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can i start college at 17? failed all my gcses

hi, ok so i have a long and complicated thing but i will try to keep it as simple as possible sorry i just really need advice !! i didn’t really know what form to put this in sorry.

basically, i’m 16 and just left year 11 this year in june 2023 and i am currently not in full time education. i struggled really bad in secondary school, the only gcses i sat were maths, science, and history and i got 3, 43, 2 respectively. i had undiagnosed autism and didn’t get my official diagnosis untill after i’d already left, which is the main reason why i struggled so much because my teachers just refused to give me that extra help / support i needed and i didn’t know how to explain what i needed because i didn’t know what was “wrong” with me. i already had a diagnosis of social anxiety that i got in year 9, but even then they refused to give me any support with that too. i also moved out of my toxic and abusive household right after leaving year 11 and there were just so many things that i needed to adjust to and deal with that there was no way that i’d be able to start college / sixth form in the september.

it’s never been about me avoiding college because i’m “lazy” or anything like that like i genuinely do want to go but like i just don’t feel like i’d be able to handle it after what my secondary school experience was and i’m just so scared that it’s going to be the same that i am literally almost crying whilst writing this and thinking about it 😭 i’ve had a few interviews for apprenticeships but those are so scary as well and like i just feel so… useless? like i know that i’m 16 and i shouldn’t be like this but i dont know like i feel like things are moving too fast and i’m not ready for them but i want to push myself to do these things because i feel like i have to as it’s expected. does that even make sense lol??

basically i just get scared thinking about what my life will be like 5-10 years and i don’t want to be living on the dole i do actually want to be successful in life but because of my mental health i just can’t seem to.

anyway yeah, ive been looking at colleges near me and there’s a t level course in childcare / early years education that i’m thinking of applying for for september 2024. i want to become a senco i think, but i also don’t mind being like just a normal nursery nurse. just working with children in general tbh. i did do childcare for gcse it was like a technical award but i think my exam got disqualified because i didn’t have a result in my gcse results paper like the subject wasn’t even there. there’s an open evening in february 2024 that i might go to but idk i just feel so lost and like will they even accept me?? i barely have any gcses and obviously i will have had a year off and i don’t know im not even being dramatic when i say this but i feel like i have ruined my life already and am just gonna be a huge failure

please be nice xxx
I think you might need some functional skills first which you can do in collage the open evening is a good start an your local Connexions on National careers service would also be worth while talking to. bad GCSE's are hard (I had poor grades too for different reasons to you.). I had poor grades but after 4 years (yes it might take that long) at collage I got into uni and graduated my point is I got there and you will too.
Original post by elizadelslay
hi, ok so i have a long and complicated thing but i will try to keep it as simple as possible sorry i just really need advice !! i didn’t really know what form to put this in sorry.

basically, i’m 16 and just left year 11 this year in june 2023 and i am currently not in full time education. i struggled really bad in secondary school, the only gcses i sat were maths, science, and history and i got 3, 43, 2 respectively. i had undiagnosed autism and didn’t get my official diagnosis untill after i’d already left, which is the main reason why i struggled so much because my teachers just refused to give me that extra help / support i needed and i didn’t know how to explain what i needed because i didn’t know what was “wrong” with me. i already had a diagnosis of social anxiety that i got in year 9, but even then they refused to give me any support with that too. i also moved out of my toxic and abusive household right after leaving year 11 and there were just so many things that i needed to adjust to and deal with that there was no way that i’d be able to start college / sixth form in the september.

it’s never been about me avoiding college because i’m “lazy” or anything like that like i genuinely do want to go but like i just don’t feel like i’d be able to handle it after what my secondary school experience was and i’m just so scared that it’s going to be the same that i am literally almost crying whilst writing this and thinking about it 😭 i’ve had a few interviews for apprenticeships but those are so scary as well and like i just feel so… useless? like i know that i’m 16 and i shouldn’t be like this but i dont know like i feel like things are moving too fast and i’m not ready for them but i want to push myself to do these things because i feel like i have to as it’s expected. does that even make sense lol??

basically i just get scared thinking about what my life will be like 5-10 years and i don’t want to be living on the dole i do actually want to be successful in life but because of my mental health i just can’t seem to.

anyway yeah, ive been looking at colleges near me and there’s a t level course in childcare / early years education that i’m thinking of applying for for september 2024. i want to become a senco i think, but i also don’t mind being like just a normal nursery nurse. just working with children in general tbh. i did do childcare for gcse it was like a technical award but i think my exam got disqualified because i didn’t have a result in my gcse results paper like the subject wasn’t even there. there’s an open evening in february 2024 that i might go to but idk i just feel so lost and like will they even accept me?? i barely have any gcses and obviously i will have had a year off and i don’t know im not even being dramatic when i say this but i feel like i have ruined my life already and am just gonna be a huge failure

please be nice xxx

Hi @elizadelslay

I know it's easier said than done but please don't let your secondary school experience stop you from applying to college. Getting an interview for an apprenticeship is something you should be very proud of, you should not be feeling useless - the employers clearly see something in you for them to have given you one! It's normal to be feeling like life is moving fast, I felt exactly the same - going from GCSEs to college / sixth form is a big change and means you're taking the first steps into independence and adult life.

