Monday, October 22, 2012

The advantages of a college education

By Eric Glanville, Office for New Students

Making a decision about where to begin your post-secondary education is one of the most exciting (and nerve-wracking) decisions that most of you will ever undertake. In B.C., we're lucky to have a wide variety of colleges, institutes and universities to choose from. But the plethora of options can be overwhelming, and I'm often asked, “What’s the best school?"

This is a little like asking, “What's the best car?"  The answer depends on your specific needs, goals and values. But whether you're looking for a certificate, diploma, degree or post-degree diploma, there are some real advantages to starting your educational journey at a college. Here are three:

Class size
: As a post-secondary student, you must quickly learn to read, write and study at an advanced level. In university, you try and develop these skills while attending lecture theatre classes with 500-800 students – a daunting challenge. Colleges offer the same courses, curriculum and credits in an average class size of 30-35 seats. That means you can focus on developing these essential skills under the close supervision of instructors who know you by name, and within a peer group small enough to be supportive.

Entry requirements: Universities look at five high school grades, blend them into a Grade Point Average (GPA), and then rank students according to this score. Colleges have a simplified system that focuses on just two things: Grade 12 graduation and an English 12 score (“C” or better). That’s it. And if necessary, you can do upgrading courses at the college while beginning your program – often at no additional cost.

Cost: When you invest in education, you need to carefully examine the cost of all options. If the quality of the product is the same, is there any difference in price? In this case there is: taking courses at a college typically costs 40 percent less than taking the same courses at a university. Factor in the smaller class size (and resulting increase in face time with instructors), and that’s a pretty good-looking investment.

Perhaps these are the reasons why more students enter Simon Fraser University through Douglas College than just about any other post-secondary school in B.C. Whether you want to be a doctor, lawyer, business leader, child care worker or any other type of professional, starting at a college is a great way to do what you love. And be good at it.