Small Fish, Big Pond: Moving From a Tiny Sixth Form to Warwick
I went to a tiny sixth form in Norwich. It only opened in 2013 – that is, my first day of Year 12 was the first day my school had been open. Due to delays in the planning process, we didn’t have a school building on that first September day, and we wouldn’t move into the proper building until March. Instead, we were spread over the top two and a half floors in an office block – we shared our staircase with IBM. It was pretty cramped and the temporary walls were pretty thin, but if I could go back in time, I’d absolutely do it again. The teachers and staff were wonderful, and I made an amazing group of geeky mathsy friends.
Everyone knew everyone in my sixth form, and once we moved to our proper building (a converted fire station, complete with the original poles!), we had an awesome space too. Our little community was lovely – charity cake sales and school-wide inside jokes all over the place.
Intuitively, we all knew that uni is much bigger than our sixth form, but it hit me more once I got to uni. According to the university website, I’m one of 4726 people who started at Warwick in October 2015. By comparison, I was one of 48 who completed A-levels at my sixth form in June 2015… that’s a big change, and let me tell you, it’s pretty weird to walk into a lecture on your first day and think about how many times your sixth form could fit into MS02.
The change in size of the pool of people you could expect to see in a day makes a big change from sixth form. It goes without saying that I’ll never know the names of everyone in my year now. You’d probably have to start baking a few months in advance if you ever wanted to sell a cake to everyone. There’ll never be all the little in-jokes tying everyone together*. Without trying to sound too edgy, it’s very possible to feel lonely in a crowd.
But that’s not a bad thing. It just means that there are so many more ways of experiencing Warwick – 4726 people, each with their own “Warwick experience”. The beauty of being in such a big place is that you can tailor your experience of the Warwick community to fit you, and it’s absolutely what you make it. There’s not even just one Warwick community, so you don’t have to be bound by what everyone else is doing.
If you’re worried about moving to a place so much bigger than you’re used to, I’d strongly encourage you to look into societies and sports, because every single one has its own unique community, and they’re rarely massive. There’s probably about 40 people who go to QuizSoc regularly enough that I know their name, and there’s less than 20 who are very regular – one of my friends put it best: “these are my people”. It’s also worth looking into a part-time job – I joined the Warwick Welcome Service and Widening Participation team, and I’ve met a lot of great people while working on jobs with them. I know that it can be tempting to hide in your room and not talk to anyone because there are thousands of people and that’s kind of terrifying, but joining clubs and societies really does help. It feels way less like a crowd when you know a few of the faces.
The flat you live in; the societies you join; the subject you do; the jobs you work; the sports you play; the nights you go out – everything changes the people you’ll meet and the in-jokes you’ll have. And even if it takes a while, you’ll probably find a niche.
*Some may argue that the Koan is the exception to this rule. However, as we all know, our campus deity is absolutely not a joke.