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'Why I chose studying at an FE college over staying on at school'

Mollie Stevens, a student who has decided to move to an FE college after completing her GCSEs, writes:

For many 16-year-olds, the decision whether to move to an FE college or stay on at a school sixth form can seem very complicated. There are many things to consider, such as course availability, travel and costs, as well as how comfortable you’d feel at either kind of establishment. I recently opted for an FE college over my school sixth form. Here are a few of the reasons why.

First of all, I looked into the courses that were available at various colleges and sixth forms around my local area, and found out what each institution specialised in.

I’m particularly interested in textiles, so naturally I took an interest in institutions that were renowned for their arts provision. After visiting numerous open days and evenings, I discovered that there was only one institution that offered all of the courses I wished to take: an FE college.

Fortunately, this college is recognised for its success in its artistic fields. I was also impressed by the atmosphere, which seems perfect for the way I learn.

As a student who has long suffered from anxiety, I gain much-needed confidence through practical experience, especially when socialising with new groups of people. Due to my shyness, I find I thrive in an independent environment, and the course structure and high expectations of the college appealed to me greatly. Many friends and family members actively encouraged me to move to an FE college rather than my school's sixth form, as they agreed that this would help me control my anxiety.  

However, colleges aren’t without their disadvantages. One downside is that the class sizes can be considerably larger than in school sixth forms. This can mean that there's less one-on-one support for learners but, for me, the fact that there will be more students in my class should help me to overcome how I hate drawing attention to myself, particularly when I’m struggling and need to ask for help. Asking for assistance is an essential life skill and tackling this will inevitably prove to be beneficial in the long run.

For me, an FE college seems ideal, but it really is a matter of weighing up all considerations and deciding on what you want to achieve. It’s important not to lose sight of your needs and ensure that you choose to study at the institution that's best placed to meet them.

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