Further education at 16+
How do I get on an FE College course?
Making a decision about the best college course could be easy - if you know what job/career you want to do, know your grades, have a travel plan, etc.
However, most students are not in this position!
But help is at hand! Ask teachers, tutors, careers advisers at school and college, your familiy and friends for their advice and support. Don't be afraid to ask for help as getting on the right course is an important first step to getting to where you want to go in the future.
You can find out what courses are on offer at FE Colleges by looking at their websites, or read on for a eight point plan for getting onto a college course.
Eight point plan for getting on a college course
1. Find a college
There are 100s of colleges nationally. Look at a map of all the Sheffield area colleges and see which you could travel to. Explore their sites to see what they offer. You can also search on the Internet for the type of course you are looking for and see which colleges offer it.
2. Find a course
Find a course to suit your interests, future career plans, etc. Check the entry criteria to see if you think you will meet the grades required and have a back up plan, just in case. Get advice from your chosen college if you are not sure.
3. Investigate the travel options
How will you get there? How long will it take to get there? How much will it cost? Can you share a lift?
If you are on a low income or live more than three miles from the college you may want to contact the college to find out if there is any help towards the cost of travel.
4. Attend a college Open Evening/day
An open evening/day will give you a chance to look around the college and talk to staff and current students. There may also be formal presentations about different courses, college life, etc.
Useful questions you could ask at an open event:
- What are the entry requirements?
- How is the course taught and assessed?
- What do you learn about on the course?
- Will this course help me to get into a specific career?
- What do current students say about the course?
- Where do people go on to after they finish the course?
- What opportunities are there for employability or volunteering activities?
- What help is available for me if I have specific learning needs or a disability.
- What are the facilities like – library, student common rooms
- What can you get involved in outside of lessons?
5. Find out extra costs
Find out if there are any extra costs associated with your course like exam fees, trips, materials, tools, a uniform, etc.?
Find out if there is any financial support with these costs?
6. Complete an application form
Complete an application form
If you have applied for several different types of courses the college may contact you to offer you some careers advice.
Each college has their own application form which may be available online to download or to request as a paper form. There may be different application forms for part time or full time courses or different type of course, such as Access to HE.
Applying for a Higher Education level course in a FE College:
If you are applying for a Foundation Degree you will need to use the UCAS application form www.ucas.com/apply
- If you are applying for a HNC or HND course you will need to check if you need to complete the college’s application form or fill in a UCAS form.
7. Prepare for an interview
- You may be invited to an audition, an aptitude test or interview depending on the course you are applying for.
- If you are set a piece of work to bring along make sure you put some effort into this, as this may be as important as the interview.
- Make sure you are enthusiastic about the course and be prepared to talk about yourself. Below are some typical interview questions.
- Let the college know if you have additional needs or a disability and if they need to support you at the interview or you would like to bring someone along.
- If the college is not sure that you will get the grades needed for the level of course that you have applied for they may make you an offer for a lower level course. They can confirm the actual course when you have your exam grades.
Typical Interview Questions
- What do you know about the subject you are applying to study?
- Why are you interested in this subject?
- Why do you want to attend this college in particular?
- What are your short-term and long-term goals?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- Have you ever done any volunteering?
- What makes you more suitable for the course than another applicant with the same grades?
- What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
8. You have been offered a place!
You will hear in writing if you have been offered a place or not. You may be offered a place on an alternative course if you are not successful in your first choice.
Make sure you let the college know if you want to accept your place so the college continues to hold the place open for you.
After you have been offered a place..
You might be invited for a taster day or induction event to see if you like the course, before you get your results.
- When you have received your exam results confirm your offer or your back up offer, if you have one.
- You will need to bring your exam grades to college when you enrol on your course.
- The colleges offer lots of support and advice so if you change your mind or don’t get the results you were hoping for you can contact the college to speak to a careers adviser.
Before Starting your Course
- Check you know your enrolment day and any fees you need to pay and college term dates.
- If you need help with financial costs speak to the college advice team to see if they can help you.
- Order any uniform, materials and books you will need.
- Make sure you have investigated how you are going to get to college if you are using public transport.
- It is really important that you do not miss the start of your course, so please don't book holidays during the key dates or you may lose your place on the course.