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Thursday, 17 March 2022

How to choose the right course when you leave school

Your time at school is coming to an end after over a decade. You can’t wait to move on to the next stage of your life and start an exciting course learning something you’re really passionate about. You’re looking at our course explorer page, and… you’re stuck. What do you actually want to do?

If this sounds like you, don’t worry – it’s completely normal not to be sure what the future holds for you when you leave school. It’s a weird time of endings and beginnings, and it can feel like choosing the right course now is both vitally important and an overwhelming task.

So, here are some tips to get you started in choosing your course.

Think about what you enjoy

It might sound obvious, but thinking about which subjects you like at school and, importantly, how you enjoy spending your free time, will be really helpful in narrowing down your course options. For example, you might enjoy art classes and enjoy playing video games – so Games Design could be a perfect choice for you. On the other hand, maybe you don’t love PE at school but love going to the gym and keeping fit in your spare time – looking at our Sport and Personal Training courses could be an option as the college environment is so different from a school setting. Making these connections between what you enjoy and the course options you have can be really beneficial in making a decision.

Consider what you want to do in the future

You might have a career in mind, or maybe you have no clue what your future job will look like. If you know the industry you’re interested in or the role you want, your school’s progression adviser or our college Careers team can help you look at the routes you could take to get there, including which courses you could choose at this point in your education. If you’ve got no idea what you want to do, it’s still a good idea to talk to a professional – they can point you in the direction of resources and even quizzes to help you narrow down your options. You can also do your own research – for example, if you dream of becoming a teacher because you’ve been inspired by a relative or a member of staff at your school, have a chat with them to find out how they got where they are. Remember though that you’ve got plenty of time ahead of you to discover your career and the course you choose now won’t limit you to one industry or role forever.

Look at study and assessment modes

Some courses are more exam-based while some are fully assessed with coursework. Most are a mixture. But it’s definitely worth thinking about what suits you best as this may affect which course or level you choose to study. Similarly, many courses are completely based on-campus (pandemic permitting!) while others offer a more blended approach with some work completed at home. It’s important to consider how you prefer to work and how you prefer to be assessed in choosing the course you want to take. Use our course explorer to view the details of our courses and find out the study and assessment modes they use, or contact us if you’re still unsure.

Speak to staff and students at an open day

Doing your own research is crucial but Google can only get you so far – there’s really no substitution for going along to an open day and chatting to the tutors and students who are involved with the courses. As well as helping to judge if the college itself is the right fit for you, getting a real sense from the subject teams of what the different courses and levels entail will be vital in helping you pick which one you want to do. The Student Services team and Careers team will also be there to answer any other queries you might have about the college or the support you can get here. An open day gives you the opportunity to explore all your course options in one place so it’s ideal if you’re struggling to decide.

Remember that it’s okay if there’s no perfect course for you

You might feel internal or external pressure to find the absolute perfect course that will give you the exact qualifications and skills to head into one specific career. For some people that’s realistic – for most, it’s not. You’re only just leaving school. The course you choose doesn’t need to be perfect because you don’t need to commit to one route at this point in your life. Firstly, you will be able to change your course up until October if you realise when you’ve started that it’s really not what you expected or want to do. Secondly, even continuing with a course that’s maybe not right, but is good for right now, will give you valuable qualifications, skills and knowledge which you can apply in any career or further study. Don’t worry if you can’t find a course which is 100% perfect for you in every way – just get started and we’ll help you to make the most of whichever course you choose.