Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Build a Media Portfolio

Perhaps more so than any other profession, getting a job in the media field requires a showcase of your work. While media covers a broad swath of jobs, including writer, photographer, game designer, animator, performer and videographer, the general idea is the same. In order for you to get your career going as a creator, you need to first demonstrate proof that you can create by showing what you have created. There's no better way to do this than creating a portfolio of your work, something college media programs enable you to do. Here's a few things you can do to create one.

Take a Post-Grad Program
If you've already taken a media program, but either don't have enough content to make a portfolio, or simply want more, you can participate in a postgrad at a school like Centennial College, which offers post graduate Bachelor's Degree Programs that each emphasize one strain of media, with an emphasis on creating content, essential for making something you can show off to prospective employers, which these programs will also work to connect you to.

Make use of your school's resources
If you're at a good institution, you won't have to build this portfolio on your own. Your program may have a segment dedicated to putting one together, and if it doesn't, your instructors will gladly help you out. In addition, your school's career centre will likely be able to give you help as well, since they'll be particularly well-versed in the needs of employers.

Get involved in portfolio-enhancing activities
While in your post-graduate program, join some clubs, and participate in some events related to your field of study. Aside from the valuable social experience and networking opportunities that can result from this, anything you produce from participating in these events and clubs, even photos of you getting involved, can create more material to show off.

Save Everything
Regardless of whether you're in a post-grad or regular program, make sure to save any media you create that looks impressive, so you can show it off later. Or, if it's not in a format you can easily show off, record it somehow, even if you just snap a few photos. The important part is that evidence exists. Aim for the visual whenever possible, too, since that will look most impressive

Make a website
There's plenty of free web hosting clients that can be used to do this, and it becomes all but necessary if the media you make is animated or audio-based. A good, professional website can be used to showcase this work, as well as providing something you can link to on your resume. This doesn't mean you should forgo something nice you can print out and show employers, though, and being able to pull work out on cue during an interview is equally impressive.

Four Reasons to Engage in Distance Learning

If you're looking to get a college education, but have to deal with personal setbacks and barriers, then distance learning may be the solution for you. Designed to be convenient and accessible, learning can take place online or through correspondence. If you're getting your education from a college with standard day classes such as Centennial, then you can be sure you're getting the same professional instructor-led content to work through in a place and time of your choosing, via 24-hour access to an online classroom. If you've never considered distance learning, here's four factors that it's designed to work around. If they sound like the barriers you face, then this sort of college education may be the solution you need.
  1. You're working
    You need money to survive, and if you've managed to land a job that can pay the bills, quitting it to then pour money into education may be a luxury you don't have. Or perhaps your work schedule isn't flexible enough to allow you to return to school, and you don't want to reduce your hours and lose out on the cash that comes with them. Of course, the career upgrades that come with an education are worth the monetary investment, but thanks to distance learning, you don't have to sacrifice one for the other.
  2. You're a family man/woman
    Family comes first, and if you have children or relatives that require care, school may keep you away from them for an unacceptably large amount of time. If that's the case, distance education can let you learn with your family around you, so long as you can block off a bit of alone time to work with your course materials.
  3. You work better from home
    Maybe a school setting doesn't thrill you, and you feel like you learn better on your own. Particularly, if you're a mature student, you may not wish to physically return to a college campus. Fortunately, it's possible to learn from home and stay in touch with your instructors by email or discussion board, so you can have it both ways. And really, that's the main idea behind distance education: Letting you broaden your intellectual horizons without having to sacrifice your current life to do it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Making The Leap from University to College

Students who seek a practical college education mixed with a theoretical university experience would do well to take one of the joint college/university programs offered by several Ontario post-secondary institutions. Such programs allow students to participate in a university's bachelor degree program, then head to college for a diploma. If you're a university student, making the transition from one institution to another can be tough to prepare for, so here's some things you should look out for during that transition.

The campus will shrink, and that's not a bad thing
University lecture halls frequently host hundreds of students, but in college, you're looking at those classes of hundreds becoming thirty or so. Far from being a negative, there's advantages to this smaller, more personalized approach, especially because it leads to…

Teachers and a class you'll really know
In a small class, you'll know your instructor, and they'll know you. A teacher you know is one that can personalize their instruction, and whom you can easily form a connection with. Given that college teachers tend to be industry professionals with valuable experience, you'll want to know them when your post-graduate job hunt begins.

