Is College for me?
We know there are lots of options for you post-16 - and this is a really good thing! In our previous blog we talked about studying A levels at a sixth form but you might be thinking that going to a College is a better option for you.
As we have said before (and I am sure that your teachers have told you this) you should try to experience as many of your different options as you can, in order to see what feels the best for you. Visit different colleges and sixth forms, and compare the courses they offer, the environment, the teaching - and make sure you speak to current students too to find out what life is like.
We've worked with lots of young people who have chosen to go to college for their Post 16 studies. When we asked them why they made this decision, the most common responses related to the aspects below;
Colleges can be more informal than school sixth forms.
Colleges are usually bigger, and they can often offer you more study options.
You'll get to make more new friends from different schools
Whatever the reason are for choosing college, here are a few things to think about:
It can be terribly awkward at the beginning. Be prepared to deliver some good conversation starters!
Teachers aren’t going to do everything for you now, it’s time to take responsibility. Be prepared to study in your non-contact periods and make sure you are organised and manage your time from day 1.
Your teachers and tutors will support you every step of the way, and they want you to do the very best that you can. But the responsibility for your learning and development lies primarily with you; you need to push yourself to work harder.
Don’t get in the teacher’s bad books at the start, this isn’t school and you don’t have 5 years to re-write their opinion of you. Start well and show them that you are there to work hard. This is very important as they may be the ones writing your references for University or Employment!
Your timetable will look very different to what you are used to at school. Don't be surprised if start times are different or if you have more non-contact periods - but this doesn’t mean you can slack off! Remember, you are expected to make a big step up in your independent learning and self-management.
There may be an absence of bells/buzzers at College; again, this means you have to be more organised than ever before.
A big tip - make sure you get a planner and plan your time – organisation goes a long way at College.
Like we've said before, studying at College is a more mature way of learning. A great tip is to write up your notes as soon as you get them (you'll make lots of notes!). If you do this a couple of months down the line your notes won’t make much sense.
Assessment deadlines can be changed at very short notice and things will be reorganised via emails, again, a move towards a more adult environment. Remember, you’re not at school so don't expect tutors to run around to make things easy for you; it's your responsibility.
We've said it once, but we'll say it again...use the gaps in your timetable wisely and do not waste them. There is no such thing as 'free periods'... they are they for you to study, read around the subject and develop your understanding.
You will meet new classmates over and over again. This can be intimidating but don't worry, everyone is in the same boat!
Remember there might be a range of age groups in your class, especially if you are studying vocational courses. If this is the case, don't forget you are all equal and that you all started the course at the same time.
(and now for something really important...) Food queues are likely to be large OR you’re going to be spending a lot of money offsite at lunch times. Make sure you budget for this!
Don't think the list above is exhaustive, it just gives you some food for thought and every college is different so make sure you check out as many options as you can. However, in all colleges you will be expected to understand and remember what you read. You will also be asked to draw conclusions, form opinions, and evaluate the ideas of others. Students who succeed do their assignments and keep up with their reading; in college, you have a tremendous amount of freedom, just make sure you don’t waste it!
Experiencing the world of work
Vocational study in college should bring the opportunity to gain workplace experience and develop the skills employers are asking for. Many courses include placements, which will give you great experience and the chance to see what a career is really like. If you have the option for work experience when studying at College, you should give it very careful consideration.
So, is College right for you?
Well, only you can answer that question. Ask yourself:
Are you ready for a change from the school setting?
Can you manage your own time effectively (or could you learn to do so)?
Do you prefer to be treated as an adult?
Are you interested in vocational, rather than purely academic, options?
Are you ready to focus on one subject or job area?
Are you looking for a specialist subject or the use of specialist facilities?
If the answer to these questions is 'YES' then College might just be the enivronment where you will flourish!
If College is your choice, remember your globalbridge profile is profile for life. You will get loads of opportunities at College and globalbridge is a great place to celebrate and evidence your achievements. Make sure you continue to record all of your experiences, you will need them for the future and people will want to know about them!