You may have stopped thinking about college after you chose to attend U of T. College, however, is not just for high school graduates. It is also a very practical and useful option for students with a bachelor’s degree, and you should consider it while you decide what to do after graduation.
At U of T, you learned a lot of fantastic transferable skills, but many graduate programs do not directly prepare you for a workplace outside of academia. A college program can complement your theoretical, critical thinking skills with hands-on training in a specific field.
This makes you a more attractive job candidate, and also gives you confidence as you start your first job, since you’ll have done many of the tasks before in a college classroom setting. Many college programs also have mandatory co-op options, giving you real world work experience in your field before you hit the job market.
Since college programs tend to be less of an expense and time commitment than graduate school (many programs take one or two years to complete), college is a great option to save money and start your career quickly.
There is a huge range of college programs available; in Ontario alone, there are over 4,500 to choose from. While you were at U of T, you only had to choose a faculty in your first year. College is a bit different – you sign up for your specific program right from day one. So spend some time doing your research now.
There are programs for almost any career you could imagine, including fields like culinary arts, marketing, financial planning and many, many more. Consider starting to think backwards: what kind of career do you want to end up with? Search for related keywords in the database of programs to find out how to get there.
Applications to all colleges in Ontario go through one centralized system, and many other provinces have similar online application portals. If you applied to U of T as an Ontario resident, the process is almost exactly the same as when you applied for your undergraduate program. You pay one fee to apply to up to five programs (with no more than three programs at one college).
The deadline for equal consideration is February 1, so if you are interested in one of the “highly competitive” programs, you need to submit an application by this date. Highly competitive programs are those that receive more applications than available spots in most years, so all of the spots will be filled with people who submitted their applications by the deadline. These include programs to become a paramedic, medical technician, a social service worker and many more that can be found on Ontario Colleges’ website.
You can still choose to enroll in college much later in the year, however. Many programs have open spaces that are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and college can extend offers in the summer before the program starts. If you know which program you want, you should still apply by the deadline, but be aware that college might still be an option if you miss it.
Paying for college
As we mentioned before, one of the upsides of college is that its tuition fees are often considerably lower than what you’re used to paying as an undergraduate student. Unlike many graduate programs, however, you will not be funded by the school, and may still need to find outside financial assistance and live within your undergraduate budget.
Many of the same options you had as a U of T student are also available to help you fund a college program, including scholarships, bursaries and OSAP. Check each individual school’s website for specific information on their financial aid.