For this month’s blog my topic of discussion (as stated last month) was to cover the differences between studying HE at a college or at a university.
Picking where you want to go is a big decision and one which you must get right. Once you have a shortlist of institutions that you are interested in, make the effort to go along to one of their open days/evenings. This gives you a great opportunity to look around the facilities including classrooms, workshops, and social areas. Lecturers will also be present for you to talk to and ask about any course specifics and extracurricular activities that you may have an interest in.
From student feedback and from also going through the process of studying HE at both a college and at university myself, I have the following conclusions which may help guide your decision.
• Smaller group sizes which leads to a more individualised teaching style where you also gain the opportunity to be more hands on in practicals and seminars. The smaller group sizes will often give you more contact time with staff as well.
• Different HE culture. Most colleges are predominantly FE populated and the HE element is often a smaller part of the college. You may find that they can lack the sort of social scene and facilities that you would come to expect of a university.
• Cost. College HE courses are often more cost effective than at university. Course fees can be less. Dependent upon travel, staying nearer to home can also provide a huge cost saving over the duration of your studies – cutting down on rent and bills.
• Average age of students across the college can range from 16 to more mature learners in their 40s and 50s. Courses on offer at a college can range from pre-16 courses up to graduate study.
• Large class sizes mixed with other courses for joint lectures which can introduce you to more people and others’ experiences
• Often a much wider range of entertainment both in and outside of the university with the student union and other associations/clubs.
• Average age of students from 18 to 25. Courses range from foundation year to PhD work.
• More mature learning environment
See you all next month where I plan to discuss work placements/experience, sandwich years and graduate schemes.