It’s that time of year again, stressed Year 11s taking their GCSEs whilst trying to prepare for the next step of their education (most likely, college!). I know what it’s like, I was in their position only last year! I’ve decided to write this post for, firstly, the Year 11 that are about to embark on their college journey but also Year 9s and 10s wondering what’s to come! College can be a big step up from secondary school and so I aim to make that transition go a little bit smoother! This post will be about apply to college to complete A Levels, (Sixth Form) although I believe the process is vaguely similar for any college.
Preparing for college does vary from school to school, and of course, college to college. I’m going to give you a general overview of my personal experience of preparing for college and hopefully it’s quite typical of most! Anyway, here we are:
How To Prepare For College
ONE: Think about what GCSEs you enjoyed the most
You firstly need to have an idea of what subjects you wish to take on at college. As I mentioned in my College Q&A, typically people take three A Levels. If you already have a future career in mind, I’d do some research on the A Level requirements for that! It’s really important you take subjects you’re genuinely interested in, otherwise you won’t be motivated to keep up with the workload and assessments!
TWO: Research colleges in your area
Maybe your school has a sixth form, maybe it doesn’t. Whatever the situation, it’s always best to check out all your local options so that you can get the best out of your education. If you already know what subjects you’d like to take, make sure you look at colleges that offer those courses. It’s super important to look at the details of the course because all the colleges might offer ‘History’ for example, but they could all use different exam boards (EG AQA, Edexcel, WJEC, OCR etc.) and so cover different content. Find the one that sparks your interest the most!
If you don’t know what subjects you want to do, read up about a few you think might interest you on some of the local college websites.
THREE: Open Days/Evenings are your best friend
Of course, every college is going to make itself out to be amazing online. You never really know a place until you’ve been there. Make use of the college open days/evenings and talk to staff and students and don’t forget to attend the talks and pick up a prospectus!
You can then begin to shortlist your favourites and eventually make a decision.
Once you’ve chosen your ideal college/course combination it’s time to make it official! Some colleges have online application systems whereas others have a physical form you have to fill out. Make sure you know which one your college uses! You CAN apply to more than one if you’re unsure, or if you think one of your options is a bit ambitious etc.
After applying you will probably have to attend an interview just so they can get to know you and your plans a little bit better. The interview may even be held in your school library if your secondary school and college are linked. Other times, you may have to go to the college itself. The interview isn’t too scary, they just want to make sure you’re making the right decisions!
You may also have Induction Days to attend some time before getting your GCSE results!
FIVE: Try and focus on hitting any mandatory entry requirements
If you need at least a 6 in English, Maths and Chemistry to do the course you really want to do, then make sure you work super hard to hit it! Most colleges allow for if you narrowly missed the requirements or if there were unavoidable circumstances that may have affected your grades. We all know results day in August can go one of two ways, but both can have positive outcomes, don’t panic:
If GOOD on results day:
If you got all the GCSEs you were hoping for (see mine HERE if you’re interested!!) and you hit or exceeded your entry requirements you should just look forward to starting your next step! Maybe you should start reading up on your course and get ahead of the game!
You will probably have some kind of welcome/induction day if you haven’t already. Make sure to attend these as there might be taster lessons and insight into your college life! Don’t forget to work hard and have fun when you start in September!
If BAD on results day:
If Results Day doesn’t go completely as expected, it is not the end of the world! You’ll probably need to call up the college and explain your situation. They SHOULD be completely accommodating and supportive. They may offer you alternatives or suggest a L2 course (which means that you may have to stay an extra year but you can still do your course!). Most colleges offer resits in English and Maths should you fail to get a Grade 4 and you can usually do them alongside your A Level choices!
You should still make sure that you attend all the induction/welcome days! Oh, an have fun!
I hope that this little guide was useful to anyone that needs it! I certainly would have benefited from something like this this time last year! However, my school was very good at preparing us. We had colleges come in and speak to us during assemblies and PSHE lessons!
My friend Ellen wrote a similar post on her blog too that you might want to check out HERE. It’s mainly about the application process if you’re stuck on that! I planned to do this post before she even started blogging, but she beat me to it!!
I finallllllllllllly caught up in my blogging schedule! Hopefully things will start to return to normal now!
Thanks for reading – Good Luck in applying to college!