College Diploma Programs for Accreditation

If you have to go back to school for accreditation, university is not the only option. Many training programs in trades, business, computer services, health care and human services are offered at community colleges or private colleges at a lower cost and for a shorter period of time than at universities.

What are Community Colleges?

Community colleges are overseen by the provinces, and their courses are accredited to provincial industry standards. The programs tend to be 2-3 years in length and run full time classes from September until June each year. Most of the students will be just out of high school, but there are always mature students as well. Classes are often large, but there are counselors on staff who can help when problems arise. The costs of the courses are kept low by provincial subsidies.

Community colleges also have Prior Learning Assessment programs, so they may give you credit for courses you took in your former country. There is usually a fee for this assessment. On the other hand, taking the course again will give you the Canadian vocabulary for the tools and skills of your trade and you will probably be a top student which impresses employers.

Private colleges have advantages too

Private schools’ courses are usually accredited by the province too. They do not have any government subsidies so their programs are more expensive, but their courses can usually be completed in 9 -16 months. The school day is usually only five hours long, allowing students to work at jobs after school. Private colleges often have a new intake of students every month, and offer their programs in modules, so students can leave at the end of a module, work for a while, and come back to the next module when work stops. Students tend to be older and classes smaller in private colleges.

How do you choose?

If you know what program you want to take, check out both community college and private school programs. Ask to sit in on the classes for a day to see how their teaching style works for you. Ask to see their reports for the past few years on graduate employment. Ask what they do to help their students find work. Talk to people who are working in the job you want about which schools they would recommend. Go to job fairs and ask employers which programs and schools they usually hire from.

Research the job market carefully

Every year students graduate from programs for which there are not many jobs. Some courses have important names and high tuition fees, but the jobs at the end may be low paying or seasonal. Check out the online job boards and sites like Working in Canada to help you make your choice.

Do you plan to go on to university?

Many universities have agreements with community colleges to accept their 2-year diploma programs as credits towards a degree. This allows a college graduate to get a job in that field and complete a university degree through part time and distance education courses while working. These agreements are not often available with private college programs. If you are planning to get a degree sometime in the future, research whether the university will accept your college program.

If you are unemployed and have received Employment Insurance, your local employment centre may be able to recommend you for a provincial training allowance; if not, you can apply to Canada Student Loans / Grants to cover the cost of training.

Canadian Newcomer Issue 44