I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about my story of going to college as I faced a bit of a dilemma when I started looking at joining Activate Learning. I thought someone in my position might appreciate how I decided between A Levels at sixth form or a vocational subject at college.
GCSE was such a hard few years. It really stressed me out and it definitely pushed me down a lot. I found myself revising all the time and I just wasn’t me anymore. Now, I feel so much more like myself and I love it. The things I’m doing now for my studies are so much more practical and it’s not just about trying to remember facts or the theory of how to do things; I’m actually creating things and learning hands-on, which is way better than just revising all the time.
I always saw myself doing A levels, but I realised that with the career path that I wanted to travel, I would benefit more from going to college. I realised as soon as I went to one of the college’s open evenings and the facilities were so amazing. I remember going to school the next day and telling my friends that I was seriously considering college. It was quite emotional, as they were all set on going to sixth form, so we’d be parting ways. I’ve stayed in touch with my friends from school but I’ve also made new friends at Banbury and Bicester College too.
Everyone here is so nice, and the good thing is that you already have the same interests; everyone is on the course because they want to be there and they’ve chosen it, rather than they’ve had to do a subject like at GCSEs or had to pick another subject that they are not really keen on for A Levels.
I’m close friends with everyone on the course here and there aren’t any cliques or different groups, we’re all just friends and we get on and help each other out.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve had three main lecturers and they’ve all been so nice and supportive. They treat you like an equal, like you have your own responsibility to do things and get the work done but the main thing is that they’re also really interested in the subject they’re teaching. They have given me the knowledge I need to help me in my career, as well as to do my schoolwork.
When I went to a Banbury Open Event, I was really impressed with the facilities there. It’s this massive building with LED lights everywhere and I just thought that, if they’ve put this much effort and money into just the building; if it looks this good then they must know what they’re doing. Inside, the facilities were so amazing, and I just remember thinking that I could do such great work here. Nothing is going to limit me at this level in terms of camera quality, computers etc. At sixth form, there isn’t the kind of equipment that we have here.
The idea of working towards my career and goal in life has run through my time at Banbury College. When I first spoke to the lecturers at the open event, the thing that got me really excited to come here was talking to them about how this course was going to help me down the line. They were really knowledgeable about the different routes into production/directing careers and while they said that A Levels weren’t a bad way to go, it was better to do a vocational course and get practical experience before making the switch to university or trying to join a production unit. Throughout my course here, I’ve been building a portfolio of work and experience that I can show to potential employers or at an interview for university and that can really help me stand out above other applicants who may just have good A Level grades to show. It will be easier for me to make the transition to work or uni life having had practical experience operating equipment and working in editing suites.
I really want to get into directing or producing. My ideas are always evolving the more that I’m exposed to new work and experiences at college. Like, I have always thought of myself as attending university, and I still have that strong urge to do that, but now I’m also considering apprenticeships or internships at the BBC, and things like that, just to get more practical experience and potentially work my way up. Seeing how practical learning I’m doing at college has advanced my skills, I’m looking hard at ways to maybe combine the two; like try and get a part-time job while at a uni in London, so I can combine my studies with work experience. I know some people that have gone through the same course I’m doing at Banbury and have now gone to universities in London and they are really enjoying it.
I would say, “don’t think about what other people are doing and just do what you’re interested in.” It felt to me more socially acceptable, or more expected of me, to stay on at sixth form and do my A Levels. However, I did my research, looked at both options and came to an Open Event at Banbury College to see the place for myself before making my decision. In the end, I did what was best for me. Of course, it was more difficult to make the leap to college and it would have been easy to stay on at sixth form with my friends and do what everyone else thought was right for me, but I’m really glad that I pushed myself to come here.
I’m just really glad that I made the decision to come here as I’ve been exposed to so many new experiences, which I don’t think would have happened if I’d stayed where I was.