Definitely go to the open evening - you might find that you like it and the course offered is perfect for you or you might find that the course is for you but the college isn't - it will give you a starting point and something to work with. Also, lots of colleges will offer level 1 and 2 courses too so if your results mean you don't meet the requirements for the t-level you can always look into these.

If going into college due to your social anxiety is a barrier, have a look at online courses. Obviously I can't say what your local colleges will provide but here in Lancashire there are online courses which may be of interest and you could look into whether you could do the Lancashire ones of where you are due to it all being taught online. Here's the link for reference - Childcare and Education LAL Lancashire Adult Learning

Lots of people start college after 16 - people who started a-levels and realised they weren't for them, people starting courses but wanting to change, adults who want to return to education etc. and from personal experience I can assure you, that being older means nothing!

Hope this helps, Ella (Lancaster University Student Ambassador)
Original post by Lancaster Student Ambassador
Hi @elizadelslay

I know it's easier said than done but please don't let your secondary school experience stop you from applying to college. Getting an interview for an apprenticeship is something you should be very proud of, you should not be feeling useless - the employers clearly see something in you for them to have given you one! It's normal to be feeling like life is moving fast, I felt exactly the same - going from GCSEs to college / sixth form is a big change and means you're taking the first steps into independence and adult life.

Definitely go to the open evening - you might find that you like it and the course offered is perfect for you or you might find that the course is for you but the college isn't - it will give you a starting point and something to work with. Also, lots of colleges will offer level 1 and 2 courses too so if your results mean you don't meet the requirements for the t-level you can always look into these.

If going into college due to your social anxiety is a barrier, have a look at online courses. Obviously I can't say what your local colleges will provide but here in Lancashire there are online courses which may be of interest and you could look into whether you could do the Lancashire ones of where you are due to it all being taught online. Here's the link for reference - Childcare and Education LAL Lancashire Adult Learning

Lots of people start college after 16 - people who started a-levels and realised they weren't for them, people starting courses but wanting to change, adults who want to return to education etc. and from personal experience I can assure you, that being older means nothing!

Hope this helps, Ella (Lancaster University Student Ambassador)
hi sorry for late reply i did go to the open evening and i applied for a level 1 course because that was what they told me i could do but now im struggling with like idk i wrote an email like about support thing’s basically in the email i asked like if it would be able for them to get in contact with my seccondary school to like sort out support things because i physically cant not do it myself but i haven’t send it off yet cause im scared about what i wrote in it and that they are gonna like turn around and be like oh we cant help you sorry and idk im scared **
Original post by elizadelslay
hi sorry for late reply i did go to the open evening and i applied for a level 1 course because that was what they told me i could do but now im struggling with like idk i wrote an email like about support thing’s basically in the email i asked like if it would be able for them to get in contact with my seccondary school to like sort out support things because i physically cant not do it myself but i haven’t send it off yet cause im scared about what i wrote in it and that they are gonna like turn around and be like oh we cant help you sorry and idk im scared **
Hi,

I'm glad to hear you went to the open evening and have applied for a course. Just doing that is a huge step and you should be very proud of yourself!

I understand you are finding it hard to send your email and it is far easier said than done but explaining your situation and asking for the necessary support early on will really be of benefit. Colleges have a duty of care and are expected to put provisions in place to support each and every student they have so please do not worry about them being unable to help you. If possible try and find contact details for their additional learning support team, safeguarding team or for your tutor (if you know who this will be) and they should be more than willing to help you. Even just asking them for advice on what they can do for you and seeing what options you have will put your mind at ease so even though sending the email itself is a scary thought the result should be a hug relief for you.

Hope this helps,
Ella (Lancaster University Student Ambassador)
Hey I just want to give some encouragement!

I don't go to this college but I was in a very similar position to you, I had 2 GCSEs because of covid and hadn't attended classes/school for a few years because of issues related to my mental health.

I did a level 1 in health and social care, built up to a level 3 and I'm in my final year now, I'm actually doing pretty well in the course now. I'm going to uni next year and my predicteds are all As. I could have never imagined this when I was in your position.

There are a few people on my course that couldn't sit their GCSEs that are successful in level 3, I feel like level 1 and 2 gave us the space to recover and mature more than some of the students that joined straight into level 3.

You haven't screwed up your life, you're far from it.

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