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College Mythbusters

We know leaving school and deciding to come to college can be a daunting thought for some.

Staying on at sixth form can often feel like the safe option because you know the teachers and have made lots of friends there. You may have also heard a number of myths about what it’s like studying at college and finding it hard to make an informed decision. We have put together the 10 most common myths about studying at college to help you understand the fact from the fiction:

  1. Most of the College’s courses are vocational, but I need to study A-Levels because I want to go to University
    University entry requirements are based on UCAS points. The majority of South Essex College’s vocational courses offer UCAS points, just like A-Levels. In fact, one Level 3 vocational course (for example a BTEC) is the equivalent to studying three A-Levels. A triple distinction in a vocational course carries almost identical UCAS points as three A grade A-Levels. Vocational courses allow you to specialise in your chosen area of study meaning you will have a stronger understanding of the subject before starting your degree. A-Levels can be ideal if you’re not sure what you want to do and want to keep your options open. We do offer A-Levels if that is the route you wish to go down.
  2. My school has a sixth form and is closer to home so it’s more convenient
    While your school may be closer to home, the College’s campuses are connected by numerous main public transport links. Several travel companies also offer student discounts, and bursaries are available to those who are eligible. Shuttle buses are also available for students who study at our Stephenson Road Campus.
  3. Students aren’t in college every day so they don’t learn as much as sixth form students
    The College day is very different to school. Days are slightly longer to better represent a day in the workplace which helps you prepare yourself for the world of work. This is why you might not be in College every day of the week, but teaching time remains in line with sixth forms. The days you are not in College are ideal opportunities for independent study as well as securing work experience to support your studies - most courses have work experience time built in to them.
  4. College is much bigger than school, so students aren’t as well looked after
    Safety is our number one priority. In the College’s most recent Ofsted report, inspectors noted ‘Learners feel safe, and are kept safe, in college. They know how to report any concerns.’ Dedicated student support teams are also available to assist those in need. Each campus also has a college guardian whose job it is to monitor student behaviour and challenge those who do not meet our expected standards. Campuses also have barrier entry systems to ensure only those who should be on site are able to enter.
  5. I already know the teachers and my way around school, so I’ll have a better experience
    Going to college is a great way to experience a change of environment, make new friends and prepare you for the world of work. Studying at College allows you to experience independence away from school and you’re treated like an adult. Plus for the majority of students there’s no uniform, except those studying on certain courses where an industry specification uniform is required.
  6. The teaching standard at college isn’t as high as at school
    Courses at the College are delivered by industry experts in their field combining theory with practical study. A lot of tutors have previously worked in their industry, and some still do, so they are able to bring first-hand experience to the course. Tutors also work closely with local businesses which is great for work experience.
  7. I’ll have to sit a tough interview to get on my course at college
    The interview process is informal and designed to give us the opportunity to find out about your interests and abilities to ensure you are going on the right course. We offer a wide range of courses so there is something for everyone.
  8. I’m not going to get the grades I need for the course so I can’t go to college
    We understand that sometimes students do not achieve their predicted grades, but that doesn’t mean you can’t study with us. We offer different levels of study so it might be the case that you are placed on a lower level course to give you the opportunity to work towards studying on the higher level. If you do not achieve a grade 4 or higher in GCSE English and maths, you will re-sit them at College.
  9. I just want to get a job, coming to college is just a waste of time
    Gaining a qualification at college is a much better way of getting into work than starting a job unqualified. If you want to get into work, an Apprenticeship might be the best route for you because Apprentices learn ‘on-the-job’ and are paid a wage.
  10. I don’t know what I want to do so I can’t apply for college
    It’s not unusual for young people to be unsure of what they want to do. That’s why we hold a number of open events so you can come in and speak to our tutors about the different courses available. We also have a dedicated team of course advisers on hand to go through your options. Before starting a course you will sit an informal interview to make sure the course is right for you. You can also change your mind at any point and admissions will be happy to change your course choice for you, subject to availability.