Choosing where to study or train

After GCSEs/National 5s, you could stay in school, go to a sixth form college, go to a further education (FE) college, or join a work-based training provider.

FE college

  • Go to college open days – they’re great opportunities to talk to students and tutors. 
  • College is an adult environment where you take more responsibility for yourself and your learning – there's support and guidance available, but it‘s also a chance for you to prepare for work and life post-education.
  • There's usually a range of sport and leisure opportunities – employers and universities look for evidence of your wider interests and achievements, so check out college clubs and activities!

School sixth form

  • If you’re already at a school with a sixth form, you could stay on – you already know the place, the teachers, and your friends (who might stay on too).
  • It’s still worth looking at other schools – sixth forms vary in size, course offering, and subjects, as well as extra activities and opportunities you might like.
  • Check whether they offer the courses you want – wherever you choose to go, make sure you'll be studying subjects that interest you.

Sixth form college

  • Sixth form colleges can be more informal than school sixth forms.
  • They’re usually bigger, and they can often offer you more study options.
  • You'll get to make new friends from different schools.

Training providers

  • There are lots of training providers offering a wide range of work-related training and qualifications, including NVQs and apprenticeships.
  • Some are specialists focusing on particular sectors and job roles – such as construction, business administration, childcare, or hair and beauty.
  • Training providers work closely with employers who offer work-based training as part of placements or employment.

Online study

  • Many Level 3 qualifications such as A levels and BTECs can be studied online.
  • This option allows you the flexibility to fit your studies around your lifestyle and commitments, such as a job or caring responsibilities.
  • You will need to pay fees – for example, for A levels there are course fees, exam and invigilation fees, and for some courses there is an additional fee for the practical elements. These can vary between providers, so do research carefully before choosing.

Top tips

  1. Search for schools, colleges, and training providers in your area that offer the course(s) or subjects you want to study.
  2. Go to open days – these are great opportunities to explore schools or colleges, and to find out more about the courses on offer.
  3. Find out as much as you can – college life and work-based training can be quite different from secondary school and the education you’ve known so far.