Choosing the right sixth form college for you

If you are doing your GCSEs, you also have to think about what next. Do you want to go to a sixth form college or stay at your school if it offers a sixth form? You could also look at apprenticeships. In this article we look at how to take your next steps when applying for sixth form colleges.

Sixth form colleges offer several open days. If you are in year 10 you may get the chance to do a taster day in June or July. You may find colleges offering open days in September and October: while these are targeted at students in year 11 you may also want to get a head start and visit one or two in year 10, particularly if there are lots of choices in your area. If you have missed the scheduled dates for a college, get in contact as they may be able to give you a tour on a date to suit you.

Colleges will have a website for you to explore, and may also offer prospectuses for you to browse. Take your time to work out what factors are important to you. You may want to take a specific subject and be drawn to good facilities such as art studios or science labs. Find out how many teachers there are for each subject and how big the classes are. Consider whether you want to do a hands on course, or something that relies upon exams at the end.

You may know people who are at the colleges that you are considering. Do ask them about their experiences – but remember that different people can have different experiences in the same place. While you may want to go to the same college as your friends, take a moment to think about the subjects that you want to study and where is best for that: friendships can change in a new location, you may not be studying the same subjects as your friends, and going to sixth form college is a great chance to meet new people.

Once you have picked the colleges you would like to apply to, you will then need to fill in an application form. Check with each college about when their closing date is. They will generally ask you to fill in your predicted grades at GSCE along with a reference from your school. You will be offered a place on the basis of you meeting minimum requirements overall and for your A level, T Level and BTEC subjects. These will vary from college to college. Some colleges may ask you in for an interview or speak to you online: this is also a chance to talk about your choice of subjects.

Once you have made your application, you then just need to get on and work towards your GSCEs. You make a decision about which college to enrol with the day after GCSE results.

Many colleges will invite you in for an enrolment day when you can finalise your choices. Given that its many months since you filled in your application form, your choices may have changed. Talk to the college – most will be happy for you to swap to different subjects on enrolment day.

Don’t panic if you don’t get the results you need. If you don’t get a grade 4 in maths or English many colleges offer the chance to resit these exams alongside your A levels. If you have slipped a grade or two in subjects you want to study you may be asked to consider different subjects. Take time to talk to the college tutors who can guide you through choosing the best option for you.