University vs College – What should I do after high school?
With the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre and Ontario College Application Service beginning to accept applications you may be wondering what route you should take for your post-secondary education and asking the question “what should I do after high school?” While this is a hard decision it’s also an important one that you need to make very early in your life: university vs college. You’ve probably already started thinking about this though. You’ve gone to your school counsellor, probably took GLC2O – Career Studies and discussed with your family, friends and teachers what you should do after graduating this fall.
Now, this article may not be for everyone. Perhaps you’ve already decided you want to learn a trade or learn to code or study to become a lawyer. If you already know what career you may like to pursue, then amazing! If that is not the case for you, don’t worry! Not everyone knows what they want to do right away and even though this is a big decision, there is one thing you need to remember – just because you have chosen a path doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. Choosing university vs college, or college vs university now, will not necessarily impact your ability to make a switch in the future, so choose what you think is right for you now.
Who Am I?
Before making choices on what is right for you college or university, it’s worth thinking about the type of person you are and what type of learner you are. Are you a person who learns well by doing hands-on tasks, or do you prefer to read a book? Are you a person who likes to lead a team or project, or do you prefer to sit back and think about things analytically and strategically? Your personality and learning style doesn’t necessarily help you choose what you want to do for your future career or even if you should to pursue college or university, but it can help you understand what path you may want to pursue.
First, let’s consider the type of person you are. Have you heard of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Quiz? Perhaps you have even taken it before. The Myers-Briggs Personality Type is used to determine the type of personality you have based on a theory that your behaviours that may or may not seem varied are actually orderly and consistent. It assigns a number of traits based on the idea that people are either born with, or develop certain preferred ways of perceiving and deciding, similar to how you are either right-handed or left-handed. The test focuses on five categories of Mind, Energy, Nature, Tactics and Identity to determine how you see and react with the world and people around you.
You can take a free personality trait test here.
Now that you know what personality type you are, consider what type of learner you are. We covered the different types of learners in a blog post earlier this year on the Advantages Of Taking A High School Course Online. In our blog we covered the that there are four types of learners and are defined as follows:
- Visual learners prefer to see info and visualize the relationships between ideas.
- Auditory learners, who prefer to hear info rather than reading it or seeing it displayed visually.
- Reading/Writing learners learn best by reading and writing down content.
- Kinesthetic learners prefer hands-on experiential learning. They learn best by doing.
You can take a quiz to identify what kind of learner you are here.
Now that you know what kind of learner you are and what kind of personality you have, you have some tools that can help you make the decision of university vs college. With these tools in hand, let’s talk about some of the differences between college vs university in Canada.
University vs College – Addressing Misconceptions.
Before we get into the differences of college or university, let’s address a common misconception about college and university in Canada. Neither is better or worse than the other, they are simply different. Global news addresses this in an article from October 2019. “There’s no denying the stigma of choosing college over university still exists, and often, this idea can trickle down to the job market,” explains the report. This doesn’t mean that choosing college or university is better or worse, it really depends on what you want to study and the possible career you may want to pursue.
There’s a second misconception when making the decision to choose a university vs college and that is that you must know what you want to pursue as a career before you go down this path. That is not necessarily true. You can apply to university or college and change your path of study. This is a stigma that exists that if you make a switch during your post-secondary education, then you’ve made a mistake. It’s not a mistake but in-fact an opportunity for growth. As the Global article addresses, a “2008 study by the Canadian Education Project, found that 38 percent of college and university students in Canada will drop out or change majors over the course of their post-secondary career.”
So, we know it’s ok to change paths, however it’s likely you want to try to make the right decision for you in the first place. This is why we explored personality and learning types earlier. With those now considered, let’s dive into why one should choose college vs university or university vs college.
College courses are often focused around a more hands on experience, while university courses often focus on my theory and analytical skills. Although this isn’t always the case. There are a number of great reasons to choose college as listed in this article by ontariocolleges.ca.
College courses are heavily focused on developing the skills you need for a career. Colleges are focused more heavily on technology and workforce development, therefore they innovate and are often ahead of what is needed for specific jobs.
Colleges also often partner with industry and have professional relationships with businesss. Many programs offer co-op, internship and work placement opportunities that can lead to jobs after graduation. The unique blend of academic learning and practical skills training you gain through college can be a great preparation for taking your skills to the workforce.
