It’s time again to think ahead—about where you’re going and what you plan on doing when you finally graduate from high school. This special section will give you some insight into where to go from here.
Let’s face it. There’s a certain prestige surrounding the fact that you are going away to university, rather than say, your local college―but don’t let the little things cloud your judgment when making one of the most important decisions of your life.
When thinking about post secondary education, you must consider the differences between career or community colleges and universities. A university education offers many broad opportunities and provides security, whereas colleges offer specifically targeted programs that can be completed quickly and are easier to budget for. The deciding factor between university and college should ultimately be a matter of your personality and character.
Finance does come into play when deciding where to go to school. The duration of a university education is a minimum of four years in an honours program, and while this time is often spent gaining knowledge, it is also spent incurring debt. A career college education can be completed in anywhere from eight months to two years, so any accrued debt is minimal. Statistics Canada says the cost of a two-year college diploma is around $21,000 and a four-year university degree costs about $55,000. But what you invest in may pay off later—Stats Canada also says that the average income per year for someone with a university degree is $48,648, whereas with a college diploma you’ll be earning about $32,736. This varies from field to field however, a college-trained chef, for example, on average earns almost 10 percent more than a university-trained one.
A university degree comes attached with a measure of security. It is a prerequisite for many professions. In some fields, like the medical, legal, and business world, a bachelor’s degree must be earned before you move on to a more professional degree. Often those who earn a university degree are firmly focused on one career for the duration of their employment future. While a university education may not give you the practical edge you need in the job market, the academic programs encourage you to broaden your horizons and open your mind to new ideas and critical thinking. You’ll develop intellectual skills, such as studying skills, and writing skills (watch out for other students asking you to “write my essay“!)
A career college education may be a more practical choice. It also works like a university degree if you know exactly which profession to enter, like photography or aesthetics—professions that require more practical training than academic learning. Other popular professions are freelance trade contractors and small business owners. A diploma from a career college may also be especially beneficial to those who intend to take over or work for a family business; they simply need to receive a background education quickly and cost efficiently.
University and career colleges attract two different types of people. There is no way to compare college versus university in terms of one or the other being the best. When you choose to continue with post-secondary education, you must come to a decision about what you wish to achieve and how you wish to achieve it.
Note: It is okay not to have a set career goal when applying for post-secondary education. You should explore your options and pick and choose what subjects interest you—although changing direction may become costly.