My son/daughter wants to go to college - what should I expect? - Starting College
Further education colleges are open to students aged 16 and over. Colleges attract students from all age groups, however, some study programmes are specifically for students aged 16-18 years. With the exception of English and maths GCSEs, a further education college generally offers mainly technical and professional qualifications at a variety of levels. The level at which a student starts a study programme is generally governed by their GCSE results from secondary school.
Your son or daughter need not rule out a university pathway by choosing a technical and professional qualification – a number of level 3 study programmes can provide a route to university.
The main change between school and college is freedom; relaxed rules and dress code. Students are treated more as adults and calling tutors by their first name is common place. There is an emphasis on students taking full responsibility for their learning unlike the full guidance they have been used to in a secondary school environment. Timetables can often include a number of free periods and students may not be expected to attend every day – a college day can be longer than a school day and your son/daughter will have to adjust quickly to ensure that they do not fall behind with their studies.
Free time can be used to complete coursework, volunteering or maybe part-time work in order to build upon skills and their experience in the workplace. Colleges specialise in technical and professional subjects and so are equipped with realistic work-like settings such as salons, theatres, kitchens and workshops. These industry specific environments help students gain familiarity with all of the kit and technology commonly used in their chosen industry. Many college tutors have a background within the sector in which they teach, helping to give students an insight into the challenges and realities of the workplace.
Technical and professional study programmes also include compulsory work experience placements. These are opportunities for students to develop the employability skills which employers consistently look for. The placements also give students the chance to ‘road test’ career ideas.
Starting at college can be exciting and nerve-wracking. The important thing to convey to your son/daughter is that everyone feels the same at the start. They are entering a partnership between student and tutor, a willingness to learn and to offer the highest level of commitment to their studies. At college, you are expected to do a large part of your learning on your own. This can include reading and completing assignments and so a work-life balance is very important.
We have high expectations for all of our students to integrate well into our diverse community and for everyone to achieve their goals. College can be some of your child’s best years, encourage them to get the maximum out of their experience. We are here to help, guide, encourage and support every step of their exciting journey towards the start of their prospective careers.