Careers Column 10: Why choose college?
Throughout the summer our expert Advice Team is running a special Careers Column in the Gloucester Citizen, Gloucestershire Echo and Forest Citizen, offering advice to young people and their parents on the important factors to consider when making decisions about 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 every Wednesday.
Read the full article below or click on the image to see it as it appears in the newspaper.
Why choose College?
By Paul Halling, Advice and Guidance Coordinator
As an Advice and Guidance Coordinator, I am fortunate enough to speak regularly to school leavers and young people, and one of the questions we regularly discuss is; “should I choose college after my GCSEs?”
Making a decision on whether to remain at school for sixth form or study at college can be tricky, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, for many school-leavers it can be the fresh start they need after five years at school, and an opportunity to develop the maturity they need to succeed at university or in the workplace.
Here are some of the most common reasons why many young people choose college for their post-16 education.
There is a starting point for everyone
Whether you are looking to return to education to re-train or join from school, there are different pathways for everyone. If you already have 5 GCSEs including English and maths then you can often enter directly at Level 3 (equivalent to A Levels). However, if you don’t have these qualifications or equivalents, there is an opportunity to study at Level 1 or 2 and work your way up, improving your English and maths along the way.
Practical learning focused on preparing for the workplace
The environment students are taught in is designed to reflect the ‘real life’ workplace and Gloucestershire College has great facilities for every subject area, including industry standard equipment for film and music studios, a flight simulator for travel and tourism students, theatres, hair and beauty salons, iMac suites, engineering laboratories, industrial scale kitchens, motor vehicle garages with M.O.T bays and sports facilities.
It’s not school
So what are the main differences between school and College? Here are just a few;
- Colleges employ industry experts with hands-on experience of their field of work who are now helping students with their first steps
- Alongside their chosen subjects, students also receive a personalised development programme, character building sessions with learning mentors, employability guidance from job coaches and numerous volunteering opportunities that all help to make them stand out from the crowd
- There is far less focus on final examinations and much more on assessment and assignments as you progress
- There is no uniform – you can wear what you like, within reason. Some courses, however, do ask students to dress appropriately for the industry they will be working within, such as hair and beauty
- It is unlikely you will be in college every day of the week, and between lectures you are free to spend your time as you like on or off campus
- Tutors are called by their first names, reflecting the College’s respect for the independence and maturity of its students
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.
Many college courses offer work placements. For example students studying health and social care or early years at Gloucestershire College, spend one day a week in the workplace. For students who don’t have work placements built into their course, there is the opportunity to complete work experience or an internship, in order to build the skills and confidence that employers need.
For those who’d rather get straight into the workplace, the College offers apprenticeships with over 650 employers across 17 industries, starting from Level 2 right through to Level 6 degree apprenticeships.
A direct path into Higher Education
As well as offering further education courses, Gloucestershire College offers higher education qualifications in the form of foundation degrees, HNCs, HNDs and full honours degrees. These are affiliated with universities such as the UWE, University of Gloucestershire and Birmingham City University.
Studying nearer to home generally makes continuing on to higher education more affordable, and tuition fees for higher education courses at Gloucestershire College are less expensive than at university. These savings enable many students to continue their studies in familiar surroundings on a lower budget, however the quality of teaching is just as high as at university, with students benefitting from more one-to-one contact with tutors, smaller classes and more contact time than they would receive at other providers. More than 1 in 8 students now choose to undertake higher education courses at colleges, and this is becoming an increasingly more popular choice.
Gloucestershire College has received rave reviews for its student support, and in particular for its work with learners with autism. The College works with hundreds of learners with a range of support needs including those with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, ADHD and moderate learning difficulties. It are also fully equipped to assist with any physical disabilities or students who need classroom assistants for support.
Ready to choose College?
If you need advice on your post-GCSE options, Gloucestershire College will be open on Friday 25 August for Post-GCSE Advice Day. Drop into any of our three campuses between 10am and 4pm for advice on courses, late applications and what to do if you didn’t get the results you expected.
Can’t make it? Don’t worry, you can also contact us on 0345 155 2020.