College vs. University: 3 myths debunked
It’s exhausting trying to navigate the onslaught of brochures and recruiters making their pitch at high schools around the country this time of year. While university is sometimes the obvious choice, depending on your career path, college and trade schools have lots to offer. They sometimes get left out of the equation due to some common misconceptions. Let us clear those up for you…
Myth #1: People only go to college because they can’t get into university
Truth: Most of my friends from university changed their majors and degree programs more often than their socks. While that may not be saying much, the point is that many university students have no idea what they want to do with themselves and are paying thousands of dollars a year to figure it out.
Colleges, on the other hand, are far more goal-oriented. They tend to be full of people who mean business, often times after having finished a generic university degree program and realizing that what they really want to do requires more specific training. Therefore, I would suggest to you that while people may go to university because they can, they go to college because they should.
Myth #2: I’ll get a better job and make more money if I go to university
Truth: Stats Canada’s latest survey results show that students from a college or trade school are more likely to become employed following graduation than those graduating with a bachelor’s degree from a university (Statistics Canada, 2010).
Add to the mix the cost of living during the average 4-year university degree program compared to that of a college or trade school, which usually offer program diplomas in half the time. All this to say that, while salaries may be generally higher for jobs requiring a university degree, colleges have the potential to get you out of school and into the workforce sooner and with a higher percentage of employment than your average university program. You do the math.
Myth #3: The quality of education at a university is better than college
Truth: I took a course in university called “Leadership and Group Dynamics”. For whatever reason, our professor was from the Nursing faculty despite the fact that it was a Recreation Management class. We spent 4 weeks watching the movie “Alive” and analyzing each character’s leadership style as the group tried to survive a plane crash in the Andes Mountains. I came home from class every week and wrote a letter of complaint to the Dean.
I could also tell you about my first-year Sociology class that had 350 students in it, over 40% of whom failed the course. Or about my roommate who did an exchange in France for a year and was told, upon her return, that she didn’t have enough credits to graduate and would have to spend another entire year at school in order to qualify for her BA with a major in French.
Consider all the possibilities
Universities can be large, impersonal and disorganized. While your prof may have a PhD, it is often a grad student TA marking your work and leading tutorials. Colleges, on the other hand, tend to have much smaller class sizes and a wide variety of instructors who have proven to be experts in their particular field. The work is specific and applicable. It’s quality over quantity in most cases.
Like I said, sometimes university is the obvious choice. You can’t become a cardiac surgeon or district attorney at your local community college. But if you truly are weighing the options and trying to consider all possibilities before making the big decision regarding post-secondary education, it’s important to know the facts and be informed about the pros and cons of each type of program at your disposal.
Besides, university and college misconceptions make for pretty lame myths. Those should really just be reserved for cool stuff like dragons and sea monsters.