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6 Tips for Choosing a Post-Secondary School
You have decided to go back to school. Congratulations!
Having made that big decision you are now faced with another question - which school do you choose?
Here are some tips to help you decide.
Quick Is Not Always Better
I like to use the comparison of cooking with a microwave or an oven. Although a microwave is great for popcorn, it isn't good cooking a big dinner. Some private career colleges offer 6 month programs that may be a good option for upgrading or refreshing your skills. However, a 6-month program will never compare with a 2 - 4 year program.
Where Did Your Future Co-Workers Study?
When choosing a program, don't hesitate to ask people working in the field where they studied. Too shy to ask? Go onto some of the website forums and ask online or research a the profession profile. Professional Associations will be happy to give you any advice you might need. Your future success is in their best interest.
Beware of the "Heavy Sales" Approach
If a school is trying to talk you into enrolling into a program or attempting to get you to "sign on the dotted line," be careful. Also, beware of any school that is willing to make compromises on the course of study. For example, if they will waive a placement or shorten the program for you.
Question the Claims
Some schools will make large claims, such as "Our graduates have a 97% employment rate!" Ask questions like, where did their students get employed and in what period of time did they get employed?
Labour market statistics can be easily manipulated too. For example, if I told you that there was a 100% increase in a certain field in the past year that could simply mean that last year there was 1 person employed and this year there are 2 people. Use trustworthy sources of labour market information.
Can You Get This Training Free or at Low Cost?
There are great adult learning centres across Ontario, which offer courses in different subjects, such as hairdressing, business, caregiving and computers. Check in your municipality for general and continuing education courses. Sometimes you can get a reduced rate on the tuition costs, if you have a low-income.
Don't Hesitate to Ask Questions
Visit your local employment or career centre for help with identifying your career goals and the training you need to get there. You can visit online forums, such as the Settlement.Org Discussion Forum, and ask others for their feedback.
Choosing the right school can be very important in determining your future path. Your research will be well worth it. Good luck!
Contributed by Deborah Noel, a Toronto-based employment counsellor and facilitator with years of experience helping newcomers find work.
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July 13, 2016