As for students, it's impossible to know a class of 200. 30 on the other hand is doable. You'll want to know them firstly to share resources and support during the focused second half of your education, and secondly to become more links in that invaluable post-graduate job search.

A farewell to electives, and a hello to focus
I hinted at this above, but your program is going to be far less general and far more specific. You won't be studying things only tangentially related to your profession anymore. Instead, every class will pertain to your major and your career. And you'll find yourself spending less time listening to lectures, and more time getting up and using your hands, since the idea is to get you practicing your career before it even begins. It'll be all job skills, all the time. And this will pay off in the end, since you'll also be provided with…

Access to job-hunting resources
College is about connecting you to careers, thought practical education and resources. This comes from the fact that you'll be practicing your job, from the fact that your profs will have industry connections, and from the fact that you can form a professional network with you small group of classmates, which you can get to know. This can be literal, too, as between job banks, career resources, field placements, and profs who will email you links to jobs, careers will come first when you make the move to college.

Tips for Surviving Your Continuing Education Course

Even if you've graduated college, it's possible that you wish to further specialize your education. Perhaps you've been working your way through the job market for a few years, and are looking to enhance your marketability with some further certification. Either way, continuing education programs can provide your career with the boost you need to get ahead of a crowded job market. If you're thinking of taking continuing education in Toronto, here's some advice to make sure you approach it in the best way possible.

Before you begin, make sure it's what you want, and you're ready for it
You're not on a timeline anymore, so it's important before you even begin to continue your education that you're certain it's right for you. Is it what you want to be doing? What do you hope to get out of it? Why are you taking it? Is it the right program and subject? What will you do afterwards? These are all important things to keep in mind, so take the time to work them out before you take the plunge.

Examine your options for how to learn
No matter your method of getting continued education, it won't take long. Most courses last for two semesters, plus a field placement, meaning you can be in and out inside a year. But if time, work, family, or anything else are getting in your way, you don't have to make sacrifices for your education. You can take evening or weekend classes, or even engage in distance learning online. Either way, figure out your options and find the approach that best suits you, and prepare to go to work.

Put you education first, regardless of the form it takes.
Just because you can have your continuing education in any form you desire doesn't mean you can phone it in. School is still work, and you're paying money and investing time no matter when that time comes. So be prepared to put the time in, make a schedule, and commit your mind to success. A half-hearts attempt at education won't benefit you.

Make friends
A key to career success is who you know, so it will benefit you to get to know the other faces in your new program. Aside from providing you with career connections, your peers can serve as a source of support and resources during your education. Finally, it's just good for the mind and soul to work in an environment with people you know and like, and the broad demographic of humanity that takes continuing education means that you'll get a look at variety of different outlooks and perspectives on your education, your career, and even life.

Use the opportunity to harness career resources
Returning to school means a chance to be a student again. More importantly, that means access to college career resources, including an exclusive job board, and a career centre with tools to make your job hunt easier and more effective. Add the possibility of a paid placement as a part of your education, and a return trip to college for con-ed becomes an effective way to keep the wheels on your career turning.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How a Four-Year College Degree Can Help Your Career

Far from being separate institutions, colleges and universities communicate and learn from each other, and have begun to influence each other's programming. Universities are becoming more practical, and colleges are seeing the value of extending their programs to include a theoretical foundations. This has led to a special sort of college degree, a four-year bachelor program that offers students the hands-on abilities needed to get the job, combined with a foundation of knowledge that allows them to use those skills with confidence. This type of degree program is available in Toronto, and can offer a student looking to get their career going a competitive advantage. Here's how:

The focus is on getting you employed
You don't need to be told that it's hard to get employment at the moment, and that competition is fierce. Fortunately, the college mission is to clear the path to employment, and provide a shortcut to the job market. Colleges are all about the skills that can get you hired.

