8 reasons to choose college

You’ve sat your GCSE exams, you’re about to leave school…so what’s next? Lots of people choose Further Education college, and go on to get top jobs. Most colleges offer study programmes from entry level through to degree level, meaning there is an opportunity for everyone. We examine 8 great reasons to choose college as your next step.

1. Lots of courses to choose from

Further Education colleges offer a far wider range of courses and qualification types than schools, including:

  • Vocational courses related to a broad subject area such as business
  • Vocational courses which build skills and knowledge for a particular industry such as hairdressing, as well as getting you a qualification
  • Academic study like GCSEs and A Levels
  • Apprenticeships to develop industry-related skills while learning and earning

Study programmes at college include a main subject, tutorial support and, where required, additional English and maths. Look at a college’s website or prospectus to see the wide range of courses on offer.

Graduating students

2. You can progress through different qualification levels

At a FE College, students can progress from Foundation or ‘entry level’ courses all the way up to degree-level and professional qualifications. FE College also allows you to continue studying towards obtaining your English and maths GCSEs (or a Functional Skills qualification) if you do not have these at A*-C grade (or 4-9 in the new grading system), which is important for applications to university and future employment.

3. A route to university

About half of people with vocational qualifications progress to Higher Education to complete their degree. There are now lots of Higher Education courses that will accept Level 3 vocational qualifications as sufficient entry criteria.

4. Practical, real-world learning

Whilst there are still exams and written assignments at college, there are also courses that include practical assessments where you will be assessed in a realistic work environment. Many colleges also have facilities like restaurants or hair salons which are open to the public so students can develop their practical skills and leave college ready for employment.

5. Increase your earning power

Government research shows that the average earnings of a person who achieves a Level 2 Apprenticeship is 11% higher 3 to 5 years after qualifying than someone who starts the qualification but does not achieve it. So, the more you learn, the more you earn.

Carpentry student
Student common room

6. Different from school

Whilst you’ll attend lessons and have a timetable like at school, you’ll find college is more relaxed and you’ll be quite independent. Courses may be only 3 days a week, you might not have to stay in college during free periods and you won’t have to wear a uniform (unless your course requires it). What’s more, you might be studying with people who are a different age to you, and may be allowed to call your tutors by first name. No more ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’!

7. Lots of activities

FE colleges have an abundance of extra-curricular activities: College sports teams and academies; clubs such as film or knitting; volunteering with Duke of Edinburgh and National Citizen Service; standing for election in the Student Union, and so much more. So find out what’s on offer and get involved!

8. Help and support from beginning to end

Colleges are proud of being diverse, inclusive and safe places to learn, with lots of people who can support you from beginning to end of your college life:

  • Taster days, enrolment events, induction weeks and freshers’ activities
  • Group tutorials or one to one sessions with dedicated Course tutors
  • Learning Support teams for those with learning difficulties or disabilities
  • Financial support including free meals, travel and childcare
  • Pastoral support such as counselling service and College Nurse or Healthcare Assistant
  • Careers Advice to help develop your CV, practice interviews and more!

Whichever pathway you choose, Barnfield College Careers Advice Team is here to help. Call 01582 569 569 to book a one-to-one appointment, or fill in our online form.