COLUMN: Plan for the

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The sights of most year 11 students have now turned to the looming GSCE examinations. With months of hard work lying before them, the additional task of securing a place to study post-16 can feel like a pressure too far.

Some students will have already attended sixth form and college open evenings, looked at their course options, and submitted applications. Those students can now focus solely on their exams, and forget about what they’re going to do afterwards.

Others view holding off applying as ‘keeping their options open’. This is absolutely not the case. By delaying applying, they are narrowing their options, as many of the popular courses fill up early in the application process.

At Ashfield School Post 16 Centre, we do not have a cut-off date for applications. However, many of our courses fill up quickly. With a 99.8 per cent pass rate at A level, and an average grade of distinction-plus in vocational courses, we are a popular choice for students, but our determination to keep class sizes small means that sometimes, it’s not possible to offer a place.

Of course, not everyone knows what they want to do, and for those students it can be an incredibly difficult time. They may have no idea at all what job or career they want to pursue, and therefore what they should be studying post 16. If you’re one of those students, here are some things to consider when making your decision:

1. Would you prefer the academic route of applied A-levels or a more practical and ‘hands-on’ course that will train you for a specific job?

2. Book a meeting with a careers advisor, and don’t be afraid to ask advice from tutors/teachers at school.

3. Do some research on the internet

4. If you apply for a course then change your mind about what you want to study, you can usually switch to another course.

The most important thing to remember is that, at some point, this decision has to be made, so better to sort it out sooner rather later.