Navigating College and Sixth Form Open Days

The transition from secondary school to college or sixth form is a significant step in every student’s academic journey. As Year 10 and Year 11 students, you stand at the crossroads of possibilities, with choices ranging from A-Levels, T-Levels, BTECs, NVQs, to Apprenticeships. Check out our top tips for college and sixth form open days….

One invaluable tool at your disposal for making informed decisions is attending college and sixth form open days. These events offer a unique opportunity to explore your options, gather information, and gain insights that can shape your future. In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of open days, how to prepare for them, what to look for, key questions to ask, practical considerations, and how to make the right decision after attending open days.

The Importance of College Open Days

College and sixth form open days are like sneak peeks into your academic future. They allow you to step onto the campus, engage with faculty, staff, and students, and get a feel for the learning environment. This experience can help you:

1. Explore Your Options: Open days expose you to a range of programs, from traditional A-Levels to innovative T-Levels, hands-on BTECs, practical NVQs, and real-world Apprenticeships. This exposure can help you understand which pathway aligns with your interests and career aspirations.

2. Gather Information: You’ll learn about curriculum structures, subjects offered, facilities, teaching methods, and extracurricular opportunities. This information is crucial for assessing whether a particular institution can provide the education and experiences you seek.

3. Experience the Environment: Walking through the campus and facilities lets you visualise yourself as a student there. You’ll get a sense of the atmosphere, class sizes, and overall vibe, helping you determine if it’s a place where you can thrive.

4. Interact with People: Meeting teachers, current students, and admissions staff gives you a chance to ask questions and gain insights that aren’t always apparent from brochures or websites.

Download our Open Day Checklist to help get prepared:

Preparing for an Open Day

Preparation is key to making the most of your open day experience. Here’s how to get ready:

1. Research: Look into the programs offered, entry requirements, and any specific details about the open day schedule. This will help you tailor your visit and ask targeted questions.

2. Compile Questions: Jot down questions about subjects, course structures, assessments, support services, and any other aspects that matter to you.

3. Plan Your Journey: Map out the route to the venue, considering travel time and transportation options. Arriving on time reduces stress and lets you begin your day with a clear mind.

On the Open Day

On the day itself, pay attention to the following aspects:

1. Course Information: Attend presentations or workshops for the subjects you’re interested in. Take notes and ask questions to understand what you’ll be learning and how it fits into your career goals.

2. Facilities: Tour the campus, labs, libraries, and other facilities. Can you envision yourself studying and spending time in these spaces?

3. Talk to People: Engage with teachers and current students. Ask about teaching styles, workload, and extracurricular activities. Their insights can offer a well-rounded perspective.

4. Support Services: Inquire about academic support, career counseling, and any resources available to help you succeed.

Key Questions to Ask

Asking the right questions can help you evaluate each institution effectively. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • What subjects are available, and how flexible is the curriculum?
  • What assessment methods are used?
  • How does the institution support students’ well-being and mental health?
  • Are there opportunities for work placements or real-world experience?
  • How are classes structured in terms of size and interaction with teachers?
  • What are the career outcomes of past students?
  • Is there a student union or clubs for extracurricular involvement?

After the Open Day

Processing the information you’ve gathered is the next step. Consider the following criteria as you compare your options:

1. Alignment with Goals: Does the institution’s offerings match your academic and career aspirations?

2. Learning Environment: Do you feel comfortable and motivated in the campus environment?

3. Program Structure: Does the curriculum suit your learning style and preferences?

4. Support Services: Are there resources available to help you succeed academically and personally?

5. Opportunities: Are there chances for practical experience, internships, or extracurricular activities that interest you?


Attending college and sixth form open days is an investment in your future. By immersing yourself in the experience, asking pertinent questions, and making thoughtful observations, you’ll gather insights that will guide your educational journey. As you explore options ranging from A-Levels to Apprenticeships, remember that open days provide a unique chance to set your course towards a fulfilling academic and professional life.

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