Your education will be specialized
Colleges will place an emphasis on practical job skills, and through laboratory settings, field placements and similar opportunities, essentially provide a dry run of the job you're going to do before you do it. If you're going to be a nurse, you'll work in a mock-hospital. If you're going to be a journalist, you'll work on a newspaper, and cut radio demos. The list goes on, but the end idea is that you'll be able to go to an employer and boast that you've already had experience doing your job, instead of simply listening to lectures about it. The grand idea behind college education is: A recreation of your future job, in a safe, secure environment where mistakes are both allowed and encouraged.

You'll still get theory along with the practical
Something previously exclusive to the university experience that college degree programs offer is a theoretical foundations. The reason theory is important is that it ensures before you practice your skills in a college setting, you know how to do them correctly. With a theoretical knowledge base, you can participate in practical labs with confidence, secure in the fact that you're making the right moves, because your instincts come from a place of knowledge.

There are benefits to the college setting
Colleges have a tendency, particularly in later years of a degree program, to have smaller class sizes. Far from being a drawback, this means that your instructors will have a chance to know who you are, and you'll get to know your friends, both perfect for forging your first professional network of contacts in whatever industry you venture into.

Four Tips For Success in The Later Years of College

If you're in your last year of your college program, between your exams, final assignments, and graduation, you could find yourself too busy to take a moment to ask yourself a very important question: "What now?" What does your post-graduate life look like? Do you have the skills and focus needed to land that dream job? Don't get so caught up in the academics of the situation that you lose sight of the important things you need to succeed. Here's what you should be keeping in mind.
  1. It's all about life after graduation
    Never forget that the purpose of school is to prepare you for your career after graduation. Finishing your academics is important, but don't block out what happens after, and assume you'll figure it out once you're done school. It's important that you hit the ground running, and doing so includes doing this….
  2. Start job-hunting now
    Before you're even done school, begin searching job postings online, and through your college's career centre. A common reason for not doing so is simply that you haven't graduated yet, but there's two things to keep in mind here. Firstly, large, professional jobs take time to interview and fill, so if you're looking to be employed after graduation sooner rather than later, getting the process going early is essential. Secondly, there's nothing wrong with marking yourself down as being in school with an “anticipated graduation date,” particularly if you're in your last semester. As for what you should put on your job applications….
  3. Focus less on grades, and more on what the school has given you, and can give you
    Grades are important, and you'll need to keep them up to graduate, but you shouldn't get caught up on the difference between an 80 and a 79. Instead, focus on the learning experience itself, and what you can get out of it. The reason behind going to college is to become employable, to help you launch your careers by developing industry-relevant, practical job skills. A high GPA isn't a guarantee of a career. Remember, employers will never ask what your grades were during a job interview. So pay attention to the skills you've picked up, and spend your final years developing them, or improving on the ones you know need help.
  4. Consider post-graduate options.
    If you've found those skills lacking, and are looking to add some specialization to your education, you may want to consider a post-graduate program. These programs only run for about a year, give you an additional certificate, and focus on the details of a specific career. They'll deepen your understanding and skills of your career, and make you far more appealing to employers. You'll build on your college foundation and gain that extra little bit of employability.

Myths About Post-Graduate Programs, and Why You Should be Taking One

I'll start this off with an overall misconception I'd like to smash: Returning to school after graduation is not a sign of failure. Returning and taking an undergraduate degree program is frequently necessary to get the best possible career, and I'd consider it an investment in your future. Speaking as someone who managed to achieve success through a post-graduate program, here's some things you should consider.

It's not about running back to safety
That's the preconception you have to confront, and I have to deny, having been there myself. There's this backlash against post-graduate students, seeing them as immature, incapable, or afraid to make it in the real world. That's not really true. Postgrad studies are really about adding an extra leg for your education to stand on, in the name of giving you the advantage when job hunting.

You're older and wiser now
If you're returning to school, that means you're no longer a wide-eyed freshman, confused about what you want out of life. You're not at school to find yourself. You know why you're there. You've had a taste of the real world, so you're there to get a link to a job. This means that you'll motivated to work and study much harder, and be able to take school seriously, rather than returning to a safe space.

