Canada is a preferred destination for international students for its accessible work permit laws and a straightforward path to permanent residence. But, before you get to any of those tracks, you have to finish your diploma, post-secondary, or graduate program and get the work permit.
Many international students take the route of studying at one of the designated learning institutions. These institutions often deliver industry-standard learning outcomes and support international students.
There are several obvious benefits of studying at one of these Canadian colleges:
- Colleges are most cost-effective.
- Colleges tend to have Co-op opportunities.
- Colleges often hire industry practitioners as professors.
- The college community is often tight knit, unlike thousands of students across a dispersed university campus.
The only challenge is – you have quite a few options to choose from. Ontario itself has about 27 colleges, with each one offering a wide range of programs. If you are researching colleges, get your pencils and notepad ready. Here are the points you should consider before selecting the right college.
8 Points to Consider Before Selecting a Program
Here are the top 8 points you should consider before selecting a college program.
1. Program Structure: Credits and Tenure
Unlike Indian institutions, Canadian colleges are dependent on the credit-based system. This system directly impacts your tuition fees and how long it will take you to graduate from the program.
Generally, for post-secondary courses, you will find programs that have one of the following full-time structures:
- One-year and two-semester programs.
- One-year and three-semester programs.
- Two years and four-semester programs with study breaks.
Theoretically, you should go for the program that fulfills your career goals and the immigration criteria to meet the work permit requirements. However, it would help if you instead focused on the employable skills you can pick up during the program. For instance, if the course stretches for two years and has several filler subjects, you can instead go for two 8-month programs.
2. Faculty: Professionals vs. Academicians
Once you have determined whether the course will make you employable or not, you can focus on what type of faculty members you will get to interact with. Some courses are taught by academicians who bring several years of experience in research and academia to the classroom. But, several courses are taught by professionals who understand the applied side of what you will learn in the program.
While academic professors can drill the concept deep into your psyche, professionals can help you better understand the industry landscape and connect you with other professionals in the industry.
You can also research platforms like ratemyprofessor.com to find the best professors at your prospective college.
3. Dedicated Job Portal
There is a very high possibility that you will find your initial jobs from your referral network, LinkedIn, Indeed, or even jobs.gc.ca. However, your college should still have a dedicated job portal.
Every major college in Ontario has a dedicated job portal, much like – Seneca College’s SenecaWorks, Sheridan College’s Sheridan Works, Humber College’s CareerConnect, and George Brown’s GB Careers. Such dedicated job portals ensure the college has filtered the jobs in line with what your program and college students can offer. Moreover, such portals often let you use one application for several jobs and are updated frequently.
4. Built-in Career Development Courses
This might not be possible for every course. But, if you are choosing a course that promises to make you eligible for a job directly after graduating, you should choose a course that has some component of career development baked into the course curriculum.
For instance, the Financial Planning program at Seneca College has a dedicated subject called Career Development in the first semester and Field Placement in the second semester. The subjects train you to develop a video resume, an optimized CV, and tailored cover letters.
While the career services desk can help you with the same areas, however, having such a course baked into the curriculum will get more time and incentives to make your profile more enticing for potential employers.
5. Industry Interfacing: Courses, Workshops, and More
Let’s assume you want to become a dentist in Canada. What are the licenses you will need? How much will it cost to get these licenses? Are there any credit waivers you can access?
Industry interfacing will help you get answers to many such subjective questions. The good thing about collegiate systems like the Ontario Colleges is that they train professionals. So, someone achieved the same thing a few years ago, whatever you want to do. And now, by organizing workshops or dedicated courses with such members of the alumni network, your college can give you access to informed opinions, facetime with hiring managers, and hours of research packed into a few minutes of an information interview.
Cooperative learning is the essence of apprenticeship and helps international students get the trifecta of benefits:
- Deepen the understanding of concepts learned in the classroom setup.
- Cultivate a network of professionals and get feedback on one’s work.
- Make some extra money to offset the expensive tuition for international students.
All programs do not have room for Co-op learning. You can still focus on working on an industry project or a capstone project that gives you a virtually identical experience without any stipend.
7. Alumni Network (Secret Tool: LinkedIn)
Every college has an alumni network. What you should try to learn is:
- What was the first job most of the alumni from your program and college landed?
- How long did it take them to go from that job to the next one?
- What are the industry licenses and certifications they have?
Once you have determined this, try to reach out to as many alumni network members as possible. You should schedule an informational interview with them and get an inside scoop on the college, the program, and their job-hunting strategy. Once you have developed a relationship, you can convert this into a referral for your first job.
8. International Student Body
Most colleges have a dedicated international student body. Try to get this body’s dedicated webpage, email address, and names of the key members in the working team.
Access to the international student body will help you answer many questions around tuition payment deadlines, credit transfers, visa renewals, etc. The more accessible the body, the easier it will be for you to settle into and graduate from the program.
While this is not an exhaustive list of points to consider, if your college program fulfills all the points listed here, you are positioned to have a great learning experience along with strong employability prospects. And if you can leverage both of these benefits, you can get into the same career tracks as several university students without the excessive student debt.
Use this list as the initial filter between programs. You will naturally gravitate towards colleges like Humber, Sheridan, Seneca, or George Brown in Toronto or comparable counterparts in other major cities.
If you are looking for admission in any college in Canada, please contact us at 778-564-0192.