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A levels have been tough for me, my stress and anxiety levels are going through the roof. It doesn’t help when all of my peers/friends are going to top universities(russell groups including oxford & cambridge). I feel burnt out, loosing motivation day by day and I’m unsure on what to do. A levels seems as if it is my world in a sense that my future education/career & therefore lifestyle depends on it. I know there will always be a solution such as taking a gap year or even doing foundation. However, my thoughts towards foundation are quite bitter - imagine putting all your efforts in a levels just to end up doing foundation - as I could’ve done foundation right after my GCSEs. Any advice on possibly maintaining a better mindset?
Original post by lilbalo0
A levels have been tough for me, my stress and anxiety levels are going through the roof. It doesn’t help when all of my peers/friends are going to top universities(russell groups including oxford & cambridge). I feel burnt out, loosing motivation day by day and I’m unsure on what to do. A levels seems as if it is my world in a sense that my future education/career & therefore lifestyle depends on it. I know there will always be a solution such as taking a gap year or even doing foundation. However, my thoughts towards foundation are quite bitter - imagine putting all your efforts in a levels just to end up doing foundation - as I could’ve done foundation right after my GCSEs. Any advice on possibly maintaining a better mindset?

Hi there!

I'm so sorry to hear that you're feeling overwhelmed with your A levels. As a uni student now, I remember the stresses of going through A levels and know the feeling of burnout after continuously working so hard for so long. I would really try not to focus on what your peers are doing and what universities they are going to- your paths will all be different to success and while Russell group universities are amazing if you go to them, there are just as amazing universities out there who will specialise in the subjects which are most important for you. I know that most future employers will be looking for a degree, rather than a university.

For me, to feel more motivated, I like to plan just small little things to look forward to because when you have a positive mentality, you can focus more on the things you're not so excited to do. I also like to make sure that I don't work past a certain time in the evening so that I can relax and rest so that I am more ready for the next day. I also think that waking up early for me helps, although I don't succeed at that often, but when I do, I feel so much better and more productive for it. At the end of the day, all you can do is your best so you can't expect any more from yourself than that. Clearing at universities is always an option, or if you have found academic work too overwhelming, then taking a gap year and earning some money for university can help you to get back into the swing of things.

I think that unfortunately, comparison with others can be quite self-destructive, so perhaps it would be useful if you booked an appointment with a careers officer at college or with a tutor to discuss your options and work out together what you want to do and overcome any barriers you may be facing to your motivation.

Foundation courses are nothing to be ashamed of- they can be an extra support to getting back into the academic lifestyle and gives you a great taster of university life without it feeling too overwhelming too soon, allowing you to settle in and enjoy what the university offers whilst making new friends along the way :smile:

It's the final push now! Think about all the amazing things you can do once A levels are over and how you can spend your Summer doing whatever you wish to!

Wishing you the best of luck and hope everything goes well 🙂

Rachel- York St John Student Rep
Original post by lilbalo0
A levels have been tough for me, my stress and anxiety levels are going through the roof. It doesn’t help when all of my peers/friends are going to top universities(russell groups including oxford & cambridge). I feel burnt out, loosing motivation day by day and I’m unsure on what to do. A levels seems as if it is my world in a sense that my future education/career & therefore lifestyle depends on it. I know there will always be a solution such as taking a gap year or even doing foundation. However, my thoughts towards foundation are quite bitter - imagine putting all your efforts in a levels just to end up doing foundation - as I could’ve done foundation right after my GCSEs. Any advice on possibly maintaining a better mindset?

Hi there @lilbalo0 , I understand this period can be extremely frustrating when exams seem to consume your entire life. Instead of looking at what others are doing, it might help to set one long term study goal(eg. getting at least a B for X subject or getting into so and so course) and a few small daily goals(eg. today I will study for 20mins on X subject) for you to work towards as everything always feels impossible and overwhelming all at once!

Regarding foundation, if you are interested in an art and design related course, almost 90% of my peers continue to pursue a foundation after A-levels before coming into university. A handful even take a few years off to try out different jobs and work before deciding to continue with higher education.
Feeling lost and confused is actually very normal, there are no straight paths to any goal! I would highly recommend speaking to someone you trust about how you are feeling and lay out a simple study plan to help you compartmentalise what you can do to regain some feeling of purpose and control. Focus on what you can do and what you are good at and make a plan from there. 🙂 Even if the plan doesn't work out completely(which is totally normal), re-align and make a new one! This way at least you would have made progress instead of feeling paralysed. I hope this helps and I wish you all the best for your exams and uni journey! 🙂

Zhi En
(Kingston Student Rep.)
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by lilbalo0
A levels have been tough for me, my stress and anxiety levels are going through the roof. It doesn’t help when all of my peers/friends are going to top universities(russell groups including oxford & cambridge). I feel burnt out, loosing motivation day by day and I’m unsure on what to do. A levels seems as if it is my world in a sense that my future education/career & therefore lifestyle depends on it. I know there will always be a solution such as taking a gap year or even doing foundation. However, my thoughts towards foundation are quite bitter - imagine putting all your efforts in a levels just to end up doing foundation - as I could’ve done foundation right after my GCSEs. Any advice on possibly maintaining a better mindset?

I think you're putting too much pressure on yourself and what your mates are achieving. Exams aren't as crucially important as everyone else thinks they are. Yes, you need to get good grades in exams to have a good chance of getting into the best universities, but you don't need to be stressed about exams at all. I know that many young people are stressed about exams and what their mates get, but that's because they choose to see exams as highly important and crucial for success in life. I'll be straight with you, you don't need exams, you don't need the education system-what you need to know is there is a life out there where you can be whoever you want to be, yet colleges and universities funnel you through a path where there is stress to succeed-but success is whatever you want it to be, it's no fixed ideal.

See exams not as tests or roads to better educational success, but as quizzes of knowledge. I know this is sorta belittling an exam, but my point is you need control over what an exam is, you have to define the exam don't let the exam define you.

I think our culture is to blame for all the stress GCSE/A-level/university students accrue. You got to these institutions to learn, but you don't need the best grades and you don't need to be stressed about exams. Learn to enjoy and develop yourself, don't learn with high expectation because those high expectations may lead to significant disappointment and make you feel like you aren't good enough. Just know that you ARE good enough, but you need to be the person to take charge of how you feel about exams and education. You fail an exam? Ahh well you can retake and do better, or you can quit education and go make a better life for yourself in an environment where you matter and where you aren't compared to hundreds of other hopeful students.

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