Each year, thousands of high school students across Canada are faced with this question: college or university?
It’s not as simple as deciding whether you want a degree or a diploma – in fact, Canadian university programs offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, professional program degrees, and co-op programs. And colleges can offer undergraduate degree programs, diploma programs, co-op programs, and apprenticeship programs.
Given your wide variety of options, deciding between college and university primarily depends on what you want to do. You may feel like you can leave it up to chance, but that can be a costly mistake when it comes to money and precious time.
Think about your dream career(s) and which type of institution fits your endeavours best.
Benefits of a college education
College programs provide you with both theoretical and hands-on learning so that you graduate career-ready. This kind of education is great for fields like journalism, skilled trades, film, nursing, etc. With a college degree, your chances of finding a job in these industries are higher because you can claim actual field experience and knowledge. For people who learn better from field experience than a textbook, college programs are a great option.
Many colleges also offer apprenticeship programs. Although these programs include a classroom component, the educational emphasis is focused on field experience. As a bonus, the federal and provincial governments offer grants and other financial incentives to pursue an education in skilled trades!
The majority of college programs are shorter – there are many 2 and 3-year programs you can pursue, as opposed to the standard 4-year programs at university. Tuition is usually a bit cheaper too, so you will have a little more flexibility when it comes to your finances.
Benefits of an university education
A university education is great if you want to pursue a graduate or professional degree. In fields such as psychology, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, and international relations, an undergraduate degree can offer you the opportunity to pursue graduate education. A Master’s or Ph.D speaks volumes on a resume, and will contribute greatly to your knowledge. These degree may also open up career advancement opportunities in the future.
Some of the most cutting-edge research in the world is conducted by university faculty in university facilities. These are brilliant individuals who can be a great resource for your education. Go to professors’ office hours and ask about their research – you may be able to get involved and contribute to something extraordinary.
Keep in mind that there are career fields that are great for both types of institutions – commerce, engineering, and accounting to name a few. Consider your career plans for after graduation, if you plan to work with higher theoretical knowledge or in-field skills, and which type of environment suits your learning style the best.