It is always difficult when you approach a new crossroads in your life. No sooner have you successfully navigated your options and embarked on your GCSE journey, than here you are again having to make the right choice between whether to continue your educational journey studying a BTEC or A Level course. So where do you begin? What’s right for you might not suit your classmate, but don’t despair here we’ll navigate our way through the myriad of opportunities and options and help you decide what the best choice is for you.
The choice between BTEC vs A Levels – What does this mean in practice?
Both options involve continuing your academic journey in an educational setting. BTEC provides an alternative way to learn through a combination of both practical work and study, whereas A Levels are more academically focused, typically involving more written work and examinations. BTEC is more vocational and tends to be career driven in subjects relating specifically to the workplace, whereas A Levels are regarded as a safe, well-respected and universally recognised standard of academic qualification.
“What do you want to do when you grow up?”
This is often a question we are asked from a very young age but how on earth do you know everything that there is to do in life let alone know what you actually want to do. With this in mind, how do you find out what the best choice is for your future and decide between BTEC and A Levels?
It is true that careers can sometimes be forged from a mix of circumstance, opportunity and sheer luck, but setting out on the right path by choosing the right higher education options for you can certainly help steer the way through this process. For some, a career path will be clearly laid out in their minds, perhaps through experience of a family member or somebody they look up to in the professional or celebrity field has carved a particularly successful career in an area that interests them and the student aspires to do the same. Not everyone has such clear vision because, for the majority, thoughts on what career to choose can be daunting and frustrating. Where do you start? Do the subjects you choose now dictate your future path? Not necessarily. Let’s consider a few fundamentals to help you decide:
How do you like to learn?
Not everybody loves examinations, in fact whilst some may thrive in a structured examination environment, others will shy away from the pressure and not perform as well as they could if tested through, for example, continual practical and written assessment. It is always worth considering the past academic results and university destinations of both BTEC and A Levels to get a feel for how a particular school performs in each area and what your rate of success might look like.
It can simply be too much for some students to pin all their hopes on just one examination with the potential for self sabotage should anxiety or other worries overshadow performance. However, for others their competitive nature and thrill of performing in an examination at their very best to prove and show off their learning and ability to recall information is appealling.
What subjects interest you the most?
You may be a genuine history buff, an avid geographer or a wordsmith with a passion for the English language, in which case choosing to hone your knowledge via the A Levels route and to specialise in the subjects you genuinely care about may be the logical next step for you.
With a choice of over 20 A Level Subjects to choose from comprising the more traditional to new and emerging choices, DLD College London provides an impressive mix of subjects ranging from Further Mathematics and Government & Politics to Sociology and Media Studies. Whether opting to study A Levels over two years or 18 months for those subjects offered, this route provides a firm foundation to secure a pathway to top London universities.
If the vocational route is drawing you in, then you could consider exploring career-based courses such as Business BTEC or Creative Digital Media Production BTEC, choosing to study a practical based course which is recognised in the majority of UK universities.
In which type of learning environment do you thrive?
One thing to consider, is what type of learning environment you thrive in. Do you enjoy the structure of a rigorous syllabus and the route to success clearly defined through end of course examinations when you can bring all of your knowledge together such as in A Levels? Or would you prefer a more practical, real-world approach to learning alongside a key theoretical background with continual assessments such as on a BTEC course?
What do you want to go on to do after Sixth Form?
What are your aspirations after Sixth Form? You might have a really strong idea about higher education, perhaps knowing that a university degree is for you and you may already have an idea what you might study. If so look at what the degree course requires, it will give an idea of the type of subjects to study at A Level or which BTEC course to follow to give you the very best chance of securing a place. Universities will often ask students to take a specific combination of A Level subjects or give details about particular BTEC courses they accept to gain entry to a particular undergraduate course. With competition being rife amongst the top UK universities doing everything you can to get it right in the first place is certainly the most sensible thing to do.
You may be certain that you want to enter the workplace immediately after Sixth Form, perhaps through an apprenticeship programme so your learning can continue alongside gaining valuable work experience. BTEC courses often create a direct link between education and the workplace, however a school’s extra-curricular programme can support A Level students with visiting industry speakers, workshops, events and work placements.
Does it have to come down to a choice?
Whilst a choice has to be made this is simply the beginning of your onward academic journey and continuing education. The key is that you need to keep moving forward,whatever you decide. Providing your choices open the door to either the university degree you have set your heart on, the apprenticeship opportunity you have your eye on, or straight into the workplace to carve your career then you are walking the right path.
Don’t panic, stay calm and consider all the opportunities available to you. Trust your gut feeling, talk to your family and your school and balance the advice given with what you think you want from your future studies. At DLD College London students also have the option to combine A Level and BTEC study to offer a combination of the best of both programmes.
Whatever you choose to study now will not necessarily mean that you will take up a career in your chosen subject. There are many people who studied, for example, History or Fine Art who have subsequently taken a completely different career path to the one they first set out to take. Life is what you make it. Keep going and if the road diverts you can choose at that point whether to turn left or right.