College vs. Sixth Form

If you are leaving school soon, it is time to start thinking about your next steps. One of the biggest decisions you need to make is whether to stay on at your school’s sixth form or attend a sixth form college or further education college. This is a great opportunity to decide what is right for you.

Sixth forms offer a variety of A-level and BTEC qualifications and are attached to a secondary school, which is why they are often referred to as school sixth forms. Sixth form colleges offer the same provision as a school sixth form, however, they are separate from secondary schools. Colleges offer a wider variety of courses, as well as apprenticeships, access courses, higher education courses and often some bachelor’s degrees.

What are vocational qualifications?

Most colleges offer A-levels, similar to school sixth forms, but they also offer other qualifications and subjects at a variety of levels, including vocational courses.

Vocational qualifications offer practical learning programmes that relate to specific job roles or job sectors. There are many different types of vocational qualifications in a wide range of subjects at all levels. Vocational courses are designed to help students learn in a practical way about a specific job area, helping them to get the skills needed to start a job, progress in a career or go on to higher education.

Studying a vocational subject at college can offer a fast-track to employment or university as students gain hands-on practical experience that enables them to demonstrate that they are better prepared for the workplace or higher levels of study.

Come out of your comfort zone

Further education colleges usually offer a wider range of courses compared with school sixth forms and sixth form colleges.

The environment at a college is generally more ‘adult’, and students are expected to take more responsibility for themselves and their learning. Colleges tend to be slightly more relaxed when comparing them with school sixth forms, and students usually address their teachers on a first name basis. Sixth form colleges tend to sit somewhere in the middle between traditional school sixth forms and further education colleges.

If you are looking for a change, college could be for you. With hundreds more students per year than at school sixth forms and sixth form colleges – and mixed ages within classes – there is more chance of expanding your circle and interacting with a variety of people in what closely resembles the working world.

Why choose Capel Manor College?

As a student at Capel Manor College you will experience a different learning setting from your time at school. You will be immersed in a hands-on, creative and practical outdoor learning environment, with exceptional, industry-experienced tutors who are experts in their fields.

Our tutors will help you gain renowned qualifications valued by land-based employers across the world. As part of your studies, you have the unique opportunity to obtain real-world experience and help take care of the College’s estates, gardens, farm, zoos and commercial businesses.

Many of our students have come to us looking for a different way of learning to their previous school or sixth form environment, and have flourished while studying with us. One of our floristry students’ Shannon is a great example of a student who discovered her passion for learning once she found the right place and course for her:

“I had never been sure of what I wanted to study or what I wanted to be in the future. I actually never really thought I was capable of much until attending Capel Manor College. I experienced a suitable educational environment for me for the first time. My course was fun, the tutors are so lovely and have a brilliant way of teaching. My tutors have pushed me from day one and have such a clear understanding of how everyone learns differently and needs different support. I think it is really important for educational spaces to provide good support systems and in my experience Capel Manor College goes above and beyond.”

You can read Shannon’s full story here and view more of our student and alumni success stories here.

What about university?

Universities do not prefer one or the other. In fact, both can lead to university as long as you put in the hard work and get the grades you need.

Next steps

You may find it helpful to ask for support or advice from the people you are closest to such as your family and friends, as well as the careers guidance team at your school.

If you would like to join Capel Manor College this month, there is still time to apply and enrol for an immediate start. Find out more here.