In my other work life, I work as an undergraduate advisor for a university. I often meet with people who have no idea where to begin. I get asked a range of questions like:
- What is a certificate, diploma, or degree?
- What is a major, a minor, or a concentration?
- If I take this degree, what job will I get?
- What do I do if I’m not admitted to the university I want?
- When should I be applying?
I have come to realize that a lot of people don’t really know where to find the information they’re looking for. They don’t know the multitude of options available to them, and they often make choices that make me cringe because I know better alternatives are out there. Today’s blog is a brief introduction to the tools I use when discussion the various options for people exploring public post-secondary education*.
Find the program. Understand what you should be considering as you explore education.
Find the admission requirements for the program. Speak to the Advisor of that program. Know exactly what is required for admission and when the admission deadlines are (usually around the end of January for a September start). Take a tour of the campus to make sure it feels right.
At this point, you may need to:
- Have your credentials translated: Many people use the International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) through BCIT. Make sure this is required as it can be an expensive and unnecessary process depending on your goals.
- Have your credentials evaluated for equivalencies: Many people come to me with their credentials from another university. While I would love to say that all of the courses will transfer into the program of choice, I am unable to say how coursework will be evaluated until someone has applied to the university/college (paid the application fee and submitted all required documents). At this point, the admissions office will evaluate for transferability/equivalencies and then inform the student their decision; then, I am able to provide the guidance required.
If you don’t meet the admission requirements, look at ways to get them:
- English – many schools offer a multitude of learning options. You may want to be in touch with your local library to find conversation circles to practice your English, or inquire where you should be looking for more information. Richmond Public Library offers English Circles on Fridays and Sundays.
- High school continuing education – Look to your local school district’s website to see what type of continuing education options are available. Often, high school courses are offered for a nominal fee.
- College transfer – Many colleges will allow students admission as a mature student (over 21 years of age) into their General Arts & Science programs. Students can then take the required number of courses required to transfer to a university (usually 8 courses). The courses taken can be counted directly towards the program requirements of your intended university program so long as you are careful in planning. The BC Transfer Guide articulates how courses transfer from one institution to another in BC.
Check back with the advisor of the program you’re intending to be admitted into to ensure you’re on track. Also check with the advisor of the program you’re in (if you’re transferring from another school) to see what advice they have. The more you ask questions, the more you understand.
Take the program, but get involved in other ways. Completion of a program does not equal an employment outcome. You must have experience alongside your education to be considered when applying for a job. Things you should be exploring in ANY campus:
- Co-operative Education – allows you to gain work experience related to your degree choice.
- Career Services – assistance with resumes, cover letters, employment search techniques, and so on.
- Volunteer experience – all experience is good experience, paid or non-paid.
At any point during the process, you can check in with an advisor if you need clarification. This is what we do. If you’re not getting the answers you seek, ask again or find another advisor.
*It should be noted that there is both public and private post-secondary education in Canada. I am biased. I feel that our public education system outweighs the private education system for a number of reasons:
- Private education is more expensive
- Private education is not transferable to a public institution
- Private education often has a lower employment success rate as employers do not recognize it as much they would public education
If you have questions, leave them in the comments and I will answer you as best I can. If I don’t know, I will direct you to someone who will.