Going to college was a whole new experience for me, I’d never even stepped foot in a college until I went to the enrolment day at Gateshead College. I was actually really scared, stressing about what I was going to wear, how I’d get there, if I’d get lost and if I’d even make any friends. I was 18 when I joined the college, so I thought I’d be the only person in my class that’s older. I was so wrong. The class was such a mix of people, not just those of who had just left school.
The differences between college and school are very apparent as soon as you step through the doors. The best thing about college is the freedom that it gives you. You can leave whenever you’d like, pop to the shop when you need something to eat and there’s even a cash machine. In college you’re trusted to do the right thing, not forced.
The learning environment is totally different too, there’s no ‘cliques’ of people. It’s totally socially acceptable to sit on your own and get on with your work or be a part of a huge group. I was both. When I knew I had work to do, I’d sit on my own to get it done, but when I wasn’t under a deadline, I could sit on the sofas with my friends chatting over a coffee from Costa.
At my school, the library was a place where you rarely ventured. It was not a study zone and was more or less used as an overspill for classes. At college it’s totally different, the library is a zone where you can go for help, sit with laptops or computers and just get your work done. The librarians couldn’t have been more helpful. The staff there are brilliant and so lovely, I often chatted to them! I love that they took my suggestion of keeping the chalk board when I asked if I could put my own quote on there.
The support and opportunities that I was given at college were completely different to school. The opportunities that are there for the taking are much better. There’s always some form of work experience, guest speaker or help provided. There’s access to careers advice whenever you need it and also a foundation that helps you out if you need financial help.
College is definitely what you make it, you have the freedom and ability to do whatever you’d like (within reason, of course) and the possibilities are endless. The support is there, you just need to grab it.