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The benefits of studying in a college
By Catherine Sezen, 14-19 Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC)
When you finish your A Levels, there’s a very strong push towards the traditional route of university. This doesn’t always have to be the case
If you already know what job you want to do, then it may be worth exploring other options. Instead of taking a full-time three-year degree and ending up with debts of up to £50,000, there are other qualifications which can give you both the qualification and the work experience that will get you a job.
Always remember that there are some areas of work which do not necessarily need a degree – for example, in accountancy you can take a professional qualification or apprenticeship instead. Colleges offer BTECs, NVQs and City and Guilds, as well as A Levels. Courses are available in everything from Agriculture to Games Design, Construction Skills to Music Technology at a level suited to you.
Colleges work very closely with local employers which can mean access to work experience, as well as studying qualifications which will give you the skills to get a job in your local area. Teaching at colleges is often led by industry-qualified lecturers using similar facilities and equipment to what you would find in the workplace.
There is also the option of higher education in college, whether that’s a foundation degree, Higher National Diploma or a Higher Apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a job with training so you can earn and learn at the same time, and your college will be able to help you find an employer who wants to take on an apprentice.
There are a wide range of courses available – whether it’s art and design or construction – which can set you on your way to your future career. A college education will teach you other skills as well, the so-called ‘soft’ skills that employers are looking for, including working as a team, leadership and self-reliance.
Perhaps most importantly, a college offers local opportunities, on your doorstep, so whatever stage you’re at now, and wherever you want to go, college is a great place to start.