Thinking of going to college?

If you want to go to college or do an apprenticeship, you will have to apply. Schools use the UCAS Form in order to do this - see below.

Your school may not use the UCAS form - if not, you must complete an application form for each college you want to apply to - pick one up at Open Days or go in and ask!

The UCAS form enables you to apply for college courses. You fill it in on a computer at school. It is not just to do 'A' levels though, it's for any further education courses, but it is best to name the college you want to go to most as your first choice. You still need to fill this form in if you want to do an apprenticeship.

Your school may not use the UCAS form - if not you must complete an application form for each college you want to apply to - pick one up at Open Days or go in and ask!

If you have a disability or learning difficulty tick the disclosure box on the form so they know you'll need support to enable you to learn and achieve to the best of your ability.

If your first language isn't English make sure the college know so that they are able to fully support your needs. Mohammed says

'I am 19 years old and studying a diploma level 3 course at college. If I'd had support in making the right choices for me before I started college, I would be at University by now. I started off in the wrong direction for me and had to change course and college'.

If you haven't lived in the UK for long and are still learning English, you can enrol on ESOL courses at different levels - these courses will give you recognised accreditation, usually in City and Guilds and Skills for life ESOL from Entry upto Level 2 in speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Sometimes you can do a part time ESOL course as well as another Level 1 full time course, and this helps you progress onto Level 2 full time courses later. Ruban says',

'When I was in my school my Virtual School Improvement Officer helped me write my CV and personal statement, also she helped me choose my college course. I'm in Leicester College now on a Level 1 Motor Vehicle course and feel I'm on the right course for me but I'm also doing more ESOL to help me improve my English more so I can go onto a Level 2 course next year'

So ask for lots of information and guidance!

Interviews are held in the spring term so you usually know by the beginning of the summer term which colleges have offered you a place. Don't forget to send back your acceptance form!

Your Personal Statement

How do I write a personal statement?

You should be given the chance to draft this at school before you type it into your UCAS form, but if you're stuck, talk to your Careers Adviser at school, Form Tutor, Designated Teacher, Virtual School Improvement Officer, 1-1 tutor or mentor. Your personal statement is very important because it tells colleges and employers about you as a whole person, not just about your academic ability. After you've done it once you'll be able to update it and use it again if you want to go to Uni – here's an idea to get you started: look at templates which your school and careers adviser will show when you start to fill in your application forms. Let us know which format you like best so we can put it in this Information and Guidance section to help other Children in Care.

Don't Know Which College to Apply For?

Look at more than one college website, (see contacts list below) check out the courses, find out when Open Days are, write the dates in your planner, tell your Carers and ask them to go with you to as many Open Days as possible. Aaron says ' I went to the Children in Care Celebration of Achievement Awards and picked up some information on college Open Days. Now I know I should look at more than one college to get the right course for me.' When you walk around the college, talk to the students and staff and ask questions, you'll start to get a good idea about how you feel about it but don't forget to pick up an information pack too.


Considering an Apprenticeship?

If you're considering an apprenticeship you must go to college Open Days and look through their prospectuses too, as some colleges recruit their own apprentices then match them with an employer. They also have links with the big companies because colleges teach the theory part of the apprenticeship. Big companies and public services also give talks in schools and have their own Open Days and application forms as well. Sophia says,

'I really want to do an apprenticeship but I know I'll need help filling in the forms and I don't know how I'll find a placement - what shall I do?'

Ask your school Careers Adviser (every school has to have one), talk to your Carers, Designated Teacher and Virtual School Improvement Officer. Also, someone may know small, family run companies who also take on apprentices. Buy a local paper, use your local Library, do your research on the internet and use the 'phone - it's good to talk and give a positive, enthusiastic impression!

There are three levels of Apprenticeship, but if you have just moved out of secondary education and are aged 16/17 you are most likely to be looking for a Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship. This will be a one or two year programme which includes NVQ Level 2 qualifications, Functional Skills, and Technical Certificates. When you finish this you may decide to take the opportunity to increase your skills at a higher level and apply for a Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship, and even a Level 4/5 Higher Apprenticeship when you are 18+ (see the HE section of this website).

This website will help you get started:

What About My Friends?

Yes, it's easy to do what your friends are doing, easy to stay on at the school you already know well, easy to say you just want to get a job, but it needs to be the right choice for you, especially if you have a particular career in mind or especially if you already have a particular interest, talent, 'hands-on' skills or work experience. Whatever you decide to do, it should be a really exciting time for you because you will be expected to be more independent and will hopefully be studying or working in an area you have a genuine interest in.

It can be challenging because you have to take more responsibility for doing things yourself, so it's good to know who and where you can go for help and support. Think of it as part of your positive pathway to your own future, with lots of people to ask directions from along the way. The Virtual School, your Social Worker and wherever you choose to study or work will all want you to feel happy so you are able to achieve your true potential and be successful. Even if you go to college for only a few days and work for an employer on the other days as part of an apprenticeship scheme, there will be people at work and college to support you. Maria says,

'I had lots of choices on what to do at college because I had lots of help so I would not change it now'.