College vs University  
How Do They Differ

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. 

University Studies
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.

College Programs
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.

My Personal Experience
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.

So 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.


<<< Previous

Page 30

Next >>>