The ultimate checklist for choosing a college

This guide provides a college selection checklist, allowing students and parents to make decisions that incorporate their academic and social priorities.

Choosing the right college is an important decision that can impact the direction of your career. It requires careful consideration for high school pupils, and navigating this important choice can be exciting. 

So where do we start?


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Starting early, and when to begin the process

The first step when choosing a college is to start the process early. Ideally, students should begin exploring their options and gathering information in Year 10 or the beginning of Year 11. 

Starting early gives you enough time to research different colleges and visit campuses without feeling rushed.


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Understanding your priorities – academic and social factors

College application form

Before diving into college websites and research, it’s important to understand what you’re looking for in a college experience. Consider the following factors:

  • Academic programmes: Look for colleges that offer relevant courses and good facilities for your areas of interest. Also, try to find out how strong their connections are to the industries you’re interested in.
  • Financial considerations: Understand the cost of tuition and other expenses, if there are any. However, in many instances, if you’re a school leaver then further education options are free.
  • Social and extracurricular activities: Consider the campus culture, extracurricular activities, and social environment. It’s essential to find a college where you can thrive, not only academically, but personally.


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Researching colleges – using online and offline resources

Use both online and offline resources to research potential colleges. College websites, college fairs, and even YouTube can provide a lot of information. Online forums and social media can also offer unfiltered insights from current students and alumni.


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Making the most of campus visits

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Campus visits are a critical component of the college selection process. They help you to get a feel for the campus atmosphere, meet tutors and students, and ask questions. Try to visit when classes are in session to get an authentic sense of day-to-day life on campus.

Here at Access Creative College, you can visit any of our UK campuses or open days. We are located in Manchester, Norwich, London, Birmingham, Plymouth, Lincoln and Bristol.


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Navigating the application process

In most circumstances, application forms are completed online, via the college’s website. Applicants are required to submit personal details, alongside academic info including current school and projected GCSEs. Each application process differs slightly, depending on the college you’re applying for.


When should a year 11 pupil apply for college in the UK?

The application process for most college or sixth-form courses begins in October. While schools can assist in creating submissions, students can also undertake this step from home.


When is it too late to apply for college in the UK?

The application deadline for colleges varies by institution, but typically, it’s advised to submit applications by the end of January of the year you wish to start. This timeline reflects the majority of colleges and sixth forms, providing enough time for processing applications ahead of the new academic year (starting in September).

However, some institutions may offer flexibility with their deadlines, especially for courses that are not at full capacity. It’s essential to check directly with the specific college or sixth form you’re interested in for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding deadlines.

At Access Creative College, our students can enrol up to the end of the 2nd week – from when our courses begin. Beyond that (in weeks 3-4), each case will be judged independently by our Head of Admissions and the Head of Campus. After that point, it is not possible to enrol. 


Can you apply for college in year 10 in the UK?

While you cannot apply to college in Year 10, it is an excellent time to start exploring your options.


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Making the final decision

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After gathering all the necessary information, it’s time to make your final decision. Weigh up your options carefully, and discuss them with family and mentors. Consider creating a pros and cons list for each of your top choices to help clarify your thoughts.

By following this checklist, students and their families can approach the college selection process with confidence and clarity, making an informed decision that best suits their academic, financial, and social needs.

At Access Creative College (ACC) we offer pathways for those keen on starting a career within the creative industries. Established with over 30 years of rich history in nurturing creative talent, we pride ourselves on being the largest national independent training provider in the UK, specialising in an industry-led approach to education.


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Choose Access Creative College

Level 2 college students working together

Whether it’s Esports, Games, Media, Music, or Computing, here at ACC we have designed further education courses as a response to the evolving demands of the creative sectors. Our students are not just educated but are industry-ready, and equipped with the knowledge and skills that resonate with current market needs.

One of our unique areas of focus is our emphasis on practical, hands-on learning experiences. By building a direct connection between students and the industry, we simulate real-world exposure through live projects, workshops, and events where learners can showcase their abilities and engage with professionals. 

Our dedication to providing access to creative education is evident in our wide range of courses available. From computer game design, graphic design, music performance, music production to e-sports, there’s a course for every aspiring creative at ACC. 

Last updated on: 21st June 2024