You're getting another crack at job-hunting resources
There's a few sides to this. For one thing, you'll gain access to your college's job board. On top of that, there will be a host of career-hunting resources available only to students, so getting that status back can be beneficial. In addition, the program you take will be oriented towards getting you a job, and that includes the instructors you'll be working with. For example, in my postgrad at centennial college, my professors actively sent me links to job postings they knew were reputable.

If you pick the right program, the connections will be made for you
Placement is not a dirty word, and when it's an academic field placement, you can be certain you're not serving as free labour for a company with no intention of helping your academic and career progress. For one thing, they can even be paid, as my field placement was. Maybe you bungled your first placement, and want a chance for a do-over, to leave your mark on a company. If so, this is the time to do it. At the very least, you can use the free "in" that comes with a placement to network with the company, create a portfolio, and leave an impression.

Four Tips for Surviving Your Second Year of College

If you're enrolled in a college in Toronto, and you've made it this far, congratulations. You've taken the first major step on the way to your career. But you're not out of the fire yet, you've still got at least one more year ahead of you. Articles like this are often aimed at new students, under the assumption that they need help adapting to their first year of community college. That's a noble goal, but what about someone who's already completed their first year? The challenges never end, and there are new problems to keep in mind. Based on my own college experience, here's what you need to keep in mind to survive your second year.
  1. Don't get overconfident
    Really, the most important piece of advice is not to think that conquering your first year means you're in the clear. Overconfidence can be a career-killer, and the temptation to let your work habits slide because you think the worst is over is a real danger. The fact is that the coming years will probably involve more work than your first year, and you need to make sure you're still in top form when you get to class.
  2. Prioritize your clubs and extra curriculars, and consider trimming as needed
    Speaking of more work, you're going to find that your time is more valuable than in your first year, and if you joined a lot of clubs and organizations, you may find your schedule too packed to handle. It'll be tough if you've been having fun, but you're going to have to really stop and analyze the amount of free time you have. Class has to come first, and you may have to decide to keep only one club, or reduce the amount of school events you go to, in the name of keeping up with your work. It's tough, but your studies will benefit from it.
  3. Self-analyze to decide if you're still happy with your program
    On the topic of analysis, now that you've spent a year in your program, now's the time to really take a step back and examine if it feels right for you, and if the career you're working on is something you really want to be doing for the rest of your life. If the answer's yes, then keep going. If you're not sure, speak to one of the school's guidance councillors. It's better to switch majors or programs now, rather than years (and dollars) later down the line, and your first year probably gave you enough general education credits that you won't be seriously delayed if you change paths.
  4. Build your network
    A year into your program, you've probably made some friends, and since your classes will be more specifically focused around your program, and less general-education, you'll have even more of a chance to get to know the people in your program. There's an important career-building side to this, as they'll be the beginning of your professional network of industry contacts, something you're going to need for your eventual career.

Four Ways Continuing Education has Changed

It's important to your career and wellbeing to drop the stereotypes that surround continuing education. In the modern age, the people that take con-ed, and the people that need it are a diverse bunch, especially considering that both the economy and education itself have changed and even a working professional may need additional schooling to keep up. Here's a few facts about the new face of continuing education:
  1. It's necessary for some jobs
    I probably don't need to tell you that technology is changing and advancing. What does need saying is that innovation is constantly impacting employment. As hardware, software and science continuously update, you'll need to update to keep up. Things don't stop moving once you leave school behind. Maybe it's a matter of advancing your position at your company, or it can also be a matter of simply keeping that position by playing catchup. It doesn't have to be all doom-and-gloom, though. Learning's good for the mind, and should really be thought of as a continuous trip.
  2. It's grown in respect by employers
    In the current job market, a post-graduate certificate, or any other sort of continuing education credit is viewed as specialized training, and marks the one that earned it as specially qualified to work on the job they've trained for. Adding to this is the fact that continuing education programs are often for specific positions, connecting you to a particular career instead of something general, also marking you as someone focused and passionate about your work.
  3. It can be short and convenient
    Another excellent factor in continuing education: It doesn't have to derail your life, and can be had in a short, convenient fashion. At Centennial, post-graduate programs typically consist of two semesters and a field placement, meaning you're in and out in no time. And if you can't devote your 9-5 time slot to learning, then evening and weekend classes, or distance learning online can connect you to your education from afar.
  4. It doesn't have to be for your career
    Remember when I said learning's good for the mind? Well, you don't just have to learn for the sake of the job. You can do it for fun, and take continuing education simply for that reason. At Centennial College, for example, you can take classes in everything from Motorcycle Riding, to Professional Writing, to French and Spanish. If you're looking to meet people, pick up a skill, or even keep your brain healthy, then continuing education for personal fulfillment may fit you just right.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How You Know You've Chosen The Right College Program

