Choosing your post-secondary school is one of the first responsible decisions you need to make as a real adult. Your college/university will determine where you live for the next 3-5 years, your future friends’ circle, and your further opportunities in life. Take some time to consider your options carefully. Here is what you should focus on to make the right decision for yourself.
This should take priority over any other reason for choosing a post-secondary school. If the program is exactly what you want, then you will enjoy your time at the school. Here are few points to look out for in a good post-secondary school program:
Specialization and depth of study
Post-secondary programs for the same field can differ vastly across schools. Research the content of the program before you decide.
Sometimes, how well you comprehend the material can depend on the professor’s teaching style. Check out ratemyprof.com for how well professors from your program are liked. Caution: take these with a grain of salt and form your own opinions. It is also a good idea to ask your classmates if they’ve taken a class with this professor. Try to find friends who are further along in the program for some guidance on this.
Programs that require a co-op or internship term to graduate will help you kick start your career path. For some students, a co-op or internship can mean gaining first time experience in their field of study. This opens doors to networking with professionals and possible new jobs.
Practical and hands-on learning
A balance of theory and practical work (field work, working with Not-for-Profits on assignments, delivering projects to real clients) would ideally give you “real-world experience” while studying.
Length of the program
Is it one year or two years? How long are you willing to go back to school for? Consider that the timeline may change based on how many courses you take each semester, and how long the co-op term lasts (if applicable).
Program value in another country
International students and Canadian students should pay attention to the value your program will have in the country you want to work in. For example, a Canadian Tax Post-Graduate diploma will only be useful for an international student if they plan work in Canada where they can apply the knowledge.
Another point to consider is the international recognition of the program. If you wanted to work abroad, can the program help you get an international job or internship?
Post-graduate programs can be very expensive, but they don’t have to break your bank. Explore your financial aid options. Find out if you can be eligible for scholarships, OSAP, or bursaries from the school. Are there any programs that allow you to work while studying?
Career guidance centre
Career counselors are life savers when you are overloaded with work during the program. Make your appointment with them early in the year to avoid long lines and disappointments,. They can help you set deadlines, give you tips on job search, help build a resume and cover letter, and provide moral support. They will help you prep for interviews and even give you information on job fairs.The career guidance centre might double up as or work closely with your internship coordinator, so keep that in mind too.
Rate of hire after graduation
In other words, what percent of graduates from the school find jobs in their fields within six months to a year of graduating? These statistics will tell you a lot about how well connected and recognized the post-secondary school or program is in your field.
A great place to begin networking is the alumni association of your graduate school. Some alumni associations are very active and enthusiastic. You might gain a good mentor who can point to towards job opportunities.
Location and convenience
1. Is the school located in the city you currently live in?
2. Is often is more feasible to study at the university close to your home so you can save on rent, food and other expenses. Save your money for when you really will need it.
Amenities close to campus or on Campus
Is the campus located in or close to an urban area? If you are moving out, then consider a campus that is nearby to food and entertainment places. If you don’t have a car, then check out the campus according to convenient transportation services.
We hope that all of this will take some stress away from this important decision. Now it’s time to get excited about going to college/university!