Find out about the local area around their chosen Campus, what shops and facilities are nearby? They may have a long journey so finding out what’s there will make them feel more confident about getting around;
Do a dry run of their chosen campus; take the bus/train/drive with your child, or encourage them to do it on their own. This is so they know how long it will take to travel there. There’s nothing worse than feeling stressed and being late on your first day;
Make sure their finances are in order, do they need to top up their oyster card or have some cash for lunch? Find out about how College can help with their finances beforehand, especially if you are on benefits.
Find out about their course, is there anything you can do to help them prepare? Talk to their tutor or attend a College open day to find out more information about courses and College life
Work out the course timetable with your child. At College you are more likely to have a less packed-out timetable, compared to school. There could be several hours between lessons/lectures; you might not even have to attend at all for a full day; or if you are there all day it might start at 8.30am and not finish until 5pm. The main thing is to be aware of when you are expected to be in;
At College it’s also possible to study on a part-time basis, rather than take a full-time course. Depending on their course they might be able to combine a full-time course with something part time such as a job; or caring for siblings or a child
Do they have all the right equipment and stationery, notebooks, pens and pencils and the right bag to carry it in? Help them to be organised; they will have more tasks and longer deadlines at College, so being organised is critical. Encourage them to use a diary, with due dates and a system for categorising priority goals,
Sleep underpins all that we do. While it is true that teenagers can have a different circadian rhythm to adults, the basics still apply. Support them to go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Use “night mode” on their mobile phone to reduce blue light, and then avoid all devices an hour before sleep. It is during sleep that muscles grow, and this includes the brain; maybe you can do the same to help them.
College has a diverse environment; our students are from a wide range of ages, backgrounds, abilities and interests, which is a great way to branch out and get experience working with different types of people. The environment is also less formal: you’re likely to be on first name terms with most of the staff, whatever their age, and it’s unlikely there will be any dress code – definitely not a school uniform – which can be very appealing to some. College treats students 'more like adults' if this is something that sounds appealing, then your child is coming to the right place!
The way they’ll be assessed is different too, and suits some more than school: vocational and BTEC courses are assessed in a variety of ways, rather than the more traditional essay and exam method favoured by academic courses like A-levels, some GCSEs and degrees, this can be advantageous if your child is more suited to being assessed in other more practical ways or via coursework.