When picking your college pathway, it can seem as though you have a tough choice ahead. What you go to school for will determine the career trajectory of the rest of your life, and choosing the right path is essential. You can prepare as much as you're able to in advance, yet in some ways, you won't know you've found your calling until you get down to actually working in your program. It's not doom and gloom if you realize you've chosen something that fits poorly, though, as the schools that provide you with your college programs in Toronto can help you transfer to something that fits you better. What is important is recognizing if the program you're in fits you. Here's some signs that you've made the right choice.

You possess natural talent
While you're going to college to get skills, it helps if you go into a field that you have some natural ability in. If your program serves to enhance skills you already have, you'll know you're in the right place. On the other hand, if you're really struggling, it can be a bad sign.

You don't mind waking up early, and you're willing to work on it on your day off
Just as skill is important, so is passion. If you've found a program you love, then early morning classes, a long commute, and the other factors that make getting there a problem won't seem as bad. Similarly, if you're clocking out mentally as soon as your last class ends, then you're not really invested in your program. But if you live and breathe your field of study, and are willing to look into it for its own sake, then that means you've found a field you'll excel in, because you can bring that same level of passion and commitment to the workforce.

You easily made friends
You'll be surrounded by people with a similar interest to you, so it only makes sense to bond with them. This is especially important, as they're the type of people you'll eventually be working with, so how well you get along with them will directly translate into how well you'll flourish in your eventual workplace. More so than, getting along with like-minded people in your profession is the cornerstone of networking, necessary to get the job to begin with.

There's nothing wrong with changing your path if it suits you, and schools like Centennial College feature academic advising that can help you make that transition easily. What's important is making sure you've found your passion, since that will ensure career success.

Four Ways to Make The Most Out of a Joint Education

First, a primer on what a joint program is, if you don't know. It's a unique sort of post-secondary program that allows you to participate in both college and university education, by taking a Bachelor's Degree Program that involves classes at both schools. You'll get the theory from university, and the practical from college. Schools like Centennial College offer these programs in association with universities like Ryerson and the University of Toronto for programs including Journalism, New Media, and Paramedicine. The benefits of this unique combined experience should be obvious, and if you've decided to take this educational path, here's a few tips on getting the most out of this special kind of education.
  1. Don't just interact with students in your program
    One massive advantage of a joint program is that you'll spend time at two different university campuses. You won't be alone on this journey, as there will be a group of fellow students also participating in this joint education with you. But you'll have time to get to know them, so you don't need to rush it. A student looking to advance their career would do well to get to know as many people at these two campuses as they can, as you never know what connection will advance your career, and you're getting the chance to build a double-sized professional network.
  2. Make sure to participate in student life on both campuses.
    Another advantage of two campuses: The student life. Try joining some clubs and going to events at both schools, especially because the culture of college and university will inevitably be interestingly different. Experiences shape the person, and as a student in a joint program, you're positioned to have a broader variety of experiences.
  3. Stay in touch when you switch schools
    Around the halfway point in your education, you'll make the move from one school to the other. That social networking you did will fall by the wayside if you don't maintain it, so be sure to stay in touch with the friends you made at one school. Visiting the campus sometimes isn't a bad idea, either, especially when the set-up tends to place the two schools close to each other, like with Centennial College and the University of Toronto.
  4. Think about your career as soon as you begin the second half
    In other words, start looking for work before you graduate, as it's going to take time. Even if you don't literally begin handing out resumes as soon as you enter the second leg of the joint program, never lose sight of your ultimate goal in taking it: To give you the kind of specialized educational background that makes you irresistible to employers. To that end, as soon as you move from one school to another, you need to consider how this career will be shaped. Fortunately, a practical college education can be the perfect bridge between school and work, and with your professional network behind you, you have a strong platform to start your job hunt with.

