot of work per week at college, and it can often feel like it builds up quite quickly, especially if you don’t keep on top of it. Some ways to keep on top of it might be:

Buying a planner to organise your time.

  1. Getting your summer work done in good time, so you feel prepared.
  2. Using your free periods and doing little bits of it often.
  3. Working with your friends in your class to share ideas and help each other.
  4. Take your teacher’s advice! They know the course best and can really help you. Don’t be scared to ask questions you can always ask after your class if you don’t feel ready to talk in lessons.

Of course, if the work does get too much, you can always ask for a small extension to get it done; lots of the teachers prefer that you get it done well a few days later than not finish it at all within a tighter deadline.


Get prepared with the equipment you need!

We have another article on exactly what you need but depending on your subject you might need something a little different.

  1. Don’t buy too much! Start with just paper, ring binders, pens and the suggested text books. Your teachers will tell you what else on your first day so you still have time to get everything.
  2. Make sure you have a bag big enough for everything, and one that you can carry around easily.
  3. Bring snacks (and water)! We do have the food centre but while you work out the rest of the college too it’s important to make sure you have lots of energy and stay hydrated.


Look at your transport options!

The Long Road website can be a good place to start with this, because often public transport to and from college can get a little pricey! Many companies offer a discounted price for transport but you often have to look or ask for it. Some advice for transport:

  1. Looking on a company’s website to see if they have student prices.
  2. Buy weekly, monthly or termly tickets to save a bit of money for the same amount of journeys.
  3. Test out your journey before your first day. Most are fairly straight forward, but it just takes off one worry from your first day, and try to test it at the time you will be on the day.
  4. Buses and trains can be packed at peak times! Try to get the earlier bus or train, it may take less time when it’s quieter but everyone is rushing around to get to college most days!

Transport costs may also be covered by bursaries for certain students. Check with the college if you’re eligible to access these funds.

Meeting new people isn’t as bad as you think!

It can seem really daunting coming to a college as there are lots of new people. Try to remember that everyone is in the same position. Some ways to make new friends could be:

  1. Talk to everyone. Yes, everyone. Even asking how someone’s day is can help.
  2. Talk to people in your classes, you all take the same subject so start from there.
  3. Be you! There are so many people in college, there will be people you get on well with and people you don’t. The best way to find your people is to be yourself.
  4. Don’t worry about groups changing or leaving a group. You will likely have lots of different friends because you won’t all have the same timetable. Try to branch out and say hi to anyone who looks a little lonely.
  5. Everyone feels anxious about starting sixth form, whether they look it or not. Try to remember that you’re not alone. And remember to smile, even if you don’t feel like it.

Make use of the support available

College and life in general isn’t always easy. Asking for a bit of extra support, whatever it is, is always okay. If you’re not sure where to get help, speak to your progress coach, they will know where to go or email Remember it’s always okay to take a break or need some extra help, prioritise yourself. Here are some ways you can get help if you need it:

  1. Academic support: Your teachers, your progress coach, head of departments.
  2. Mental health support: ALWAYS put your mental health first. You can email or if you need support, or speak to your progress coach or teachers.
  3. Home/social and friends support: Progress coaches can help, or the emails for Mental health support. You can also speak to Dawn and Julie in the student centre.

College is very important but it’s also important to look after yourself too. Make sure you talk to someone if you need support, Long Road has a great support system, and it’s always good to make use of it.