Hello Marshmallows ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ
I know that this time of year is pretty stressful for those who are enrolling for colleges and sixth forms, especially whilst revising for GCSEs. I have experienced being in a college and I am now attending a sixth form. For me, personally, college was just not for me, mainly due to the fact that travelling took up most of my day. Here are my pros and cons for both college and sixth form, and other factors which you should consider when deciding where you want to go. Also some tips to help you along the way.
In college, the transition from GCSEs to A-levels is more drastic, due to the fact you are treated more like an adult, therefore you have more freedom. During my breaks and lunches, we were allowed to explore and go into town whether that be to get some food or go shopping…my college had a Jack Wills right outside! However with the amount of work we were given, the majority of us stayed inside the college most of the time.
2. More Relaxed Timetable
At college you have less lessons and more individual study time…or also known as more opportunities to talk to friends. I used to have 4 lessons per subject every week and at this time I was taking on 4 subjects. It is a positive aspect if you use this time wisely and you are organised and independent, however if you are like me you may spend this time at Costa, scoffing down a toastie.
3. No Other Year Groups
There will not be any other year groups, therefore the teachers can dedicate their time to teaching the syllabus you need to learn. The fact that the whole school is of your age generally makes it easier to make friends as there are no group divisions.
Yes, there is A LOT more food at college. There are many vending machines scattered around and in the college I attended there were different food stations including: a wrap/ burrito station, fast food station, salad station, sandwich station, desserts station and drinks station. Also, every morning there would be an English breakfast buffet. Not to mention, having the privilege of going into town for a cheeky Costa means you will never be hungry. There is anything for everyone, even for the most fussiest of eaters.
College has caused me to develop an obsession for mozzarella sticks.
I know I mentioned this as a pro, however this can also be a negative. College should be a step further into preparing you for the world of work. The access to freedom can be a little too much because you would not get that much freedom in a work place. People also take advantage of this and use the independent study time for socialising instead (I have to say I’m a culprit of this).
2. More Relaxed Timetable
Likewise, I mentioned this previously in the pros too. The relaxed timetable can also be a downfall towards your education. There was less structure, therefore it was easier to fall behind and become lazy. Some people would get to the point where they wouldn’t attend lessons or always be late. If you are motivated and independent, this will not be a problem. Also, due to the lack of hours of lessons, you do need to do most of the work independently, therefore you do not get as much support as you would if you were in a sixth form.
3. Later Finish Time
Even though there were some days when I started late and others when I finished early, which always made the day a lot easier, when I had a full day (which was most days of the week) they ended later than sixth forms. I finished at 4:15 and normal sixth forms would have ended an hour earlier. Even though it is only an extra hour, it still makes a big difference to the day, especially when travelling particularly in the cold, dark winter evenings. What made it even worse were the constant train strikes.
1. Fewer Distractions
There are fewer distractions as you cannot go out for a bit and go shopping with your friends. As much as it is fun, you are guaranteed that your time will be focused on getting work done. This prevents you from being too laid back and lazy.
2. Structured Timetable
In my opinion, I prefer a structured timetable because I like the idea of routine. Having routine means that I can organise myself and I can keep on top of things. I feel more productive as my day starts early and finishes early. I also now have more lessons per subject so I can concentrate on intense studying.
3. University Advice
There is more university advice from a sixth form as you have more opportunities to talk with people. Due to the fact I have tutor time and PSHEE, unlike college, it has helped me to prepare and think about university starting from Year 12. In college they would not start preparing until Year 13.
4. Early Finish Time
Finishing early allows me to get back home at a reasonable time to finish my homework. Time is really valuable to me, especially with the consideration I’m studying Art and Graphics, which are very time-consuming subjects. I also have time to watch a cheeky bit of anime and K-drama.
Some people may see a structured timetable as restricting and limits your freedom. It can be to an extent, but you know it is laid out like this for your own good.
2. Early Starts
I hate mornings.
3. Other Year Groups
Kids take up teacher’s time so they cannot dedicate their support fully on students taking their A-Levels.
The food is alright…could be better…just not as much variety as a college would have.
Other Factors to Consider
1. Making new friends
In both, college and sixth form, you will meet new people, without a doubt. From my experience there are more opportunities to make new friends at college because students tend to come from all different schools. Depending on your personality you can either find this exciting or quite daunting. Both college and sixth form will have opportunities for you to bond with class mates, however in different ways. College is more extreme and out there. I attended a freshers’ party which was a fun way to meet new people, but it can be quite overwhelming. On the other hand sixth forms help people to bond through class room based group activities, which are a lot less daunting and still quite fun.
2. Travelling distance
Travelling distance is a very large factor to consider. It is what made me transfer to a sixth form. You must keep in mind the cost of travelling and the time it takes to get there. Roughly it cost me £35 to travel to and fro college every week, so pretty expensive. The strikes made it 10 times worse. Most weeks there was a three day strike and some days I didn’t get home until 7pm. What made it even worse was the cold, rainy, typical British weather. This caused me to fall behind on time-consuming subjects, such as Art and Graphics. There would be some days when I would stay up until gone pass midnight and I would have to wake up early as my college was 2 trains and a bus journey away.
1. Travel Ticket or Oyster Card
If you are travelling far, find out if it is cheaper on an oyster card or to buy a travel ticket-it can save you a lot of money. You may also be able to get a student discount.
2. 3 Subjects
I now have 6 lessons per subject a week at sixth form rather than 4, however due to the extra hours I dropped a subject leaving me with 3. Both colleges and sixth forms do advise this because universities will only look at your top 3 grades, therefore the other topics are irrelevant. Also, the extra subjects that you take could impact on your other subjects, therefore potentially you could come out with lower grades, as your focus is on other topics too. However, if you enjoy the subjects, there is never any harm in wanting to learn more.
It is also advised that if you are taking 3 subjects, that you do an EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). EPQ is a qualification in which you look into any project you are passionate about, that you have not learnt about in lesson. Through this AS qualification universities are more likely to lower their expectations of grades for you to get in.
Both college and sixth form will allow you to experience new opportunities. Every school is different. As my sixth form is an academy it has more connections, therefore there are more opportunities to go to conferences and to be invited on trips. I definitely recommend attending as many conferences and trips as you can, because the more connections you make, the easier it is for your future. Also, this adds to your personal statement for UCAS, making you look more appealing towards universities.
Write all the lessons’ notes and read texts before you read it in class. It makes life so much easier when it comes to revising.
I would definitely recommend doing as much as you can in Year 12, so your UCAS personal statement looks more impressive and full. The more you show independence and the initiative to learn , the more you are likely to appeal to universities. Whether this is through joining NCS, doing DofE, learning a new instrument or language etc, it will give you a heads up for the future.
Pro For All – Student discount! (Make it rain! £$£$)
Hope this has helped!
Love Christie x