How Do They
In Canada, colleges and a
universities are very different. Universities focus on academic and
professional programs, like Engineering, Law, or medicine and offer
four year degrees. Colleges on the other hand focus on occupation
and trades training and provide two and three year diploma programs.
Universities award Bachelor degrees upon completion of a four year program.
Students can then go on to obtain a graduate level degree such as a Master of
Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science (MSc). Universities focus
more on academic studies and professional training. If your objective is to
become a professional such as an Engineer, Doctor or Lawyer then University is
for you. Generally you need to be prepared for six to eight years of study.
Although, in some cases, such as Engineering, you can find an entry level
position with a four-year bachelors degree.
On the other hand, colleges offer career
training and trades programs, like Electrical, Masonry, Hospitality or IT. In
many cases these programs involve two or three years of study followed by a
three year apprenticeship. The fact of the matter is that colleges equip the
students with the fundamental skills and knowledge about a specific subject or
trade. You can apply for some entry level and middle level jobs after the
completion of a college program. If you prefer a career that demands hands-on
training instead of academic training, you need to choose a college.
I started my formal post-secondary at a college in a program of study leading to an
Electronic Technologist diploma at the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology (NSIT).
I did this program while on Leave-Without-Pay (LWOP) from the navy. My objective
was to become a Combat Systems Engineer and at the time the minimum requirement for
acceptance was a Technologist Diploma. I later learned that meeting
minimum entry requirements was not a good idea since most of my colleagues with
only Technologist diplomas rarely made it beyond the rank of Lieutenant.
Fortunately, the Navy offered
me an opportunity to attend Military College when I was half way through my
program at NSIT. So I was able to spend
four years earning a BSc degree at
Royal Roads Military College (RRMC). Upon completing this program I was once
again fortunate to be offered Post Graduate Training on Scholarship and an
opportunity to study at the University of Victoria (UVIC). After this two
year graduate program I was awarded a Master of Science (MSc) degree. I then
spent another two years at the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS) and
Canadian Forces Fleet School to upgrade my academic credentials to the
equivalent of an Electrical Engineering degree. Later in life, as part of
my Life-Long Learning commitment, I earned a Master of Business Administration
(MBA) degree at Royal Roads University (RRU).
In summary my post secondary studies
involved 1 year at NSIT, 4 years at RRMC, 2 years at UVic, 2 years at TUNS and 2
years at RRU for a total of 11 years in post-secondary education.
What's Best for You
Whether you choose a two year college program or a four year
university degree program will depend on your interests. The real
measure of success is whether or not you get excited about going to
work on Monday mornings because you really like your job.
There is nothing worse than hating to go to work. When you
find the right profession you won't consider what are doing for a
living as being work because it will be something you truly enjoy
regardless of the level of compensation. So take your time when
making this decision and if possible try "Job Shadowing"
where you follow your local engineer or technician for a day to see
what it would be like if you choose to follow in their footsteps.