Five Reasons to Curb Your note-taking in College

If there's one thing it's assumed you're going to be doing a lot of during your post-secondary education, it's note-taking. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you're taking them? Perhaps it's to ace the next test, or as references for your eventual career. Well, based on my own college experience, I can say there's a good chance you're hitting the notes too hard, and you need to ease up and spend more time listening, especially if you're at a community college, where the emphasis is more on practical skills. This isn't to say that you should never take notes, but you should definitely be a bit more selective about what you jot down, and here's why.
  1. Notes make you pay less attention to what's being said
    Think about it: When you're frantically scribbling or typing up everything your instructor is saying, are you really listening to them? Sure, you're listening to the words, but you're not absorbing them. You're just putting them in your head long enough to spit them out on the page, rather than absorbing the knowledge. Sure, you could always re-read your notes later, but it's likely double the work. And it may be unnecessary, since…
  2. It's probably in your readings
    Pay attention to whether or not there's a textbook for the course. Or, if there's a slideshow or power point, check if they're going to be posted online. While it's not an exact duplicate of a lecture, if you want to review things at a later date, especially if there's a test, you can use that instead. The important thing is that it frees you from the need to take notes, and instead allows you to spend time listening to the lecturer, and actually absorbing what they're saying, which is a good thing, because…
  3. Your education is about more than simple notes
    If you're at college, you're there to become employable, and pick up some job skills. Job skills aren't acquired by lectures alone. Instead, you get them by getting off your feet and working on things. Lectures and the notes they generate have a purpose, in that they provide you with the theoretical foundation to engage in practical skills, but they're only the first part. Learning by doing is the second component, and if you're at a college like Centennial, then you'll be encouraged to get on your feet and work on your profession.
  4. You won't use them when your semester is over.
    Finally, a bit of honesty. If you're like me, you saved your notes, thinking that you'd refer to them afterwards. The truth is, I never once looked at them again after the year had ended. Instead, I remembered the skills I'd practiced through sheer muscle memory. Taking minimal notes leaves you with less clutter, and more room both mentally and physically for the useful skills you will have picked up by the time your education is over.

Costs and Benefits: Why College is an Investment in Your Future

When the economy and job market are in as much flux as they are now, a bit of financial awareness goes a long way. If you have your money on your mind, you may look at post-secondary education suspiciously, and question its value. Tuition is never cheap, and the idea of going into debt can be intimidating. The temptation can be there instead to go straight to the job market, and try your luck that way, under the assumption that the money saved will hold you off until you can find a job. But there's problems with that reasoning, and reasons why a Toronto degree serves as a good investment, including…

Paying money now will save you in the long run
The type and quality of work you can achieve will improve if you have a college degree. Stats back that fact up. Sure, not going will save you a few thousand now, but you'll be missing out on the chance to earn far more than a few thousand back in the long run.

There are all kinds of weird scholarships. You probably qualify for one
The numbers vary, but it's been said that $15 million dollars in scholarships go unclaimed yearly, simply due to people not applying. The assumption that scholarships are entirely based on financial need or academic merit is an incorrect one, when there's plenty of other scholarship criteria. It's worth a look, and can nullify the money problem if you're willing to put in the time to research it.

It doesn't have to be a long program, and you don't have to quit your job
While there are four-year college degree programs, there's just as many two-year programs as well. In addition, if you already have post-secondary credits, you can take a shorter fast track program, or a post-graduate certificate, which can run for as short of a time as a year. Finally, if you have a 9-5 job, and don't want to give it up, you can opt for distance learning online, which, when taken from a proper college like Centennial, gives you the same professional instructor-led content in a form you can take at a time and place of your choosing.

