How to Apply to Sixth Form and College

8 November 2021

By Tegan Oxley

Sixth form and college are an absolutely terrifying prospect. That’s not to say it doesn’t feel incredibly exciting to plan and research and apply for it – it does.

But everything feels a little overwhelming, especially when your current school doesn’t provide you with enough useful resources. So, if you’re in the same boat as me, hopefully some of my research can save you a little hassle.


Degree studies online in September, are students interested?

The very first thing you should consider when thinking about sixth form or college is which courses you’d like to take. It can be helpful to browse through a few school websites to see what they provide, but your first thought should be what you’d enjoy studying for the next two years, and what will allow you to access higher education, various apprenticeships and careers.

If you’re not too devoted to a niche subject, most schools should be able to provide what you’re looking for. However, I’d recommend keeping your eye out to gauge how well-funded and looked after certain departments are. 

Colleges and sixth forms – where are they?

School Visit Evaluation Form - City of Stoke-on-Trent College SIxth Form College

Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to find a full list of sixth forms and colleges in my area anywhere. So how are we supposed to find out which schools are even available to us?

I’d recommend going to your school’s careers advisor for this one.

Unfortunately, if your advisor is as impossible to find as El Dorado, I’d recommend speaking to your regular teachers, parents, friends, and basically anyone you can find about various post-16 options.

Google Maps is also somewhat of a godsend. A messy one mind you, but if you can wade through the mire of weird formatting, you can find quite a few places to study near you. 

Open evenings

Corby Business Academy - Sixth Form Open Evening

So you’ve found some sixth forms and colleges – great! The next step, aside from stalking their websites, is to book tickets to attend open evenings.

Even if there’s a slim chance you’d actually enrol, I’d recommend attending at least a few different open evenings. It helps you to gauge your options by being as informed as possible about what’s available to you. Who knows, you might just fall in love with a place’s facilities.



A big factor in choosing a sixth form or college is how you’ll get there and back. If you’re considering applying for a college, make sure you find a viable and reliable way to travel.

Travelling further also means you’ll have to get up even earlier in the morning, so I hope you’re an early bird, or you at least have some coffee at hand, if you choose a distant school. 

Feeling comfortable

If your school has an integrated sixth form, the chances are that most of your friends are going to just enrol there. All of the old teachers you’ve known for years will still be there, and I can guarantee you can’t get lost too badly in a building you’ve spent the last five years around.

Feeling comfortable and knowing you’ve got some friends with you by default is such an underrated factor. If you know a college or another school’s sixth form is right for you, by all means go for it.

However, you shouldn’t jump to dismiss your current school’s sixth form when it can uniquely provide you with familiarity. 


RTPI | How to apply

This is possibly the most nerve-racking part of the entire process depending on where you’re applying. But reading up on the processes for each school and speaking with others who are applying to the same place can help immensely.

If you need to fill out more detailed application forms, run them past as many people as you can. They can reassure you with the plain truth – you’re almost certainly better at this than you believe. This applies to interviews too.

The schools know you’re nervous – they’ve handled stressed teenagers for decades. Just prepare as much as possible and you’ll do fine. 

Conditional offers

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When you get into a sixth form or college, they’re likely going to send you a conditional offer. If you’re worried you won’t get the grades you need, now is the perfect time to start revising. Not too much, but a little every night can go a very long way.

If you don’t know how to start revising, some useful websites are Seneca, for basically every course you could possibly take from primary to university, and Hegarty maths, which is pretty self explanatory but one of the best of its kind.

Your teachers and more studious friends are also great resources – use them kindly. 


Recommended Reading: Things I Wish I Knew During Sixth Form

Hopefully this has helped you feel a little more prepared for sixth form and college. Just think everything through and start getting excited, because a far more interesting phase of your life is going to begin next September. And if you’re doing an apprenticeship? That’s outside my realm of knowledge I’m afraid.

But researching on Google and through your teachers will help. Good luck – and here’s to the future! 

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