Choosing Between Sixth Form and College Education

Spring has sprung which means we are all starting to enjoy longer evenings in the sun and dreaming about what we’ll be doing this summer. But for many students it also means it’s time to study for end of year exams and to consider whether they will stay on at school or whether they’d like to go to College and specialise in a specific subject.

So how do these students and their families make this choice?

At Lead News we took the opportunity to visit a local College with a student, Alex, who is looking to see whether they’d like to go to College or stay on at Sixth Form.

College building 2
College building 1 College building 3

The first thing we noticed upon arrival is the size of the campus. The buildings are bigger and a wider array of departments signposted for a range of different and exciting subjects that you wouldn’t see at school.

You can imagine that for many students coming from a small and intimate school that this would be a big change for them, however, there’s excitement in the air with the buzz of students going to class, as well as seeing the list of class choices available. The walls and signs are all brightly coloured and everything looks really engaging.

This time of year sees hundreds of visitors arrive at City College Plymouth to determine whether the College offers the best combination of resources and challenges that will enable them to thrive, develop and learn over the duration of their course. They are also looking to find a course that will not only excite and engage them, but one that will be sure to lead them towards their dream career.

                 College Stem Centre 1 College Stem Centre 3 College Stem Centre 2

For many parents and students, there’s usually a list of needs they want to tick off when attending an open day, whether for school or a college. The first question that is considered is, does the size of the school or college matter?

City College offers students a large campus in a central location where the City offers opportunities for work placements and development in partnership with the College. However, even if you feel that you will shine in a more intimate setting, it seems that the College classes are well populated allowing all students time with the class lecturer as well as supporting staff.

City College Plymouth seems to boast both a great size of campus and courses available, whilst ensuring that they don’t lose that personal touch with their students, ensuring they all receive dedicated time from lecturers and support staff.

But what sets a college apart from a school, after taking into account size and location? What are this year’s students trying to see when they roam the campus at City College?

It would be fair to think that most students understand the key difference between learning at school and college, with the different structure in subject learning. So what are they looking for when visiting a school or college?

Thousands of students will travel with their families to different schools and colleges and see the classes, watch musical performances and attend open days. Each one will ask themselves: can I see myself as part of this community and will I be happy here?

Many students who look to go to College are often looking to learn in an environment that is more relaxed, less rigid, and at City College Plymouth you can see that they offer their students the opportunity to take responsibility for themselves as well as think and question the status quo.

College education enables students to thrive by creating an understanding and habits that will continue into the workplace, teaching a mindset that encourages them to take on challenges, test themselves and try something new. By allowing these freedoms, it allows students to realise their capabilities, perhaps even discovering they are able of doing something they never knew they could before.

Finally, as we walk around with Alex, we notice that the age range of students is greatly different from that at school. This opportunity to speak with people of different ages also adds another layer of learning for a college student.

We realise that the weighing up of differences between school and college can be infinite, but by looking closely at the small things, they can often make a big difference to whether a student will enjoy their studies and succeed.

We would encourage families to ask these questions and perhaps many more when attending an open day.

Remember, your school or college choice should reflect your aspirations, it’s not just about the prestige or the facilities, it needs to be a place you can imagine yourself discovering more about the world and the opportunities where you can be a part of it.

The best way to discover whether College is for you is to attend an open day. Visit City College to see what is on offer. It’s a great opportunity to see what a college is like, find out information, meet lecturers and other students, have a look around and ask lots of questions!

Come to the City College Open Day on 23rd April register here:

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