10 Struggles Every A1 Student Deals With

A Levels is a whole new thing for most students who’ve been taking it easy for the past three years. It was fairly easy getting used to O Levels: we had a clear idea of the syllabus, had mainly a maximum of 3 papers for each subject and, well, things were generally pretty chill and life was good.

Then A1 happened.

  1. The Pressure

From the end of O3, you start receiving warnings from your seniors and teachers that A Levels is real (keeping it PG-13). On the first day of college, when you come with high hopes for the new ‘college life’ you’re warned that the academic ‘jump’ is significant from O Levels to A Levels making you want to actually jump, but this time off a cliff preferably.

Also unlike O Levels, your teachers won’t motivate you to study, instead if you can’t handle it then you’ll be told to drop the subject because son, this is the real deal. You’re told that if you get bad grades in A Levels then there’s no going back and you won’t be able to get into your dream university. Otherwise, no pressure.

2.  Subject Selection

If you’re in an existential crisis like me then you’ll find it very difficult to choose from the wide variety of subjects which LACAS offers. Politics, sociology,
history, law? All of these subjects fascinate me but I can only take one or two with three other science subjects. And in case you’re wondering — yes. Yes I do know I’ll end up with 3 and dropping the rest but, hey! It’s worth a shot! So selecting subjects is a problem for me and many others who are generally bad at making decisions, which is basically most of you. I mean, most sixteen year olds I know can’t even decide if they want pizza or biryani for lunch.

Apart from this, subject selection also depends on whether or not you have clashes, which is struggle on its own. Then there are those who say it’s hard to choose subjects because they haven’t limited career options yet. Now these people are what I refer to as legends. They’ll decide once they’re done with their A Levels because ‘eazy scenez hain yaar’. Harvard, if you’re reading this and looking for students, hit them up.

3. The Transition

School life was more easy going. We had a fixed timetable and many faculty members making sure we were studying and disciplined. Daily timings for classes were the same and you basically knew everyone in your section and batch. But college life is more different. To start off, you spend the first two weeks giving Usain Bolt a run for his money (pun intended).The desperation to get to classes on time and to do so without clashes with others is infinite. Classes start off in the first week so regardless of you finalising a subject or not you’ll already feel that you’re a semester behind.

4. The Social ‘Situation’

Ah, the part where we all nearly drop out (or is that every part?) Changing sections already took a toll on many of us back in O1 but now it’s a whole new deal. Yes, it’s time to throw the bff bracelets away and wait for the depression to start away. Firstly, most of your friends have either different subjects or different groups so you’re constantly matching timings to make sure you can meet them during school hours. Also, everyone gets pretty busy in college so it’s hard to hang out more often. Instead we spent the first few months desperately trying to manage our academics with our co-curriculars so there’s barely any time for a social life.

5. Choosing A Career Path

Many of us hold off in choosing a field to go into till O3. Do you wanna work for the UN one day or design dresses? Do you want to do something else? It’s time to decide now and you can’t hold it off any longer.

6. The University Process

Whether you want to go abroad or stay in Pakistan, your preparations for going to your dream universities start now (some might say that you should have started from O Levels but let’s just ignore them for now). You’re told to start going to the guidance counsellors for making good university resumes. You’re overloaded with information about university applications, the SAT, the ACT — and once you find out the ivy league acceptance rates your aims drop from Stanford to Iqra University. It can be demotivating but on the contrary it motivates you to work harder to get into your dream universities. Apart from this, the application process like deciding to apply through the common app or not can be confusing at times but its nothing we have to worry about for another year.


7. ‘We Were On A Break!’

You get the idea.

This might not be much of a struggle to some, but when you have a three hour break between classes, a fried brain from all the arithmetic progression you studied, and you’ve seen every meme in existence then the struggle is real. Playing sports isn’t an option because of the all nighter you pulled off last night and your brain refuses to function enough to study for the next class. Your friends have their classes going on and now you’re deciding whether to go home, get a power nap and come back but by the time you do decide, it’s time for class.

8. Summer Recovery

If this isn’t the most first world problem then I don’t know what is, but it’s a struggle we have to deal with. The first week of college is always the hardest, and this goes for any student going back to school after their holidays.It’s pretty easy to become accustomed to twelve hours of sleep everyday and binge watching The Crown, so to adjust back into the student life is pretty hard but it’s particularly difficult for the A1 student. We have to get use to a new routine of studying, breakdowns, some co curriculars, breakdowns and studying again — and it’s very hard, okay?

9. New People, More Anxiety

If you’re an introvert then you can definitely relate to this. A Levels is a new school and a new school means new people and this means your crippling social anxiety or your general hate for Human Beings have to be sidelined. Interaction with your own species might not be your thing but there are points in which you have to interact with people.

10. Dealing With The Trauma

We’re all pretty much aware of the trauma we’re going to face in the coming two years because like I said, your seniors and teachers warn you from the start not to detract from studying. It’s hard to get a B in A Levels yet alone an A* or an A. The university process also worries you. Will you be able to get into the top tier universities? Will you get the scholarships you’re aiming for? These are all questions which come into your mind. Overall, A Levels is pretty stressful.

But hey, college isn’t all about studying. It’s also about getting your ideas to breakthrough, exploring your passions, increasing your knowledge about the world and just genuinely having a good time. So yes, A Levels is tough, but I’m genuinely looking forward to the next two years. As my man Ghalib said: umeed per zindagi kaim hai.


by Faheel Haider
Class of 2020


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