Pathway Planner: Comparing Colleges and Courses

Not sure which college, sixth form or training provider is right for you? Can’t decide between A-Levels, T-Levels, BTECs, NVQs or Apprenticeships? Use our Pathway Planner Worksheets to compare colleges and courses to help you make an informed decision about your next steps.

When it comes to making decisions about what happens next after secondary school, you may feel overwhelmed about the choices on offer. The key is to do your research and start having conversations early. Think about your ‘decision making criteria’ or what matters most to you, so you can weigh up your choices against a personal checklist rather than be influenced by ‘gut feel’ or others’ opinions.

Our Pathway Planner Worksheet is a great place to start (or use ‘My VTQ Planner’ to compare vocational and technical courses if you prefer). You can download a copy using the link below and follow the instructions on how to use. You can also view our information on each of the different study pathways available after you finish your GCSEs in our ‘Next Steps at 16+’ resources, as well as comparing local colleges, sixth forms and training providers in our Digital Prospectus 2023/24.

How to use Pathway Planner Worksheet

Print out the 4 page worksheet, following the instructions on each page, to help you learn more about the options available after you finish your GCSEs and compare different types of study and providers.

Use Page 1 to create a checklist of your options – including subjects you currently enjoy and would like to study further, potential careers or industry sectors you could consider and the courses or qualifications available to you. Rate the courses in 1-6 in order of preference.

Use Page 2 to note your preferred courses and three ‘providers’ (colleges, sixth forms or training centres) you’d be interested in attending. Tick which providers offer each course. Start your research into each place of study – considering things like the location/commute, facilities and campus, pass rates or leavers destinations, extra-curricular activities and pastoral support. Remember there’s a lot more to being successful in the next two years than just the course option alone. Make a note of upcoming open days and use Page 3 to make a list of things to ask or what you’ve found out so far that could affect your decision.

Finally, use Page 4 to make a list of all the things you want to see, discuss or learn more about when attending open days. List your key considerations or decision-making criteria in order of importance. Using the check boxes provided to give a tick/cross score or a rating out of 10 to make a comparison. Add up which college, sixth form or training centre scores most highly to help make your final decision. But remember, you can always apply to more than one if you’re undecided or still feel unsure about your expected grades. And in some cases, you can still change your mind on the course or subjects selected a a few weeks’ into your first term (but it’s worth checking with the provider first).

How to use My VTQ Pathway Planner Worksheet

Print out the 2 page worksheet (double-sided if you can) and fold into 3 to create a tri-fold flyer.

Use our Resources to learn more about vocational qualifications including:

Using what you have learnt, complete your very own flyer of the courses on offer, explaining: