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The Big One: College or Sixth Form?

Choosing between college or sixth form – I’ve got to say one thing, which is the most important thing I’ve learned by having to make this decision…beware people lie and over-exaggerate.

When it came to choosing between college or sixth form I had teachers from my school telling me that the journey to college would take 2 hours each way, a slight exaggeration when the journeys average at 30 minutes. I know it’s shocking to think that your teachers whom you’ve known since you started Secondary School may be the ones who extend the truth.

So I chose to go to College. I can honestly say that this was the best decision I ever made. It allowed me to make a huge amount of new friends so my social life has rocketed, I have more freedom and I am treated as an adult. However, I can clearly see why staying on at your school for sixth form works so well for people. You know the area, you know the people and you know the buildings. I guess sixth form could be considered an easy, safe option. I know, I know I sound biased; I’ll break it down for you.

emma v2The pros of going to a college are that you meet so many ‘new’ interesting people from different areas that you’ve never known of before. This is because many people travel some distance to go to a good college. Meeting new people is never a bad thing. Going to a college gives you a lot of free time where you are completely allowed to do what you please and you are treated like an adult. You don’t have teachers constantly watching over you ensuring you don’t get into trouble. This is a much more adult environment.

However there are some disadvantages. If you are unmotivated to do work, you won’t do the work and it’s simple. Your teachers are not going to spend hours chasing you to do the work for your subjects. It is completely your responsibility to go to the lessons and do the work, these are your qualifications not theirs. The journey time can increase, depending where you live. But this isn’t a complete disadvantage; there is a lot of socialising to be done on a train!

With regards to sixth form, the main advantage is that it is less of a change from Year 11. The chances are that you know the teachers and other students (if you stay at your own school). You will feel comfortable in this environment and have a more personal experience with teachers, as they will give you more respect now that you are in sixth Form. Also, you don’t have to worry about making new friends, if that’s not your thing.

Despite this, sixth form is not completely the same to year 11, some of your friends will leave and they will be gaining huge new groups of friends that you might not know. You do not have as much freedom when it comes to free time as the teachers treat you more similarly to the lower years. The main reason that I didn’t choose to stay at my secondary school is that it would be to large a step for my little head to cope with if I went from school to university. College acts as a ‘middle-man’.

I guess I should also mention that I went to an all-girls secondary school. Don’t get me wrong though, college is not all about finding the love of your life but a mixture of boys and girls is much more healthy for teenagers, and I will always agree that an all girls school is not going to teach you the same way a mixed school or college will.

Obviously, choosing between going to a college and staying at a sixth form is a very personal choice for anyone. However if you are holding back from going to college because the new socialising intimidates you, do not let this be the reason that you stay for a safe option. I persuaded my friend to go to college, as she was hesitant due to anxiety issues, now she couldn’t be happier that she chose to move on.

I cannot deny that I am slightly biased, but you will hear so much from your school about why college is the worst possible choice and that sixth form is the only good option. I’m just going to go ahead and say it sixth forms need some people to stay so they are bound to encourage you to stay on. I guess my final message is if your sixth form offers what you need such as subjects, security and teachers that you love; stay. But if you are bored of the school environment and want a change to the way you study and your social life; then college is definitely the choice for you and this could be the perfect opportunity to spread your wings and move on.

By Emma Videan

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Moving On is devoted to helping young people make the right choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are free for schools, colleges and sixth forms to subscribe. Ask your Head Teacher, Head of Sixth Form or Career Advisor to get on the list!

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