Going back to school is an important decision – but with hundreds of programs to pick from, how do you decide what’s best for you?
In today’s skill-based economy, it’s almost essential to have post-secondary training. Ontario’s private career colleges are the answer for about 38,000 graduates each year. Many people decide to enroll at a career college for the hands-on learning style, more intensive program schedules and smaller classes. Any choice you make about continuing your education should be well-researched. Here is a list of tips to help:
A. Ascertain an area
First and foremost, find a field that interests you. Think about what kind of work you would like to do after you graduate.
“With hundreds of schools and programs to choose from, it’s important that you have a good sense of the knowledge you want to gain,” said Paul Kitchin, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Career Colleges.
Career college programs are designed specifically to get students working in the field as soon as possible – so it’s important you’re excited to be a part of the industry you choose.
“I always encourage candidates to look at quality of life and choosing a career that best embraces their interests and future plans,” said OACC President Don Thibert. “Never choose a career because of wages – if you do not enjoy what you do, it will likely be apparent in your demeanor and overall happiness.”
B. Bury your nose in the books
Do your homework - check the Service Ontario web site (www.ontario.ca/pcc) to ensure the private career college and program you’re interested in are registered with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
C. Consider costs, location and timing
Figure out what the tuition includes and any other costs for the program. If you think you’re going to need financial assistance, find out if it’s available in your program. Think about location – where do you want to go to school? With just under 600 campuses across Ontario, there are many different career colleges to attend. If you do not own a car, think about the school’s proximity to public transportation. In terms of location, find how the length of program, what classes are offered and if there are day and evening classes.
“Students should write out their goals and aspirations and compare them with the program curricula, length and cost,” said OACC Vice President Peter Dykstra. “It will help them determine if the program/college helps them achieve their goals.”
D. Drop in and ask questions
Visit different colleges to see their equipment and facilities. Make an appointment to speak with an admissions representative. Talk to an instructor, see a class in action and speak to graduates of the program. Check to see if the program has a placement or internship component to provide on-the -job training experience. Find out who is responsible for arranging the placements. Check to see if the school uses employers on advisory committees. Find out if completing the program results in certification or prepares you to obtain industry certification.
E. Ensure the school is an OACC member
Verify that the career college is a member of the Ontario Association of Career Colleges in good standing by visiting: www.oacc.ca or calling 519-752-2124.
Private career colleges have been training Ontarians for over 140 years. They actually predate community colleges by about 100 years. Career colleges offer a wide range of programs in business, health, technology and trades. The schools offer everything from welding to video game design.
Career colleges have a strong graduation rate. The 2009 Survey of Canadian Career College Students found that participants graduated at a rate of 98 per cent. The study of 4,065 graduates was jointly funded by the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. The survey also indicated that six to nine months after graduation, 79 per cent of private career college grads reported they were working full time (60 per cent) or part time (19 per cent.)
The bottom line is that all potential students should do their research.
“Investing in your education is an important decision,” said Kitchin. “It is worth taking the time to choose wisely.”
OACC Annual General Meeting
Thursday, May 30, 2013 @ 2:30 pm
Caesars Hotel & Casino, Windsor
To Be Determined
May 29, 30 & 31, 2013.
Conference Registration Now Open!
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