Shirley Arayan A new chapter for college students
The end of the summer also heralds the start of a new term and for those starting at a college it is the start of a new chapter of life.
Gone are the mandatory school uniform, using Mr, Mrs or Miss as a prefix when addressing a teacher and carrying lunch passes.
In comes dressing as if you were going to work, addressing tutors as you would a colleague by their first name and learning the importance of becoming job ready – i.e ready for the world of employment.
A college is a bridge between school days and the workplace or higher education.
Here at Norton Radstock College, where I am Principal, we see children become adults and watch as they develop maturity in thinking and outlook; it can be a challenge for them.
But we see students become transformed.
Many have had a drop in confidence. We see them work hard to excel at a high academic level, gaining positive feedback and positive grades, they have now achieved places at university.
It can be a hard lesson for parents too – while remaining supportive of their offspring they need to relinquish control and will find they are not as involved.
It is the student's responsibility to be on time, to do their work inside and outside of the classroom.
A new study area and restaurant will give students greater opportunity to work in high-quality surroundings.
Over the past few months colleges across the West of England have been encouraging young people to think further ahead, which has been raising awareness of post-16 education.
From this September all young people have to continue in education or training until they are 17 – and from September 2015 it age increases to 18. Raising the participation age in education is not the same as raising the school-leaving age, it means young people have a greater choice and it's not just about staying at school.
In college young people can learn real-world skills; something which many employers tell us they are crying out for.
College isn't just for those who are less academic; college is an option for all as you can gain high-level qualifications without going to university. You can also prepare the groundwork with a foundation course as well as taking a vocational path.
So as we – and colleges across the West Country – open our doors to new students this week we are looking forward to changing lives and preparing all our students to follow a career of their choice.
Shirley Arayan is the Principal of Norton Radstock College, Somerset.