Your Child's Choices

For many parents, supporting a child who’s about to leave school can be a stressful time; the different qualifications on offer nowadays can seem overwhelming, not to mention the education jargon – confusing at the best of times!

Thankfully, we’re here to help by providing you with clear information about the options available to your young person and how you can best support them in decisions about their future. 

And if they want to apply to university but the thought of paying for it is keeping you up at night, then don’t panic! We explain more about higher education choices and the financial support that’s available to help them reach their goals. 

Choices at 16

Young people now need to stay in education or training until they’re 18. There are many different qualifications and pathways available after they turn 16. 

The National Careers Service website is a good place to get more information. They clearly outline the different career choices at 16 for those who want to:


  • Continue their studies
  • Combine work and study


This simple Career Pilot qualifications chart makes it easy to see what’s on offer so you can discuss the various options with your child.

You can also view our Student pages, where we go into a bit more detail about post-16 choices, including academic courses, vocational courses, T Levels and Apprenticeships.

Watch the Parent’s Evening webinar from Kent Choices.

Choices at 18

Decisions, decisions! Again, there is a range of options for students as they reach the end of college or sixth form and turn 18, including:


University is about much more than the end qualification; it allows students to explore the subject they love in an exciting environment while learning from experts. Going to university can enable your young person to develop confidence and independence, make lifelong friends, find new hobbies and interests, and benefit from amazing opportunities like paid internships or the chance to study abroad, which can open doors to a skilled and rewarding career.

Read more about Applying to Higher Education (HE).

Higher Education in an FE College

Many further education colleges offer vocational Higher Education (HE) courses such as HNCs, HNDs and Foundation degrees which are often linked with universities. This option might really suit some students – for example, those who want to stay closer to home because it might be cheaper or because they have family or personal commitments – and can be a great pathway to a full Honours degree in the future. Contact your local further education college to find out more about their range of Higher Education courses on offer. 

Ashford College

Canterbury College

Mid Kent College

North Kent College (Tonbridge)

North Kent College (Dartford)


An apprenticeship is a real job with training, which allows people to earn a paid salary while working and studying at a college, university or with a training provider (the employer covers the cost of tuition fees). Apprenticeships are offered at different levels (see qualifications chart) depending on the subject – and in some cases can lead to degree-level qualifications. An apprenticeship can be a good option if your young person wants to get training for a specific job sector and be earning at the same time.

Read more in the Parents’ Guide to Apprenticeships.


If your young person is keen to get out into the world of employment and start working after they’ve turned 18, there are many ways you can support them.

Remember – there are often opportunities for learning on the job, so encourage them to ask about training opportunities at their interview and how their employer will support them in developing their skills. 


Need more help deciding?

The National Careers Service website is a great place to get more information and find a pathway that best suits your child's strengths and interests.

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