Read four inspirational stories from the #NoStressSuccess campaign…
“A-Levels weren’t for me. For me, success is being happy and loving what you do”
Keona, aged 18
Studying: Music Production at The MET
Went to: Millais, Horsham
Qualifications obtained at school: 9 GCSEs and 3 AS Levels
“I struggled quite a lot with GCSEs but I still did quite well in them. I was a good student but I hated exams.
After I got my GCSE results everyone said ‘get over your exam phobia and go and do A-Levels’. But A-Levels weren’t for me. I did a year and then left to come to The MET to do music production.
The college environment is much more relaxed. They still push you to do well but they also make it ok to mess up and learn from your mistakes.
GCSEs are not as important as people make them out to be, they’re not the only path to get you to where you want to go in life. For me, success is being happy and loving what you do.”
“I was so stressed my behaviour changed and I even fainted”
Zennor, aged 17
Studying: Carpentry and Joinery at The MET
Went to: Chatsmore Catholic High School, Goring
Qualifications obtained at school: 2 GCSEs
“I found my GCSEs really stressful. I was so stressed my behaviour changed and I even fainted. I’m not good with pressure. So many teachers wanted me to do well but even though I was a good student I didn’t do very well in my exams.
While you’re revising and during the exams my advice would be eat well, drink lots of water and when you’re not revising hang out with your friends and family – basically do anything that’s not about school. And once they’re done they’re done.
Get over your GCSEs as soon as you can and get to college because it’s a happy time. And you can always take your GCSEs again if you need to.
College is much more laid back. They let us have fun as well as learn. It’s much less stressful. And you don’t have to have a goal. I’ve got a goal but I’m just not sure what it is yet! I’m going with the flow and I’m happy and that’ll do for now.”
“You’re going to fail at some things and be good at others. Focus on stuff you’re good at”
Ryan, aged 20
Studying: Level 3 Film at The MET
Went to: Blatchington Mill, Hove
Qualifications obtained at school: none
“I have autism and I found my GCSEs really hard. Unfortunately, when I sat my GCSEs in Year 11 I didn’t do well so I stayed at school another year to resit some of them. But, to be honest, that didn’t go any better.
“I applied to The MET to do film because films have always been my passion and making films is all I’ve ever wanted to do. Since starting here I’ve managed to get a B in my English GCSE and I’m working towards getting my maths too. But more importantly, coming here has let me excel at what I do best and I’ve got straight distinctions in all my film modules.
“Being at college has also helped me be more independent, more mature and be myself. When I first came here I didn’t know anyone and I was nervous but once you’re in, you’re in and your school days are behind you. This is your second chance and you can start over. If I could go back and give my 16-year-old self some advice I would say you’re going to fail at some things and be good at other things, so focus on the stuff you’re good at.”
“No one knows exactly what they want to do yet. And that’s ok”
Mariah, aged 17
Studying: Travel and Tourism BTEC at The MET
Went to: Tanbridge House School, Horsham
Qualifications obtained at school: 8 GCSEs
“My GCSEs were very stressful. I revised every night but I made a set time every day to revise – 4-6pm – and then I’d go out with my friends and have a complete break from it. Then I’d do a bit more at 8pm before I went to bed.
When I woke up on GCSE results day I was really nervous – I felt really sick. But when I opened up my results I was so surprised and happy.
Once you leave school, GCSEs help you but they’re not always needed – you don’t necessarily need them to do what you want. As long as you’ve got skills and other things that you’re good at you can work towards what you want to do without GCSEs.
I don’t have an end goal yet but I know what direction I want to go in and what industry I want to work in – the travel industry. Now that I’m at college I realise everyone’s in the same boat – no one knows exactly what they want to do yet. And that’s ok.”