ADVICE AHEAD OF YEAR 11
1. BE SELFISH
When you are thinking about your future, and your options for after GCSEs, make sure that you are making the right decisions for you.
Although it may be tempting to go to the sixth form or college that your friends are going to, or choose the same courses as them, don't forget that this is YOUR future. You need to take the path that is best for you and your goals and make your own decisions.
If they are true friends, they will still be your friends regardless how often you see each other, or the institution you choose to attend.
2. LOOK AT EVERY ROUTE TO YOUR FUTURE
There are lots of different ways to get into the same career, make sure you check all of them as one may be a better fit for you. For example, we offer the same subjects as an A Level or a BTEC, so depending on whether you prefer exams or coursework, one may be better suited to you than the other.
If you feel a door is closed to one route (due to a disappointing GCSE grade for example), do some research, there may well be other ways to get to the same place.
Some degree courses or apprenticeship providers don't mind what A Level/Level 3 BTEC courses you have taken previously, but simply ask that you have achieved certain grades. Check university websites for the entry criteria for courses you may be interested in - it may surprise you!
This means that you don't have to decide too early what you want to go on to next. If you're not sure what career you'd like to go on to, select courses which will showcase your skills and talents and that you will achieve the best results in.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH
There are lots of high school and college options open to you in Cardiff. Make sure you research all of them and make an informed decision.
Look at their websites, get a feel for what's on offer and then attend the open days. We can't stress this enough. There is no replacement for speaking to staff and students and getting a real feel for the institution. Websites can give you the facts, but you also have to be sure that you're going to be happy going into sixth form or college every day, and the best way to do that is to visit the campuses and make an informed decision.
St David's offers two big open days in November, and then smaller open afternoons from January to May - there are plenty of opportunities to have a look around!
4. ACCEPT ADVICE & SUPPORT...
Your teachers know you pretty well by now, they have also been through the system themselves, and have helped many students before you make important decisions about their futures. Speak to them about career options, paths to different careers, what they think you're suited to, etc.
As well as asking for their advice on your options, ask them how they got to where they are. If there is a relative or family friend working in the industry that you want to go in to, speak to them too! They may have some helpful advice, or may even be able to provide you with a day or two of work experience with them.
...FROM ST DAVID'S BEFORE YOU START HERE
When you apply to us you will be invited to a Guidance Session. This is where a member of staff discusses all the options with you (and your parents/guardians if you wish), and ensures that the courses you have signed up for will lead you to where you want to go. We will have this chat with you after you apply, and again at enrolment after GCSE results so you have plenty of time to make your mind up!
...FROM ST DAVID'S WHILE YOU'RE WITH US
We are here to support you every step of the way. Your teachers want to see you do the best you can, so speak to them if you're struggling to keep up or if you don't quite understand something.
You will also be allocated a tutor (Learner Coach, as we call them), who you will meet with for at least an hour a week, and they will be in charge of your general wellbeing. They are there to speak to if you have any issues, and they will also be keeping an eye on your attendance and College work deadlines to make sure you don't fall behind.
Finally, we have a dedicated Learner Support Team who are available to you at all times. Whether you need to see them every week for an ongoing issue, or whether you only speak to them once in your time here, the LSC team are there to provide emotional and educational support, whenever you need them.
5. EVERYONE IS IN THE SAME BOAT
Every year we take students from over 40 schools across Cardiff and beyond. Some may be the only person from their high school, some may come with 100 others. Either way, you will all be mixed up together in your tutor groups and lessons and chances are that lots of people around you won’t know anyone else either.
They may not look it, but everyone will be anxious about starting at a new place and meeting new people. Someone may be grateful for a smile or a friendly introduction on the first few nervous days at College, so muster up a little bit of courage and get the friend-making ball rolling!
Read more about this on our Leaving Friends From High School blog post.
6. LEARN LESSONS OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
St David's has so much to offer outside of the classroom, and we're keen that all students take advantage of these opportunities. Not only does it impress universities and employers if you have taken part in extra-curricular activities, it is also a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, make new friends, and to learn something new.
St David's offers a huge number of trips, talks, clubs, hands-on sessions, sports, and much more. We will email all students about all of the enrichment activities on offer through the year, but it will be up to you to take the opportunities offered and sign up for them.
These activities and talks will usually be free and will certainly be harder to come by once you leave St David's, so grab these opportunities while you can!