In Canada, enrolling in university is traditionally considered the essential stepping stone to academic success. When considering post-secondary education, the path initially appears to be quite obvious. It starts in high school where there is a distinction between “college” level and “university” level courses that students may take. Unfortunately, this contributes to an environment that constantly reminds students who are set to graduate high school of the misconception that attending university is a superior option. It also encourages a false promise that a reputable university is the way to secure a steady job and earn a better income after graduation.
The reality is, the current job market has changed drastically even in the past decade and the outdated justifications for attending university over college may not prove truthful. Now more than ever, it is a time to reconsider alternative options for post-secondary education rather than buying into false claims and old-fashioned perceptions. Students should be encouraged to base their decisions upon their own career goals. With youth unemployment rates on the rise and the staggering underemployment rates of university graduates, attending college carries the potential to get students out of school and immediately into the workforce. Today, employers look to hire candidates who are skilled and career-ready, which a college education is designed to do. This is reflected by the fact that 83% of students who graduate from a college program are employed within six months of graduation.
Celebrating 50 Years of Canada’s College System
This year marks 50 years since the creation of Canada’s college system. A variance from the traditional university set up, this system was introduced to help a new generation of Canadian students address the nation’s changing labour trends and market needs. Currently, there are 24 colleges located in Ontario that feature over 900 program options to choose from. All programs combine classroom learning with technical training to provide students with a more comprehensive educational experience. The college system serves 200 communities across the province, even providing students in remote areas with a chance to access higher education. Furthermore, over 200,000 full-time and 300,000 part-time students are presently enrolled at an Ontario college.
Canada’s college system is also renowned for its partnerships with leading university institutions. Thus, students have the option to pursue a combination of university and college programs in an effort to further enhance their post-graduate careers. According to Statistics Canada, up to 50% of college students already possess a university degree or even a post-graduate degree. Ontario colleges have not only forged strong relationships with universities but they are also connected to a large network of contacts within a number of different industries. Some of the exciting programs that colleges offer students include business, advertising, paramedicine, tourism, the skilled trades, and more.
College vs. University
College offers more benefits in addition to giving students a real shot at securing employment after graduating. As opposed to university, college is far more goal-oriented, personable, and filled with serious students who have perhaps finished a university degree program, only to realize that their chosen career requires the type of training and experience only a college can provide.
While universities may carry an astute reputation, they are often too large to offer the attention students deserve. Lectures may be taught by professors, but students can expect tutorials and evaluations to be carried out by graduate students. Conversely, colleges typically have a smaller class size and students are always taught by experienced instructors. Moreover, students will learn specific course material and gain hands-on training that can be applied to their chosen career in the real world.
Factors to Consider
Before students can make an informed post-secondary decision, they must consider all factors. Firstly, it is important for prospective students to research their chosen career field before deciding if attending a college or university is best. There are many resources available online outlining the high school level requirements for admission to college programs, and the types of careers college programs lead to. Each institution will provide students with a different set of qualifications, even for similar programs. Co-op placements in school are also a fantastic way to try out a field you may be interested in, while establishing connections that may help you down the road.
Students should also take their financial situation into consideration. Typically, university tuition is much higher than college tuition. In addition, the length of a university program can take between 3 to 5 years to complete, while most college programs may only take 2 years. Therefore, not only is tuition higher for university students but they will also be paying for their education for twice as long.
Finally, those who thrive in a less competitive and intimate setting may find the transition from high school to college much easier. Simply put, college provides students with a better opportunity to study and work in a specific field that they will enjoy for years to come.
Work towards a Successful Future by Enrolling in College
In summary, there are many avenues to take when it comes to post-secondary education. It is important to remember that university is not the only option and it certainly is not the best option for every individual. College programs have a lot to offer and it is worthwhile to take them into consideration when determining your academic goals.