As you reach the end of your time at school you will need to start thinking about where you want to study, the choices you have are-
A school sixth form
A sixth form college
A further education college
A specialist college
Most schools would have their own sixth form but if not, you may be able to study in the sixth form of another school, or at a sixth form college. Sixth forms offer more options compared to when you were studying for your GCSE's.
All sixth forms vary as some may be a lot bigger and the courses and facilities may differ. Sixth form colleges tend to be larger and more informal than sixth forms.
Advantage of staying at your own sixth form
If your school has a sixth form and you are considering staying on then you will have the advantage of being in a familiar environment. You would already be familiar with the teachers and also you will know everyone in your class.
What to expect
Sixth forms tend to have more of a relaxed environment compared to school, although as they are still part of the school they may have a more structured timetable compared to a sixth form college. You may also be required to wear a uniform or follow a dress code.
If you stay on at a sixth form you will have the option to take AS subjects in your first year and then choose which subjects you want to continue to take at A level in your second year.
In the last couple of years, many schools have started to offer a range of other courses and qualifications such as NVQs so make sure you find out what's on offer.
Sixth form colleges
Once you have done your GCSEs, you might want to continue with your studies but also fancy a change from school.
The most popular option is going to a sixth form college. A sixth form college offers a more informal environment to those at a school. Sixth form colleges tend to be much bigger and can often offer you a wider range of study options.
As you will be going to an unfamiliar environment you will get to meet plenty of new people and also make new friends. At college you will notice that you are not treated as a pupil but rather as a student as you will be expected to manage your own time and deadlines.
If you are thinking about going to college but not 100% sure then it is advisable to visit one of their open days so that you can see what the colleges have to offer and to meet tutors and other students.
If you don't fancy staying on at your schools sixth form but also feel that your local college cannot offer a course that suits your needs then another option is to study at a specialist college. Some other colleges may specialise in particular subject areas such as:
art and design
dance and drama
agriculture and horticulture
The only downside to going to a specialist college is that there are not as many around so going to this type of college may involve a lot of travelling. If the specialist college is far from home then you may need to live there therefore you may qualify for financial help.
Further Education Colleges
Further education (FE) colleges are usually larger than sixth form colleges, although what they have to offer varies depending on what else is offered locally.
If you have plenty of colleges locally then it may be that your Further Education College specialises more in specific industries. In areas where the FE College is the only college then they will offer everything you could get in either school sixth form or Sixth Form College.
All further education colleges will have more than one site and although most students are over 16 you will find that all further education colleges will have part time and adult students.