If a young person in your care is in year 11 (or even year 10) and you are helping them research post-16 options, our latest blog post has tips to get the most out of school/college open events.
Whether you choose to go along with your teenager, or they prefer to visit on their own (as some no doubt will), here are six tips to success:
1. Don’t delay
Many colleges and sixth forms will have held open events in the autumn term, but don’t worry – there are often more dates in the spring and even summer terms. However, going along as soon as possible can really help young people make an informed decision about their future. It’s a chance to ask questions and look around, but also to get a feel for the place and get careers advice from knowledgeable staff.
September may seem a long way away to many young people, but courses are open for applications now.
Individual school or college websites should have details of available open day dates, or we suggest contacting them now to find out. Also do bear in mind that larger schools and colleges may have different dates for different campuses/courses. For details of ours visit the Open Day pages.
2. Plan your strategy
If possible, book your attendance in advance – some colleges have online booking forms and it means they can keep you up to date with information/reminders.
On arrival at the event, read the open day guide/timetable if there is one. It can be tempting to grab whatever is handed to you and head straight in, but if there is a timetable it’s a good idea to have a quick read through.
Taking a few minutes to plan your visit will ensure you don’t miss anything. If there are welcome talks on offer, attending one will give you a good introduction to the place.
3. Ask questions
The staff at open events have a wealth of knowledge and will be very happy to answer your questions about their courses.
Often there will be specialist staff on hand to talk about finance, student support, apprenticeships and more, so feel free to bring a list of questions along with you! Where possible, encourage your son or daughter to chat directly to staff. If they do then choose that school or college, seeing those familiar faces in September can help them feel more comfortable from the start.
At some events you’ll also get chance to meet current students – the insight they can give is priceless. They’ll give a good idea of what life at college or sixth form is really like and this can make potential students feel at home before they’ve even applied.
4. Keep your eyes peeled
If you take a tour or are invited to have a walk around, have a look at the type of classrooms/workshops/labs available. Depending on the provider, it could be very different to school.
For example, at Nottingham College we have professional-standard facilities for creative arts; theatres and performance spaces for performing arts; practical workshops for a wide range of courses including: construction, motor vehicle and engineering; hair and beauty salons, and even an aircraft cabin for travel and tourism students!
Our High Pavement Sixth Form offers a purpose-built campus especially for A Levels, right on the doorstep of Nottingham Trent University, and our University Centre offers degree-level courses in the historic Lace Market.
5. Added extras?
Find out what else is on offer. What are the catering facilities like? How about library and computer rooms? Do they offer sports clubs or a Students’ Union? It’s all part of the student experience!
At Nottingham College, for example, we’re proud of our diverse student body and we have an active Students’ Union and lots of sports and activities to try.
6. Head for the application zone
Did you know that some open events have dedicated areas where your son or daughter can apply on the day for a course that interests them? The great thing about this is that any questions you have can be answered there and then, and staff are on hand to help.
At Nottingham College we encourage potential students to apply early – there is no obligation to take up the place at this stage of course, but it means they can get the ball rolling and prepare nice and early. They can also book onto taster sessions, which run on various dates and give a more hands-on college experience.