Finally, another benefit to college is the opportunity to study for a period of time that makes sense for you. While universities offer a minimum 3 year study focus, colleges offer one-year certificate programs that help you build skills and get you into the workforce quickly, but also have two and three-year diploma programs for other careers and if you’ve started in college, there is an opportunity to transfer some of your credits to a university or other college programs to be used to a degree or diploma.
Although college is generally more hands-on, some hands-on careers will require a university degree such as varying levels of science, medicine or engineering. Depending on what you want to do you’ll need to keep this in mind.
University courses often focus on more research and the analytical. In university you focus on the theory and critical thinking of how things are and work. There is still a level of practicality in what you learn and while you are studying at a university you will continue to develop and hone the soft skills like analysis and critical thinking.
It’s worth mentioning that there are many careers that require a university degree as well. Consider things like medicine or scientific research. Often these careers require years of study through university and may or may not require a Master’s Degree or Doctorate (PhD) or specialized degree such as an Medical Doctorate (MD). Universities in Canada have the ability to grant these types of degrees, so it’s helpful, though not necessary to know what you want to study or what career you may want to pursue before choosing a university.
Another important thing to consider is what a university may specialize in. Most universities will offer degrees in standard subjects (science, math, history, English, business and so on), but often each school has a speciality or two that they may offer. If you want to be a teacher for example, not every university offers a program for that. Similarly, nursing or medicine require you to go to a specialized program. Consider searching a website like UniversityStudy.com to see what universities offer the area of study you may wish to pursue.
What about scholarships?
Perhaps by now you’ve considered the pros and cons of college vs university and you’ve made a decision that you are going to apply to some post-secondary schools.Now you need to consider something incredibly necessary, how are you going to pay for it?
Do you know if you are applying for college or university? If you do, you can start to do some research on scholarships that may be out there to help you pay for school.
If you’re applying for post secondary school in Ontario and you’re an Ontario resident there are a number of great options available to you through the Ontario government. The most well-known option out there for students is the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). If you’re applying to a qualifying school in Canada and are an Ontario resident with Canadian citizenship, permanent resident or protected status, you may qualify for OSAP loans and bursaries.
Often universities will offer scholarships when you have a certain grade average in your grade 11 and grade 12 years. This will vary by post secondary school, program of study and student need. But be sure to do your research as you may qualify! Your first step should be to check the Universities Canada website. This resource provides you with information on many universities throughout Canada and what sorts of scholarships are available.
Once you’ve considered that, try looking for private scholarships that are available based on merit and other requirements. There are a number of scholarships in the large-scale range such as The Loran Scholarship or the Schulich Leader Scholarships. These scholarships are worth $60,000-$80,000 to help you pay for your post secondary education and they are highly competitive. Despite that we would certainly recommend you take a look at the requirements and apply if you think you’d qualify.
There are also a number of smaller scholarships available that will not require as much time to apply to, so for a couple hours of effort, you could gain some big rewards! Not sure where to look? One useful resource comes from the Student Life Network. Their tool called the 99 Scholarships lets you search for scholarships that are related to what you’re passionate about.
How can OES help?
Learning through Ontario eSecondary School can help you with credits you may not have at your physical school or homeschooling experience. If you’re an international student looking to get into a post secondary school in Ontario, we offer Ontario Ministry of Education accredited credits. Getting into university or college you will need to meet certain prerequisite credits and OES offers many specialties in science, math and business to English, geography and health.
OES is a purpose built online high school. Our instructors are experienced in teaching students online and our courses are structured in a clear and concise manner to make it easier for you to guide your learning. As an accredited Ontario online high school, we structure our courses per the Ontario Ministry of Education standards and break up our lessons into very intentional and digestible content that ensures our courses are consistent for all students and creates a positive and streamlined experience so you can earn Ontario high school credits online.
If you’re currently attending high school in Ontario, or if you’re looking for an adult high school in order to upgrade your marks as an international student, OES has a wide range of courses available. From SBI4U to MHF4U, the amazing teachers at OES are ready to support you and help you meet your goals all over the world.
The Ontario eSecondary School has been inspected and accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education. What does this mean? As a virtual school, all of our courses are recognized by and can be used toward an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) and are also recognized as part of your OUAC application. This makes OES a great partner for upgrading Ontario high school credits online and is also perfect for adult students or international students looking to earn credits for post-secondary.
Learn more about our courses at oeshighschool.com
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