A-level courses and University preparation at private Colleges of further education

Private colleges of further education usually offer a comprehensive choice of sixth form/A-level courses, in order to prepare their students for all types of studies at university level that they may wish to pursue. Independent colleges also provide extensive support and advice regarding university applications, including specialist advice to achieve admission to top UK universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.

Sixth form/A-level courses are primarily for students between 16 and 18 years of age. Students are required to take three or four A-level subjects. Independent colleges of further education usually accept AS transfers from other colleges for students who wish to complete their sixth-form studies at a different institution.

A-level courses offered by private colleges may range from two years to 18 months or one-year courses. The latter are intensive courses and are very demanding as they condense a six-term course in three terms: so, only students with exceptional academic abilities are usually recommended to choose one-year A-level courses.

At independent colleges of further education, each sixth-form student is generally assigned a personal tutor. Class sizes at private colleges tend to be small, not exceeding ten students per class. Parents of A-level students studying at private colleges usually receive reports from tutors every half-term and are able to meet the teaching staff twice a year, so feedback from the college is available to them on a regular basis.

Subjects available to sixth form/A-level students at independent colleges include all traditional subjects; they often also include niche courses for A-level students who wish to pursue a specific course of studies at university level. So, A-level subjects offered to students at private colleges may include: Arts and Media (art, drama, film studies, graphic design, history of art, media studies, photography and textiles); Finance and Computing (accounting, business studies, computing, economics and ICT); Humanities (classical civilisation, English language, English literature, history, Latin and philosophy); Languages (Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Spanish); Social Sciences (geography, government and politics, law, psychology, religious studies, sociology); Traditional Sciences (biology, chemistry, mathematics including further mathematics, physics).

The objective of private colleges of further education is, ultimately, to help all their sixth-form students achieve top grades, so they can obtain a place at a top UK university such as Oxford or Cambridge.

To achieve this goal, independent colleges offer their A-level students a variety of extra resources and support to maximise their academic potential. Prestigious independent colleges of further education usually have high expertise when it comes to advising applicants to top UK universities. They are also well qualified to provide support to A-level students who wish to apply for a place at a Medical School.

In the second year of A-level courses (A2 year) the main focus of tutors shifts from monitoring the students’ academic progress to guiding them through their university application. Preparation to university admission usually includes detailed advice to sixth-form students regarding which university to apply at and which specific courses to take. A great effort is put in by tutors at independent colleges towards preparing students for the interview they are required to attend at the university of their choice. For example, specialist coaching and mock interviews conducted by internal and external specialists may be available to sixth form/A-level students at private colleges. Independent college tutors also offer advice on drafting personal statements supporting the students’ university applications, and help students improve their research and presentation skills. The tutor may also suggest appropriate reading to undertake prior to the interview.

UCAS seminars may also be available to A-level students at private colleges of further education and visits to some university colleges may also be organised for students.

So, independent colleges of further education do not only offer sixth-form/A-level students a comprehensive range of course options and course subjects; they also provide their students with extensive support to facilitate their admission to top universities, such as Oxford and Cambridge, including one-on-one tutor support and internal and external specialists to maximise the students’ academic potential and fulfil their aspirations.

Ashbourne College is an independent sixth form College located in London which offers a wide range of A-level courses.

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