Checklist for choosing post-16 education

Going on to college is exciting. We want to help you choose the right college.

It is important that you:

  • discuss this with your parents or carers
  • discuss this with teachers and careers advisers
  • look at college websites and brochures
  • visit colleges that you are interested in (you can visit during open days, or your parents, carers or school may want to arrange another time to visit).

Here are some suggestions that may help you get the best out of a visit to a college:

Before you visit a college

  • Discuss with those who help you at school, and your parents or carers, what support you may need at college.
  • Think about what you would like to find out. What questions do you want to ask? Which people do you want to meet?
  • Ask for and read the college’s own brochure or prospectus, or look at their website.
  • Talk to careers staff about the best course for you, and what your longer-term ambitions are.

Visiting the college

  • You may want to arrange the visit at a time when young people will be in college.
  • Try to spend enough time in the college to allow you to make an informed decision.
  • Think about how you will travel to and from college.
  • Try, if possible, to meet the staff who you will be with, for example, tutors.
  • Ask the person showing you around any questions you have.

In the classroom

It may be helpful to know:

  • what your timetable will be
  • who will be supporting you
  • how you and your parents or carers will know how well you are doing.

External support

It may be helpful to explore, where relevant, whether you will continue to get support from other professionals, such as speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, and occupational therapists. Do you still need this support, and if so, how will this fit in with your timetable? Would you miss any classes?

The college in general

It may be helpful to explore whether:

  • the college has any equipment you need
  • you will need help at breaks or at lunch
  • any extra activities will be available after college.

Residential colleges

Additional points to think about and questions to ask:

  • Can you meet the people who will care for you?
  • Can you visit the dormitory or bedroom that you will use?
  • What privacy will you have?
  • Who would you go to if you are worried or have a problem?
  • What arrangements are there for you to phone home or receive phone calls?
  • What arrangements are there if you need attention during the night?
  • What are the bathroom facilities and routines?
  • What arrangements are there for medical care?
  • What opportunities will there be for you to join out-of-college activities, for example, youth groups, sport, or other leisure activities?
  • Will you get the same opportunities to shop, cook, clean and relax as you would at home?
  • If it is proposed that you remain at college over the weekend, what would be the range and programme of activities?

College atmosphere - overall impressions

  • Does the college feel welcoming?
  • Do you think you would be happy at college?
  • Do young people seem well-behaved and happy?

If there is anything you do not understand or are not happy with, don’t be afraid to ask or speak about it.

After the visit

  • Discuss your thoughts and feelings about the college.
  • Were the course and the college what you expected?
  • Are you confident that the college can meet your needs?
  • Discuss your plans at school so that they can support you in making your college application.

The school and college will liaise with us to ensure that we can make your move on to college as easy as possible.