Saturday, 12 July 2014

Guide | Getting the Most Out of Transition Year

By the time that you read this, you have either a) started your Transition Year or b) waiting to start in the new school year or c) a parent/guardian, whereby your child is taking part in the programme. I completed TY this year, and I thought it would be a good idea to compile a helpful to help you get the most out of your experience! (If you are completely lost and don't understand, you can read up on it here)

I come from a rural community in the West of Ireland, therefore, resources/funding are even more limited. These steps are more targeted at your attitude towards Transition Year, rather than dwelling on how many trips away your class go on. TY is sometimes controversial among parents and students alike, however, I am a firm believer in what you put into something, you get out of. Although it is not an academically challenged year, there is plenty to keep you busy if you put the effort in. 

1. Go into Transition Year with a positive attitude

If you set out on a mission to be negative, this isn't going to help you, your peers or your teachers. Chances are (should the TY programme not be compulsory in your school) you applied for a place - or had the decision to be a part of it. Remind yourself why you applied. However if you're already looking forward to it, then that's great!

2. Get to know the rest of your classmates

Transition Year is a great opportunity to mingle with the rest of your classmates. Some of us like to be in "clicks" as much as possible. Though with group projects, a little separation from your besties is inevitable. 

3. Come up with some ideas

There's a strong chance that your TY coordinators will come to you as a class and ask for some suggestions of projects to be done throughout the year. Use this opportunity, and don't be afraid to give some ideas! Although please try and bear in mind a) is this a trip or a project b) cost c) does this involve teamwork. If you have any interests in music, photography, writing, acting, art etc - incorporate those too! Should you have any disability/illness like in my situation - this is a great way to ensure your voice is heard and to remain included in activities that interest you.

4. Try new things & get out of your comfort zone

You may have some ideas for projects, and so will your peers and teachers. Have an open mind about projects. You don't know that you like something until you try it. As well as that, what have you got to lose by trying? For example, if your TY group has the chance to put together a stage production and you're really not keen on going on stage - be sure to participate in the behind-the-scenes. In every group project, there are roles and responsibilities to be carried out, and each role is important for the end result!

5. Take part in as many things as possible/Volunteer around your school

This ties in with my last point. But be sure to take part in as many things as you can throughout Transition Year. For example; BT Young Scientist, Mini Company/Enterprise, Writing Competitions, Cooking Competitions, Gaisce, Big Brother/Big Sister - the list is endless. I took part in the BT Young Scientist this year with two of my classmates, and I can solely say it was the best thing I ever did, our project did really well. You can read about our project here. Hard graft pays off! But by taking part in various activities keeps you both occupied and interested throughout the year. Likewise if a teacher or fellow student is looking for assistance, should you be in a position to help, then do so! This promotes good communication between you and the people around you.

6. Be a team player

I can't stress how important this is in Transition Year. With group projects, you are going to be working in groups for a lot of the time. Every role is important in projects coming together. Try your best in everything you are associated with. If a team mate is finding a section in a project difficult, lend a helping hand. Speak up if you don't understand something in a project, don't fall behind!

7. Work Experience

If your school offers a work experience programme during Transition Year, then take advantage of this opportunity! Work experience is a great way to expose you to the working world. I would advise to apply for placements that you think you will enjoy. Due to the fact that I live in a rural community, I had to travel for my placements. If you have any relations living near a business/placement you wish to apply to - ask if it's okay to stay with them for the week. Use what you have around you. I would recommend applying for places as soon as you know the dates for your work experience, don't leave it until last minute. I found this one of the most exciting aspects of Transition Year. 

8. Portfolio

If your school asks you to keep a portfolio to document your year, then be sure to put your own stamp on it. In my case, our portfolios were graded at the end of the year. Document trips away, workshops, projects, anything really. You could also include your own things like an article that caught your eye, a review of a book or album you read. Keep receipts and leaflets from events. For example I went to a couple of concerts and I included them in on my entry of them. Also 




They say a picture says a thousand words - so be sure to include them. They help fill up the pages and help to make your portfolio look like yours. Try to imagine yourself looking through the portfolio in 20 or 30 years time. In short, imagine it's like an organised scrapbook of your year. As long as you keep up to date with it, and put the effort in, you'll be very happy with the end result.

9. Have any concerns/questions about Transition Year?

If you have any queries relating to Transition Year, be it big or small, ask a teacher your more specifically a TY coordinator. If there's something at the back of your mind, if your year isn't shaping how you hoped it would be, or simply need some help on availing work experience be sure to ask someone. A problem shared is a problem halved!

10. Most importantly...ENJOY IT!

Transition Year only comes once around the corner, and no - you can't repeat it. So make the most of it. If you bear in mind the steps above, you'll be on the road to having a year jam-packed with memories and good times! 

Have you done Transition Year? Let me know in the comments below what you got out of it.


  1. I did TY this past year and it was probably my favourite school year. I'm from the west of Ireland too! I so agree with the taking part thing. I volunteered for as much as I could and got so much from the year! Great post x

    1. Glad to hear you enjoyed your year, I did to! There's a lot of things to get involved if you put your mind to it :) H'on the west haha! Thanks so much for reading x

  2. Speaking of the west, Connemara Maths Academy are running residential programmes at Kylemore Abbey this coming academic year and have also developed mobile workshops for schools that can be run at their schools. Students will have the opportunity to experience creative technologies and adventure activities in a maths centred curriculum giving students a great maths fluency while being able to have a close look at alternative career paths such as music technology, film production and creative writing. Have a look at the website