Second year student, Natalie Barlow, talks candidly about her first year at the College.

I’m not going to lie, it was quite a scary step to take to leave my high school and come here. You’ve known your high school teachers for years, but for me, I knew I needed a fresh start. Everyone starting here is in the same boat too – we’re all somewhere new.


It’s a lot different to high school. In school, you’ve still got the set friendship groups and the ‘popular’ people, but here, no one really cares about that stuff. Everyone is actually just really friendly to each other, and that made it so easy to make friends. You meet the people in your tutor groups and lessons, and there are so many clubs to get involved with that meeting people’s never an issue, especially in your first few weeks. It’s genuinely good fun!


I still did call my teachers ‘sir’ or ‘miss’ for a bit but then you just get used to calling them by their first names. It makes it feel like there’s mutual respect between you and the teachers. They want to help you and you build a nice connection with them. It’s a nicer way to learn and you enjoy the lessons a lot more. Wearing a uniform in school was never that big a deal to me, but I read before I came that the College doesn’t believe that a uniform makes you successful. I thought that’s a really good attitude to have because you’re just concentrating on the important stuff in a place where you can be comfortable. 


I love the fact that I feel like an adult here. Not feeling pressured and hassled to work makes me want to work more. In high school where you can’t leave in your frees, you don’t want to learn because you’re forced to be there. Everyone here has that freedom and that makes you want to get on with it and it makes you want to succeed and excel.


If you are nervous about moving or you’re unsure, then I’d say definitely go for it, because if you really wanted to stay at your high school then there wouldn’t be any doubt in your mind. I remember the first day that I came here I wasn’t sure, but it’s just nerves and before long you just love it. It might be nerve-racking at first, but stick with it and you’ll love it!