Sixth form or college?

As we slowly enter the new month, we are closer to a new academic year. For some students, its time to decide whether they would like to stay at their current school, go to another sixth form or join a college. Applications have been sent and interviews are soon to be attended.  Year 11 students have a lot to think about in terms of their future and the choosing where to spend the next 2 years of your academic life is a monumental decision. So, hopefully this article can make your verdict easier and provide an insight into what life could be like whatever your choice and the pros and cons that come with your decision.

If you study at a secondary school, there is a high chance that a sixth form is attached which is where you spend the two final years at school for students between the ages of 16 and 18 who are preparing for A or AS levels. If you decide to spend your time at your schools sixth form, it’s likely you know your teachers well which will definitely help you adjust into Year 12 with a familiar community of people. There’s a chance that your friends will also stay, so it’s great in terms of knowing the people around you having a solid history with the people you spend the next academic years with.

 However, this all depends on your personal experience. If your secondary school life wasn’t the best and you didn’t like your peers and teachers, then maybe staying isn’t the best option. Here, a good idea would be to look out for different schools to gain a fresh start in a more mature environment.

Overall, applying to a sixth form is a great experience. There’s a sense of community in each one since class sizes will be smaller and so will give you more contact time with your teachers, in turn, more opportunities to ask for help and better quality of teaching. Also, sixth forms tend to have a more relaxed style but, as they are still part of the school, they may have a more formal and structured timetable than if you went to a college.

But sixth form is not for everyone. If a rigorous academic approach is not something that excites you, it may not be sensible to do A levels. Some may argue that the sixth form environment can be too demanding and at times suffocating.

This is why some people may choose to go to a college. Colleges have more variety in terms of subjects and qualifications so if a levels isn’t suitable for you, then B-techs or vocational courses are the way to go. A vast number of choices allows you to further explore what you’re into, and guide you towards the degree and career path of your dreams. Furthermore, colleges are more relaxed and have an independent atmosphere compared to sixth forms. Often feeling like a mini university experience because of the huge class sizes and large campuses and the fact that there are no students below the age of 16, and because they’re open to the community, there might be students who are older than 16-19 studying there. The environment at a college is generally more adult, and students are expected to take more responsibility for themselves and their learning. Sixth Form Colleges tend to be slightly more casual as students usually address their teachers on a first-name basis. Attending a college helps you to come out of your comfort zone and meet loads of new people, an opportunity that can be life-changing, and a huge boost of confidence before you experience the real thing at university.

Although colleges may not cater to your needs if you’re going to a more traditional career pathway and there is a stereotype that college students are too laidback. Even though this is not the case, it could be a deciding factor since students who wants a heavily academic experience may not get the complete attention of their teachers due to the numerous students in one class.

In conclusion, sixth forms and colleges have their positives and negatives and deciding to attend either depends on your preferences.