I couldn’t imagine a better two years with better people at my side.
We interviewed TJ, a recent SGA Sixth Form Alumna and Oxford University offer-holder, to hear her honest reflections on life at the St George's Sixth Form.
To find out more about what St George's can offer your daughter, speak to a member of our Admissions team.
Tejasvi, or TJ as she’s affectionately known, joined St George’s in the First Year (Year 7) from Eton End, one of our consistently strong feeder schools. She has always been an incredibly able, conscientious student and her hard work in Sixth Form has been rewarded with a conditional offer from Hertford College, Oxford to read Economics and Management.
We caught up with TJ recently to talk about the benefits of completing an EPQ project in her Lower Sixth year, how she was supported through her Oxbridge application and also how she has managed academic challenges and dealt with her worry about change.
Which year did you start at St George’s?
I joined in the First Year from Eton End school with six other girls. We weren’t from the same friendship group but we’re a lot stronger friends now than we were then.
Moving forward a few years, what A Levels did you choose?
I started with Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Further Maths. Now we’re down to Maths, Economics and Chemistry. The change from Biology to Economics was made two weeks in - I just realised it was not for me - and then I dropped Further Maths half way through the year. I just got really stressed, I had House debating and I had to write all the speeches and the pressure was building and I just thought ‘No, this pace and quantity of work is not for me!’ It was great to be able to adapt as things progressed. I feel really happy with my choice now.
What were some of the things that were on your mind in advance of entering the sixth form? What were you looking forward to, what were you worried about?
I was looking forward to the increase in freedom. I was looking forward to enjoying Loveday (the Upper Sixth boarding house) as it had recently been renovated, but I was worried about new people joining. I hate change! It was all quite daunting, even though it was the same school, that’s why I can’t imagine leaving. With new people joining I thought, ‘You’re going to change friendship groups, people will fall out’ but one of my closest friends now joined in Sixth Form! So actually my fears were unfounded.
So how did you find the transition into the sixth form?
Honestly I underestimated how hard it was going to be academically. Lower Sixth was pretty good but Upper Sixth was a whole new ball game, it was just really hard.
How did the school support you when things were academically difficult?
I cried to my Head of Year about ten times but he didn’t even blink an eye! (she laughs) He said, ‘You’re the fifth person to come to me today TJ, everyone is in the same boat.’ The teachers’ and students’ support is so helpful, everyone’s going through it. Previous Sixth Formers had said before they left that the leap from Lower Sixth to Upper Sixth is quite hard! It’s good to know what to expect, to not be surprised by it, and we’re trying to help the Fifth Year understand that now.
What were the perks of being in the sixth form?
Lower Sixth was so much fun, we had The Cafe (Sixth Form room) and everyone got on so well. It had maybe been a bit cliquey in the Fifth Form as it always is, but by the Sixth form everyone just grew up a bit and we had so much fun hanging out together.
I started boarding in Upper Sixth so I guess having a room, my own bed and being able to escape during the day. I also really enjoyed the space in my timetable that study periods give especially once I was doing just the three A levels. I enjoyed the EPQ (the Extended Project Qualification is an independent research task). There was freedom to do the work you wanted to do and teachers trusted you to just get on, they didn’t follow you up on every single thing.
There was freedom to do the work you wanted to do and teachers trusted you to just get on.
Tell us a bit more about epq.
I did mine in Lower Sixth on an economics topic of ‘Black Wednesday; a Blessing in Disguise?’ It was quite stressful but it wasn’t too bad because you have such a long time to do it and you always have the Project Lead to support. She was so helpful, replying to all your emails really quickly and you can always go and talk to her in her office if you need support.
One of my offers from uni has gone down because I achieved an A* in my EPQ and that counts towards your UCAS points. The Project Lead puts on support lessons helping you understand how to research, how to reference which we hadn’t done before and then we have a Supervisor to help as well. My Supervisor helped me to do the things I found difficult to do like setting a timetable for the duration of the project. While I was in Spain over the summer, my Supervisor sent a total revision of my work, I can’t believe how hard she worked for me!
One of my offers from uni [was] because I achieved an A* in my EPQ and that counts towards your UCAS points.
What three things would you tell a friend if she were thinking about joining St George’s in the sixth form?
A major recommendation is the people in your year, everyone is so welcoming and warm even if you’re new. Can I say the food? It’s always amazing throughout the school. In the Sixth Form, you get to cut the queues in tuck shop and at lunchtime so you have a lot more access to the food and the coffee machines! I would also explain how your relationship changes with the teachers.
You enjoy small classes early on in the school, but once you get to Sixth Form, not that they don’t respect you before, but they treat you more like adults. It’s more personal and you can go to them with anything. It feels like you receive as much as you give.
What have been your stand out moments or funniest memory from the sixth form?
I enjoyed the pamper nights in Loveday and all the Christmas events are really fun. I’ve enjoyed everyday life, honestly, it’s just so much better than the other years. You dread that you are leaving really.
What will you miss?
The people most definitely because our year is so close. Doing science, really lame I know! Obviously you choose one subject for uni, but then you lose all the others so you don’t have as much diversity in what you learn. Also your teachers knowing you, having the close relationships with all the staff, it’s just great.
How do you feel St George’s has helped you prepare for applying for Oxbridge? Also more broadly for life beyond school?
From the start of the Lower Sixth, the Deputy Head sent out an email saying if you’re even considering applying to Oxbridge then meet me and we’ll go through it so we had regular meetings after that. We talked about what colleges we were thinking of and they were constantly asking us what we were thinking and where we had got to with plans. We had interview preparation with an external person from St Mary’s, Ascot, that was before we had even been given an interview. The personal statement help was massive! So many people went through it, my subject specific teachers, my tutor would go through it, there was no stone left unturned when it came to our UCAS applications.
One real benefit of quarantine was #SGAprepared. It was really helpful, we learnt about finances in general, how to manage your bank account. We had talks about getting ready for university, on what you should pack or take. We had talks on LGBT, just greater awareness in general. We had a lot of external speakers talking about Linkedin and writing CVs. It just felt as though we were being made ready.
So you think you’re ready for change?
I don’t think I’ll die! (she says wryly) I’ve even learnt to cook a little bit in this period.
If you could sum up the experience of being a part of the sixth form family at St George’s in one sentence what would it be?
While Sixth Form can be a trying time academically, I couldn’t imagine a better two years with better people at my side.