Where should you study after you finish your GCSEs?
So, your GCSEs are almost over and it's about time that you start thinking about your options for when that massive summer holiday comes to an end. By now you should know all sorts of things about yourself. What subjects you most enjoy, what subjects you detest, the best methods of study and teaching for you, and importantly, whether you like school enough to spend another two years there. It seems a lot of people resign themselves to staying on at their school's sixth form because it's the easiest option for them, or because they don’t know what other opportunities they have to explore.
If this sounds like the sort of thing you’d do, then you’re in the right place.
To change or not to change?
With some form of continued education compulsory until the age of 18, the decision of whether to study after GCSEs has been made for you. You still have to make the decision of where to study, though, and that can be a hard one.
One of the most important decisions to consider is where you want to study. You've spent the last ten or eleven years in school. You know how mundane day to day life can be, how awful your uniform is and how irritating the majority of your teachers are, not to mention the rest of the class. So, do you want to stay on at your school's sixth form for another two years? Sure, you'll probably benefit from relaxed uniform rules, more informal student – teacher relations and you’ll have free periods to break the monotony of life (or exacerbate it, as the case may be), but it’s not going to be completely different to what you’re used to.
But hang on, what about college? What about other local sixth forms? You may have more options than you think and it’ll be better in the long run if you explore them, now...
What advantages are there to staying at school?
- You can continue to study alongside your friends (assuming they also stay at your school)
- Teachers already know about your strengths and weaknesses and you can build on your existing relationships with them.
- Teachers may be more willing to offer you extra support and/or guidance because they know you better.
- You don’t have to try to fit in with a new group of people – especially difficult if you’re moving on to another sixth form.
- You don’t have to adapt to new surroundings, and routines.
- You may prefer the smaller, more intimate atmosphere of school sixth form against the less personal nature of college.
- You can continue with your extra-curricular activities and as a sixth former, may get the opportunity to lead those groups.
- You may benefit from the more structured nature of sixth form life.
- Maybe you just really, really like your school.
What are the advantages of changing to a college or another local school?
- You are likely to be offered a wider range of courses to study from, especially at college. This sometimes include more vocational courses, but also academic subjects.
- You get to meet new people, and build important skills for the future. You could see it as practise for starting at university.
- Better facilities might be available for you to use.
- You may be exposed to new teaching methods and styles.
- You may cut down on travel time – which obviously gives you more time to study...
- You get the possibility of a fresh start – maybe you didn't maintain the best reputation at your old school; perhaps you don’t like your fellow students or teachers; or maybe you simply feel like you need a change.
- You might find that lesson combinations at another institution will allow you to study all the subjects that you want.
- You don’t have to put up with the younger students!
- If you’re driven by competition then a larger institution can certainly cater for that.
- Generally you will benefit from relaxed rules and dress code.
- A-Level Subject Guides
- What Subjects Should I Study?
- Respected A-Levels
- Further Education FAQs
- A Guide to Further Education Qualifications
- Things You Should Know Before Starting College
- A Guide to Changing Schools at the End of AS Year