Is college the right choice for my child?
Once your child has completed GCSEs, the decision to move on to further education becomes a task. Teenagers who have finished their recent exams are either determined on moving onto A levels or aren’t sure about what they’d like to do next. They often need guidance when it comes to deciding what the next steps will be in order for them to match their needs and interests. In most cases, teenagers are not given the choice to look at other options and move on to college without a clear plan in mind. Some things that need to be kept in mind are what your child wants to study, what qualifications they need and where and how they’d like to study. If you’d like to know more about if college is the right choice for your child, continue reading.
The rule for 16-year-olds post GCSEs is that they must be in some form of education until the age of 18. This doesn’t mean that they have to follow the majority and move onto college and A levels. Other options offer different approaches such as BTEC, vocational qualifications and apprenticeships. Jobs that offer training are also accepted. If your child struggled with GCSEs and found that they’d like to do something else, a different route should be considered.
For some, the decision after secondary school is easy, straight onto A levels. If your child knows what they want to do and where they want to get to, then your job is made easier. For example, if a child wants to become a doctor, then they’ll need to take science at A levels. However, it is very common for students to be unsure of what they want to do as the choices are endless. In these cases, it is best to encourage teens to make a choice that will allow them to gain experience without limiting themselves by taking similar subjects. If your child enjoyed a certain subject at GCSEs, research what jobs and opportunities are offered through that field and see if your child is happy with progressing that way.
Colleges offer qualifications falling under the categories of academic and vocational. Academic qualifications are subject-focused and usually consist of a lot of theory and exam-based work. Vocational courses are more hands-on and focus on the world of work. Colleges offer A levels and BTEC qualifications to be studied whereas apprenticeships and technical qualifications include work and are studied through that also.
Consider allowing your child to continue at the school they’re already attending. There are lots of benefits such as familiarity with the staff and school as well as already having a good set of friends. Sixth forms tend to be smaller than colleges and offer a lot more support for students. However, the only downside to this is that there may not be a big selection of subjects when it comes to studying there which can limit students.
Colleges allow students to work amongst a wide range of ages, whilst being offered both academic and vocational courses to study. Teachers and lecturers are all well trained and offer the best service to their students. It also offers a closer experience to that of a university. It teaches students to manage their studies and meet deadlines without having to constantly be nudged or reminded. These skills are required regardless of if your child chooses to go into higher education but is a great way for 16-year-olds to get a taste of what’s to come. The new changes and environment are something to consider as it will be a fresh start for your child and maybe something they feel uncomfortable with doing so soon. Pushing them to leave their comfort zone can lead to your child feeling overwhelmed.
At the end of the day, your child will do best in what they enjoy. If your child shows a keen interest in certain subjects then A levels are the way forward for them. Your child should choose subjects they are passionate about learning in-depth as the work at this level is intense and far greater than it was at the GCSE level. If you’ve noticed your child prefers practical studies then there are many options for that too. Don’t feel shy to speak to your child’s teachers for better insight.