Deciding between college and university is a tough decision, and it’s important to consider one’s strengths and interests when making the decision. It is also important to keep in mind that there are many colleges with transfer programs in which students move to university from college in second or third year, and similarly some students who begin at university later choose to complete a college program.
A brief description of what can be expected at college and university is given below.
Colleges tend to be more directly career-oriented than universities. They often offer practical or hands-on training in smaller classes, which can lead to greater student-teacher interaction.
Colleges offer a range of programs, including apprenticeships, certificate programs, diplomas, and degrees. Programs range from less than one year, up to 3 or 4 years. Some colleges also offer programs in partnership with a university to grant both a degree and a diploma.
Students who have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (or equivalent from another province) can apply for college programs. Students who have not completed high school, but are at least 19 years old are also eligible to apply for some college programs. Different programs and schools may have additional requirements, so be sure to check them out before applying.
Universities generally offer programs that are more theory-based and academic than colleges. Instruction tends to be lecture based, and many classes are quite large in size, meaning professors may not have the opportunity to get to know students on an individual basis.
Universities generally offer 3 and 4 year undergraduate programs (a bachelor’s degree), as well as graduate programs (master’s and doctoral degrees). The 4-year program (sometimes called an honours degree) is usually required to go on to enrol in a graduate program. Some universities offer partnerships with a college to grant a degree and a diploma concurrently.
To apply to university, an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent is required, often with a certain number of high school credits in university or academic level courses. Each university has its own admissions policies, so be sure to check them out before applying.