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Ultimately every student must make the decision about the college and course that is right for them!
Do some research into the colleges close to you; can you get there, how long is the journey? Do these colleges seem like somewhere you could happily study for one, two or three years; is there support for students, financial help, active clubs and societies?
And what about the courses? Ask yourself where you want them to lead, what do you enjoy, what are your strengths and interests?
Ask the people who know you best; teachers, tutors, your family and friends for their advice and support in making these choices. Don't be afraid to ask for help; getting on the right course is an important first step to getting to where you want to go in the future.
All colleges hold open evenings or days and invite prospective students to visit, look around and ask lots of questions informally, without committing to making an application. Some colleges have admissions teams or careers advisors that can provide further advice and support for students looking to make an application.
You can find out what courses are on offer at FE Colleges by looking at their websites, or read on for an eight point plan for getting onto a college course.
There are more than 25 colleges in the South West region and 100s nationally. Look at a map of all the South West colleges and see which you could travel to. Explore their sites to see what they offer. You can also search on the Internet for the type of course you are looking for and see which colleges offer it.
Find a course to suit your interests, strengths and future career plans. Check the entry criteria to see if you think you will meet the grades required and then have a back-up, just in case your exams don’t go to plan. Many study programmes such as diplomas and BTECs have different levels of entry but others are stricter with only one set of entry criteria such as A levels. Get advice from your chosen college if you are not sure
How will you get there? How long will it take to get there? How much will it cost? Can you share a lift? How long is the journey?
If you are on a low income or live more than three miles from the college you may want to contact the college to find out if there is any help towards the cost of travel. Lots of colleges offer travel passes through deals with local bus or train companies. Some colleges may have funds or bursaries to support students with these expenses.
An open evening/day will give you a chance to look around the college and talk to staff and current students. There may also be presentations about different courses or aspects of college life, such as enrichment activities, sports clubs, or Student Union, for example.
Further Education for under 19s is free but some study programmes may have additional costs associated with them. Find out if there are any extra costs like exam fees, trips, materials, tools, a uniform.
All colleges are able to advise on financial support for students (learner support funds, bursaries, grants). Often these funds are based on your household earnings. Find out if you are eligible for any financial support with these costs by enquiring at the college.
If you have applied for several different types of courses the college may contact you to offer you some careers advice.
Each college has their own application form which may be available online to download or to request as a paper form. There may be different application forms for part time or full time courses or different types of course, such as Access to HE. Once you have submitted an application to the college, they will invite you for an interview.
If you are applying for a Foundation Degree you will need to use the UCAS application form www.ucas.com/apply. The UCAS cycle is annual. The deadline for most applications is January 15th each year. The cycle closes to all late applicants on June 30th.
If you are applying for a HNC or HND course you will need to check if you need to complete the college’s application form or fill in a UCAS form.
You will hear in writing if you have been offered a place or not. You may be offered a place on an alternative course if you are not successful in your first choice.
Make sure you let the college know if you want to accept your place so the college continues to hold the place open for you.
You might be invited for a taster day or induction event to see if you like the course, before you get your results.
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