At Farnborough sixth-form college in Hampshire, teenagers were bitterly disappointed at the Government's failure to adopt the full Tomlinson reforms.
Bright students said they often felt restricted to choosing traditional A-level courses that would impress university admissions tutors.
They had hoped the over-arching diploma proposed by Sir Mike would have allowed future sixth-formers to combine vocational and academic courses, and for each type of learning eventually to command equal respect.
Charlotte Philbey, 17, who hopes to study medicine at Leicester University next year, said: "There needs to be more of a joining of vocational and academic learning. I would have been much more likely to do vocational courses as well as academic ones. It's almost impossible to combine the two now."
Charlotte is studying A-levels in chemistry, biology, maths, psychology and general studies.
Sixth-formers at the 2,100-pupil college were also dismayed to get no formal credit for their extra-curricular activities and voluntary work under the Education Secretary's proposals.
David Guy, 17, who will take A-levels in chemistry, biology, maths and general studies and an AS in critical thinking this summer, helps students with severe learning disabilities. "Some people just do their academic work and that doesn't seem fair," he said. "And a diploma would have made a lot of difference to students like me."
He accused the Government of lacking the courage to implement Tomlinson's radical proposals in full.
Their principal, Dr John Guy, who was on the 15-strong committee that helped Sir Mike produce his proposals, said: "This has been a real missed opportunity. My greatest sadness is that the coherence of Mike Tomlinson's proposals has been lost."Reuse content