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Careers Column 8 - What’s the difference between school and college?

24 August 2016

Throughout the summer our expert Advice Team is running a special Careers Column in the Gloucester Citizen, Gloucestershire Echo, Stroud Life and Forest Citizen, advising parents on how to help their children make the right choice for their education and future careers.

If you didn't catch it in the paper, don't worry - we will be posting the articles here on the GC news page each week on a Wednesday.

Week 8 - What's the difference between school and college?

Click the image to view the published article or read it below:

Gc Careers Columns 2016 Week 8








What’s the difference between school and college?

By Laura Davies, Advice and Guidance Coordinator

As young people come into their final year of school they are faced with a dizzying array of options: A Levels, BTECs, apprenticeships – it’s no wonder so many feel confused! One of their biggest decisions is whether to remain in the school environment they know and perhaps love, or to launch out into the undiscovered world of college – it can be a scary choice.

So what are the major differences between college and school? Starting with the basics, colleges are normally much bigger and have a greater mix of people from a wider geographical area. This allows students to meet a greater variety of people and think about issues they may not have come across before. Another of the most striking differences for young people is that tutors are called by their first names – this reflects a college’s respect for young people’s increasing independence and maturity.

Delve deeper into a college and you will find extensive facilities; colleges are designed to reflect real workplaces. At Gloucestershire College we have the latest equipment in our engineering and construction centres; professional catering kitchens and commercial restaurants; hair and beauty salons open to the public; fashion and photography studios; a motor vehicle workshop; recording studios; theatres; Mac suites and more. We even purchased a house in Gloucester which over 400 of our construction and building services students are working on to gain real on-site experience.

A further difference between school and college is often found in the staff – colleges employ industry experts who have extensive experience in their field of work and are now helping students with their first steps into the industry.

Colleges are also very clear that they need to ensure students are exposed to the world of work so they can become ‘work ready’. 72% of employers who recruited 17 and 18 year olds from a further education college said they were prepared for the world of work, compared with 60% who had attended school. Apprenticeships, traineeships, work placements and internships are everyday experiences in a college, allowing students to develop the skills that bridge the important gap between study and work.

Gloucestershire College thinks hard about how to help our students become work ready. In addition to on-the-job training via apprenticeships and traineeships, students gain work-related skills through volunteering, community work and running events. Many of our courses offer work placements, such as Health and Social Care Level 3 where students spend a day a week on placement, or students can take on an internship to build skills.

How to help your child choose the right place for further education
The best way is to help them gather as much information they can so they can make an informed choice. Go to open evenings and talk to staff at both school and colleges; look at the facilities available in the department your child is interested in; encourage your child to think about their particular needs – would they get the help they need better at college or school?

Find out about what happens when they leave college or school – will they be supported in making an application for their dream university or in applying for higher level apprenticeships?

Ultimately your child is unique and needs to make the choice that best suits them and their needs. Some will thrive in a new exciting environment and some will need the familiarity and security of school to bring out their best – we wish you all the best in helping them with that choice!

Whichever pathway your child decides to choose, the GC Advice Team is here to help. Email or call 0345 155 2020 for independent advice and guidance.


Why Gloucestershire College?

We have a lot of experience offering Apprenticeships and work-related training. We have industry-standard facilities and experienced teaching staff which provide the ideal complement to work-based learning.

We are here to help

0345 155 2020

90% of students would recommend GC and 95% said that the teaching on their course was good.

Ofsted has rated us good.

  • We offer industry relevant facilities
  • Our lecturers are passionate subject specialists
  • Employers value our students' skills

We'll look after you. We have dedicated teams to help you and a great Learning Mentor scheme.