Three aspects to consider on your path to post-secondary success

Credit to Author: Geneviève Beaupré and Susan Qadeer| Date: Tue, 08 Nov 2022 15:16:40 +0000

While selecting the right academic program is important, there are many key questions to ask on your path to post-secondary success. Here are three items to consider: the importance of choosing the right school, the benefit of the relationships that may develop while at school and the need to strike the right balance between school and work.

Should you go to a public or private school?

Most Canadians who attend university or college go to public institutions. There are some private universities and colleges and some of these are religious-oriented, unlike the public institutions. Students looking for short career-specific courses can find them in both public and private colleges. Students who don’t have to pay international student fees may find public colleges more affordable but may opt for a private college for their quicker, employment-oriented courses. These courses tend to be in the health sciences and IT fields and often take under a year to complete.

Thorough research is needed to make sure that the school is accredited or recognized in the field you are studying and that the subject matter makes good career sense in whatever province or country you intend to work in. There may be significant cost differences, quality and school recognition issues as well as convenience factors for you to explore. Do not assume that a course that is more expensive or shorter is better. Thoroughly researching and understanding the school and program is sometimes confusing but very necessary.

How can relationships enrich your experiences at school?

Going to post-secondary school is about many things. Besides getting an advanced education, possible preparation for a career, an opportunity to grow personally and intellectually, it facilitates meeting new people. These could be potential friends, partners, your network and mentors. The relationships that are formed with students, faculty and staff are part of your present and even your future. These are forged in the classroom, at social events, through group work projects, in residence and on student jobs. Even with the return to in-person learning, cementing relationships requires work, courage, tolerance, understanding and some skill. The rewards are many. Besides the pleasure that friends bring, being with others offers the opportunities to improve language skills, deepen understanding of Canadian culture and have support as you take on school and work.

Can you fit in working while studying? 

Many students benefit from working part-time while studying full-time. Not only is the money welcome, but working can fill out your resume, may give you career-related work and Canadian experience, could increase your network of friends and colleagues, and possibly help you try out different work directions.

While the benefits of working while at school seem endless, there are also down sides that need to be factored in. Attending to your studies is critical. You need to be available to attend classes, participate in group work meetings, go to required labs and tutorials, do your readings and homework and meet with professors, as needed. Going to school full-time is like a full-time job. School needs to be the major commitment and work should fit in with that.

If you greatly increase the hours you work as is now allowed for international students, there will be a tendency to cut corners on your academics, sleep, meetings with other students, and participating in extra-curricular activities. You may end up watering down your post-secondary experience or possibly put your studies in jeopardy. Before taking on a greater proportion of employment, determine how many extra hours you can manage without compromising your studies. Look for an employer who offers some flexibility when you need extra time for exams and assignments. See if there are work opportunities at your school so commuting is minimized. If possible, look for work that offers you more than a pay cheque.

If you can, be strategic in how you use your work opportunities. School can help you decide what work you want to do, it can give you the skills, knowledge and credentials that can lead to more sustaining and better paying work.

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