Life After School – What Route Can I Take?

Life after school can be a daunting prospect. So far, you’ve spent a large proportion of your life being guided through education, with little control over your options. 

Now it’s your time to decide what to do next. Whether it be college, sixth form or an apprenticeship, there are different routes to choose from – and not one fit for all. MidKent College shares with us what life is like after school and the routes available to you.


College isn’t too dissimilar to sixth form in the fact it’s an educational institution for students starting from the age of 16. The biggest difference is that students have the option to study A Levels or technical and professional qualifications. A Levels are generally offered as the only option for students at sixth form and are often only eligible to students that have achieved five grade C/grade 4 or above at GCSE. Technical and professional qualifications however, come in the form of BTEC, Higher National Diplomas or Certificates, NVQs, Foundation Degrees and PJEA courses.

College also offers a different learning environment to sixth form. College is typically more informal and relaxed with flexible learning hours. This type of learning is better suited to some students more than others. You’ll generally focus on one subject area, rather than multiple, improve your English and maths skills, and spend time in a relevant workplace. You’ll also be supported in your next step too, whether that’s to university, the next level of your programme or into employment.

Sixth Form

For most, sixth form remains within the school environment – it is the two final school years for students aged 16 to 18. You’ll be expected to study and complete AS and/or A Levels based on courses of your choice. Generally, you’ll be expected to have five grade C/grade 4 or above at GCSE but ensure that you confirm this with the school as this can differ between schools. 

The benefit of staying on at sixth form is continuity or familiarity if you choose to stay on at the same school. However, this may not be the best option for all; some students may be keen on the idea of moving schools for a fresh start, or to study specific subjects which may be offered there.

You can expect to have greater freedom than that of GCSE level and develop skills in independence and responsibility which are great building blocks in preparation for university and work. 


Apprenticeships are another route you can take after completing your GCSEs. Apprenticeships allow you to combine real work and study with a balance of classroom learning and on-the-job training. You will gain a nationally recognised qualification and offer a great route to entering your ideal industry. 

Apprenticeships can take between one to five years to complete at either intermediate (level 2), advanced (level 3) or higher level (level 4 or above). For students looking to complete an apprenticeship after GCSE level, providing you have achieved grade C/grade 4 or above in at least five GCSEs, you will likely begin at level 3. If you choose to retake your GCSEs at college, you will begin at level 2. 

Apprenticeships enable you to learn while you earn. As of April 2018, the current minimum wage rate for an apprentice is £3.70 per hour. This rate is applicable to apprentices aged under 19, and first-year apprentices aged 19 or over. 

Excellent progression opportunities, increased confidence, valuable skills and industry experience are just some of the benefits you’ll get from completing an apprenticeship. Why not take a look at the current apprenticeship vacancies being advertised on our website?

Find out more apprenticeships and how they can be utilised in schools on our latest blog "Let's Talk Apprenticeships".  

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