WHEN making the choice of what further education to pursue it’s very important to look at as many options as possible and ask for advice on your decision.
With colleges and schools offering such a wide range of studies, making use of resources such as the careers service, can be a good place to start.
Emma Widdowson, a careers advisor at East Durham College, has had lots of experience giving advice on the best courses to choose and what to think about during the process.
She said: “Essentially, there are two main options, but a range of qualifications to choose from – continue in full-time education, either at school or college, or start work-based training.
“A-levels require a lot more academic study as there are more exams and more subjects, whereas BTechs focus on one subject.
“In general, NVQs are much more practically based and are often based in the workplace like business administration or hospitality.”
Having dealt with hundreds of students, Emma was clear about the things that are important to consider.
She said: “It’s really important that students realise the step up that A-level can be, so, for example, in some subjects we are asking only those who get a B to consider studying the subject at A-level.
“Another mistake that can be made is some students pick subjects they have not done before without properly researching what the course involves.
“It’s essential that they should really research the course content to make sure it will hold their interest.
“And even if they’re unsure after looking at the information, they can go and ask to speak to the A-level teachers about their course to help them decide.
Emma, who had worked at the college for two years, also stressed the importance of thinking ahead to what jobs students would like to move into eventually.
She said: “Even though it can seem a long way off it is really important to think about what sort of career you would like to pursue.
“But they should also remember not to panic if during the course they have decided on they suddenly realise they don’t want to do that job for the rest of their life.
“In any course there are lots of skills you learn that are transferrable – such as organisation, IT and discipline.
“It’s also worth thinking about doing some voluntary work as it will give you valuable work experience and help you stand out in your application.”
* For more information on further education choices, see the Echo’s Options supplement on Saturday.