Placements can be paid
First, something regarding internships and placements: They're not simply free labour. You're there to gain practical experience and networking opportunities, not serve whatever company you're placing with. Nonetheless, it's entirely possible that you'll receive cash, or a stipend, while placing at a company, as I did while I was in school. While it doesn't always happen, it can be a quick, immediate return on your college investment, in anticipation of the further benefits you'll reap down the line.

Five Ways Your Life Will Change in College

If you're a high school student, you probably already know that making the transition to the post-secondary world of community college is going to involve a lot of changes. You'll be doing harder, more focused work, you may be moving away from home for the first time in your life, and you have to seriously begin thinking about what you'll be doing when your education is over. What you probably haven't realized is that there will be all kinds of tiny lifestyle changes. Some of them may seem daunting, but they all come together to help form you into a stronger, more mature person. Some of these life changes are….

1) You'll learn to have a flexible schedule
In high school, you effectively have a 9-to-5 routine: Wake up, eat something, get to school, have two classes, have lunch, have another two classes, go home, do homework, eat a third time, then amuse yourself until you have to go to sleep. Then you do it all again the next day. In college, this all goes out the window. Classes can be at odd times, and odd days of the week, and assignments are erratic enough that the same day may be empty one week, and jam-packed with work the next. This will teach you how to roll with unpredictability, and not sleepwalk your way through a schedule.

2) Freedom, both great and terrible
In college, no one will keep tabs on where you are and what you're doing. You want to skip a class? There's no punishment. You can also wander the halls of the building freely. Overall, you're left to your own devices. This can be a great thing, as you can work at your own pace, and prioritize things in a way that suits you. The downside can be that a lack of structure and oversight can lead to slacking off, since no one's making sure you're in class, or getting work done. Ultimately, it comes down to you disciplining yourself, since you'll be the only one monitoring your actions.

3) Your school will become your home away from home
Regardless of whether you live on campus, near campus, or at home, you'll be spending a lot more time at school than you used to. This isn't really a bad thing, though. Remember, people have to live there, so you'll find everything you need to survive on campus, including food, shopping, entertainment, and study space. A college is far more of a community hub than high school ever was, and you'll find yourself cozy and entertained.

4) You'll care more about money
While there's plenty of scholarship and bursary opportunities available, college will still be expensive, and if you weren't money-conscious before, you will be now. Between transportation, textbooks, buying lunch, and all the other little necessities of student life, you'll find yourself having to manage your savings. Everyone needs a bit of financial know-how to survive, and college is an excellent space to learn about it.

5) You'll learn who your real friends are, and get some new ones
It's natural that you'll drift away from your high school friends, since you no longer have a convenient social setting to see them in five days a week. Don't fret, though. You'll still see some of them, and in the process, learn who the ones who care enough to keep up with you are. Regardless, though, you'll meet a new set of friends in college, and these ones can be used to build your career. If they're in your program, then they want to be the same thing as you post-graduation. Getting to know them can benefit you, since you'll serve as each other's personal network of support and job tips post-graduation.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Four Types of College Programs You Probably Didn't Know About

Everyone has a right to an education, no matter what your situation is. If you're looking to get your career moving, or enhance what you already have, then a college education can give you the practical background you need to succeed. But not everyone's situation is the same, and a traditional few years of college courses may not suit your needs. Fortunately, college programs in Toronto, such as those offered at Centennial College, are nothing if not flexible, and there are several alternative ways to get that education, including…

1) Fast Track
If you already possess post-secondary credits, but either did not graduate, want to change majors, or are returning to school, it's possible to finish your education in a shorter time thanks to fast-tracking. You can complete your diploma in a shorter timespan, often two semesters, while engaging in a more focused education that pays attention to the relevant skills, since you should now have a solid general educational foundation. Programs at Centennial College then lead into a field placement, designed to make you job-ready in a shorter span of time. Of course, the catch is that you must have the relevant pre-requisites before you can enter a fast-track, but if you're qualified, it's a faster way to get your career moving.

2) Joint Programs
Designed to give students a look at two different sides of education, joint programs take the practical teachings that come with a college diploma, and partner them with the intellectual foundation and creative theory that come with a university bachelor degree. A student participating in a joint program with take courses at both a college and university, and receive credit from both, giving them a uniquely blended experience they can then bring to the job market. Centennial College, for example, partners with with Ryerson University and the University of Toronto in nursing, applied microbiology, environmental science and technology, journalism, new media studies and paramedicine.

