College or sixth form

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Going to College (16, 17 and 18 year olds)

Is college for me?

Many people go to college because they want to gain more or better qualifications but feel that school isn’t quite the place for them

  • Sixth form colleges usually offer courses for 16 to 19 year olds.
  • Further Education colleges run courses for anyone over 16.

Both types of college offer a wide range of courses. These include GCSEs, AS and A levels together with a wide range of work-related courses. In order to join higher level courses you will need to have gained some qualifications, say 5 GCSEs at grade A-C. To gain a place on lower level qualifications, you will have to show that you will work hard and succeed on the course.

What’s it like?

  • You will need to get used to a new building and people - the lecturers (teachers) and students, but you’ll quickly make new friends.
  • You will be around people of all ages at further education college
  • You will have long ‘free’ periods but will be expected to spend much of that time in the library studying hard.
  • There won’t be a school-type uniform to wear
  • You will be expected to manage your own time and workload at college far more than you’ve done before. This can be excellent preparation if you plan to go to university sometime in future.

You won’t notice a great deal of difference in the content of a particular qualification, whether studied in school or at college. Were you to study, say A level Physics, the syllabus would be very much the same.

Check it out

  • Check out the courses on offer on college web site – or get hold of a prospectus. You could also search the Courses in Wales database.
  • Visit the college - most colleges hold open days and evenings throughout the year
  • Get your parents involved, you will need their support.
  • If you’re unsure of the differences between Levels and Qualifications check out our Qualifications Rainbow.
  • Check that you are likely to meet the entry requirements are for the courses you’re interested in.
  • Discuss the detail of the courses you are thinking of taking with the lecturers who teach them. Check that the syllabus really interests you.
  • Do you know anyone who is studying the courses that interest you at college? Chat to them about their experiences. If you don’t know anyone, ask a lecturer if they can help
  • Talk to your Careers Adviser about where the courses you are considering fit into your career plans.
  • Don’t just choose this option, check out the others too.

Help and advice

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