Since March, Grŵp Llandrillo Menai students have been working from home, attending virtual classes, and following very different routines to those of pre-lockdown days. Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor students have had to adapt to a new way of life and a new way of learning with help from their parents, tutors, and also from former students at the college.

Many students are completing their AS-levels this summer and will be looking forward to applying to universities next year. Even under current lockdown regulations, CMD's hopeful undergraduates are still working hard to secure their futures in higher education.

Ms. Wendy Hinchey, an Enrichment Coordinator and English lecturer at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor has been teaching her students online since March. Wendy keeps her lessons engaging and stimulating for the learners with various activities, and has even arranged for guest speakers to speak to the class via google meet. One such speaker is former CMD A-levels student Lois Williams.

Lois studied at Pwllheli campus until last summer when she achieved her desired A-level grades enabling her to go on to study English Literature at Liverpool John Moores University. From her home to theirs, Lois spoke at length about applying for university with Dolgellau and Pwllheli campus students, discussing everything from how they are coping with the current situation to how they could be using the summer to prepare for next year. Lois covered how to read novels in preparation for an essay, how to collect quotes and develop a question effectively, how to include secondary sources in your work, and also how to draft an essay. The students were also eager to discuss their UCAS applications and how to draft a personal statement with someone who had done theirs very recently.

Commenting on the experience, Lois said,

When I was at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, we had the opportunity to speak with people who were already in university and as an A-levels student, I found this helpful. When I was asked to do the same this year by my former lecturer I was only too happy to help. The experience was helpful for me too, as I am considering teaching as a potential job in the future, although I'm not certain yet. Having the chance to speak with A-level students in this way was a taste of life as an educator and will help me reach my decision. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and, as it helped me so much I do hope that I've been able to help the students in the same way.

Lois described being excited to continue her studies next year, a sentiment felt by many young people as this academic year draws to a close.

Erin Lloyd Jones, from Pwllheli, is one of the students who will be progressing to study her A-levels next year and will start to think about the next steps after college. Erin described how useful it was to speak with Lois about her experience of university and to go over the whole application process. Additionally, Lois shared her experience of life in university and of moving to a new city from a small town in North Wales, something all the students found very reassuring. Erin said,

I found the session with Lois very helpful as it has made me optimistic about my studies next year. She gave me tips on how to organize my work, which is something I have been working on this past year.

Our tutors have been very helpful, answering any questions about work and writing our personal statements. Whenever I have been feeling low mentally, they have made themselves available to talk and give advice, which has been helpful.

Another student in the class who spoke with Lois was Elis Parry Jones, also from Pwllheli, and has been studying his AS levels this year. Commenting on Lois' session, Elis said,

Lois gave us an insight into her subject, English Literature, at university level. It was very helpful because she'd only gone through this process a few years ago so she could give us an honest experience of her university application and of how she completed her non-examination coursework to a high level. Lois even told us about Liverpool in general, how it was a very friendly city which was full of life, and that she'd thoroughly enjoyed her time there outside university hours. I'm looking forward to carrying on with my A-level subjects next year and to prepare for university life. Hopefully, life will be starting to return to normal by then. Although online learning has been quite effective in terms of learning and completing work, I am looking forward to getting back to the classroom.

For more information on A-levels available at Grŵp Llandrillo-Menai's colleges, visit www.gllm.ac.uk/a-levels