Q: I am unsure what I want to study at College – how do I decide?

A: We always encourage students to speak to Careers staff either at school or the College or research online into subjects they are interested in. Understanding subjects is key so explore college websites for information as well as careers sites that have been suggested. You will have the opportunity to discuss your course choices at your interview in more depth with a member of staff and get to experience our courses at Taster Day in June. If you still are not 100% sure later on in the year, you can always change your courses at enrolment. Explore our courses. 


Q: What is the difference between A Levels and vocational courses?

A: At Portsmouth College, we offer a variety of courses including A Levels and vocational subjects. A Levels are traditionally academic based and require an exam assessment. Vocational courses are much more practical and are normally assessed by coursework with some having external assessments also. Both types of courses are accepted at university level if you want to progress to higher education after College.


Q: I’m worried about the big step from school to college. Is there support to help me settle in?

A: We understand that leaving school and beginning your next steps at College is often a worrying time for some. With so many changes, a new campus to find your way around and the prospect of meeting new teachers and peers, it can take a few weeks to settle in. Our friendly staff are always happy to help and our dedicated team in Student Services will provide support and guidance. We also have Flying Start materials for applicants to access as part of our Introduction Days. This will help you develop skills that you will need at college as well as an understanding of course content. Visit the Flying Start resources

Q: Do I need to prepare for College?

A: We ask that you look out for correspondence from us via post or email throughout the year. Sometimes we need to communicate with you to keep you updated about your application or any changes to the College that may affect you. Of course, achieving those all important exam results at the end of the year is priority so focus on your studies and work hard! Remember to attend our Introduction Days in June which you will be invited to attend – these are a great opportunity to finalise those course choices and make sure you’ve made the right decision.

Q: How do I apply and when is the deadline?

A: Applying to College is easy and our Admissions Team provide support and advice along the way. You can either apply online or use the paper application form in our prospectus. The deadline for applications to Level 3 courses is Friday 25th February. Students applying after this date will be placed on a waiting list and contacted if/when places become available. Apply now!


Q: When will I know if I have a place on the courses I want to study?

A: After you have applied, you will be invited to an interview with a member of staff to discuss your future at Portsmouth College. We aim to contact you within two weeks of receiving your application however sometimes it may take a little longer – please bear with us. Interviews are informal and are a chance for you to ask questions as well as cover topics such as E6, additional support, career aims. Most likely, we can offer you a conditional offer at the end of the interview so you know you have secured a place with us (depending on your exam results).


Q: What about if I don’t get the entry requirements needed for my chosen courses?

A: There are always options! If you don’t meet the entry requirements for your chosen course, then an alternative programme may be offered which may consist of changing one of your course choices to suit your style of learning. If Level 3 requirements are not met then a Level 2 programme may be more suitable for you with the intention of progressing in the next year to Level 3. We run GCSE result surgeries on the day of their release to support you if you are concerned about not meeting course entry requirements. Check our entry requirements. 


Q: What if I don’t get the minimum grades for English Language and Mathematics?

A: To study on any Level 3 course, you will need to achieve a minimum of grade 4 in English Language. Some subjects also require a grade 4 or above in Mathematics. If you fail to meet these basic entry requirements then you will be required to re-take them at College alongside your other courses.


Q: I’m not sure College is for me but I don’t know what to do after leaving school?

A: Studying at College full-time isn’t for everyone. Our innovative timetable does however give students the flexibility to get a part-time job as there is no trapped time between lessons – so you would normally get a morning and afternoon off a week for employment, extra-curricular activities, work experience or independent study. We also offer a range of Apprenticeships too in industries such as Hairdressing, Teaching and Digital Marketing so you can earn while you learn and get the best of both worlds! Explore our Apprenticeships.


Q: Will I get help with paying for equipment, travel or food at College?

A: A Government bursary is available to those who are eligible to receive help with College related costs. Students whose household income is £26,000 (gross) or less for the tax year may apply so check with your parent/guardian if this is applicable to you. If so, please enquire at your interview so you can submit your bursary application. Read more about Student Support. 


Q: I live quite far away from campus. How reliable are the travel routes?

A: Luckily, we have plenty of routes to the College via bus, bike, boat or good old fashioned walking! There are a number of direct bus routes to college such as Stagecoach 621 from the Havant area and First Bus is the main provider of services in Portsmouth to the college with routes 2A, 13 and 14 all stopping at the college. We also have our own contract services PC1 (Portchester, Paulsgrove, Cosham, Hilsea and Stamshaw) and PC2 (Fareham and Portchester) which are operated by Stagecoach on our behalf.
Find out more under Support with Travel & Transport. 


Q: I am currently getting Access arrangements (extra time, reader, scribe etc) at school for exams – will I get the same at College?

A: We are not informed by the schools about which student/s have had Access Arrangements in the past. Students with previous arrangements should make themselves known to us as soon as possible. If a student is re-taking GCSEs then they should provide us with a copy of their assessment from school. If they have moved up to Level 3 we will have to arrange for them to be re-assessed. Medical issues are dealt with slightly differently and should also be brought to the attention of the Exams Office ASAP. In all circumstances, students need to tell us that they previously had exam support.


Q: Do you offer careers guidance at college? 

A: Yes we have a team of highly qualified staff who provide personalised and impartial careers guidance to students. They deliver workshops and 1:1 sessions that support you through the UCAS application process if applying to higher education as well as offering advice about employment opportunities and apprenticeships. Find out more about our Careers Support.


Q: How does Portsmouth College prepare me for my next steps whether that’s university, employment or an apprenticeship? 

A: We want to give our students the best opportunities and chance of securing their first choice university, industry placements, advanced apprenticeships and jobs in their chosen career field. Our E6 Personal Development Programme develops skills and enhances your employability in preparation for the future and consists of extra-curricular activities that will strengthen your CV.

Our More Able Students’ Programme, which is aimed at students who have achieved high grades at GCSE, also offers outstanding opportunities to raise your academic profile and secure places at prestigious and high-ranking universities.


Q: What do I do if I am not happy with my course choices after I start college?

A: The college will support you with your course choices from the very beginning of your application with us. We acknowledge that sometimes subjects do not turn out to be as you thought. A short while into the new term, so you can truly experience your programme of study, we offer a ‘course change week’. This is when you can discuss your current subjects with your teachers and the Progress Mentors. The team will guide you through the process.


Q: What if I struggle with the amount of extra study I am expected to complete outside of my classes?

A: We have a lot of support here at college. We would meet with you 1:1 to try and establish how we could best support you and we would then direct you to the correct area e.g Additional Support or accessing our ‘quiet study area’. If there are wider issues that you are concerned about we can support you to access support from other teams.

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