3) Distance learning
If you want an education, but your job, family, or other life responsibilities are in the way, then you can find a solution in the form of Distance Learning, designed for students who can't make the journey to class on a regular schedule, or at all. Distance learning enables students to get their education on their time and in their preferred space. And when it comes from a respected institution like Centennial, you can be sure you're receiving the same quality education in a form that fits your needs.

Why You Need to Step Outside the Lecture Hall

If you're currently attending or thinking of attending a post-secondary institution, take a moment to consider why, and what you're there to do. While education for the sake of personal enlightenment is a noble enough goal, you're going to need a job when everything is said and done, which means you'll need to pick up some practical skills while in school. While our popular conception of both college and university is that of a student in a lecture hall, listening to a professor, there's more to the post-secondary world than that, and there has to be if a student wants to get a leg up in the job market post-school. At the moment, a few Ontario institutions, including Centennial College, offer what's known as joint programs, where a student can take an Undergraduate Degree Program at a university, then move to a college to get that outside-the-hall education. The advantages to getting more than just lectures are numerous.

You'll learn practical skills by doing
As mentioned above, lectures have their use in the educational cycle: They inform a student of the theory of a career. However, if you want to actually know how to do a job, there's no better way to learn it than by practicing it. At a good college like Centennial, if you're in media, you'll get a chance to create some, if you're in health, you'll work on a simulated hospital floor, and if you're in transportation, you'll actually get to work on whatever vehicle you specialize in. Those skills are what you'll take with you, rather than your lectures, because you won't use your lecture notes when school is done. If you think you'll refer to them later, trust me, you won't. I never did. Spend your time picking up skills, building a portfolio, and constructing a network of contacts, and you'll be far more successful.

Employers value applicants who have worked at their job already.
To be blunt, the subject of your GPA will never come up in a job interview, and your grades cease being important the moment school ends. Instead, what you know how to do will be the subject of the interview, and what will connect you to a career. You know how so many of the jobs you apply for require a certain amount of years of experience? Well, lecture time can't count for that experience, but on-your-feet job training can, particularly if you're involved in a project like a school newspaper or applied research. Being able to say "I've made media," or "I've worked on an engineering project" will put you ahead of those that simply say "I learned about it," doubly so if you have a portfolio of completed work you can show off.

While lectures are important, they're merely the first step in your journey to a career, the theoretical foundation before you learn the real skills. Don't get too hung up on them, as what comes after will be more instrumental in defining the rest of your life.

Five Rules for Surviving Your First Year of College

Ready to begin your post-secondary journey at a Toronto college? The good news is that it's not as hard as media would have you think. The bad news is that it's possible to stumble if you're not prepared. Based on my own freshman experiences, here's five rules I wish I'd known when I began college that you can use to succeed.

1) Figure out what you need to buy in advance
This includes textbooks, pencils, pens, notebooks, clothes, and bags. At the very least, you need to inventory what's left from high school, and verify what's still useable. The same goes for textbooks: You may want to wait and see if a) you really need them, or b) you can't get them for cheaper somewhere else. Regardless, figure it out, and purchase it all well before you arrive for your first day of class.

2) Add an extra half-hour of "getting lost" time
If you're not living on campus, transit will take longer than you think. If you're trying to find where your next class is, it will take longer than you think. If you think you're going to get your readings done in an hour, or an assignment written in two…well, you get the idea. My personal experience is adding an extra 30 minutes to every major task is a good cushion to ensuring you're never late, and meet your deadlines.

3) Get your work done now, for tomorrow, you may be buried
It's a universal truth that life likes to throw curveballs at you, and the best plans will go wrong. There's a reason why I'm repeating this, and it pertains to your work. Let's say you have an essay to be done at the end of the month, and you know for a fact you can write it in a week. You might be tempted to leave it until the final week, and relax before then. But, for all you know, you may get assigned three other things during that final week, or the essay may be harder than you previously thought, or life itself outside the school may get in the way. And when that stuff happens (and it will), you'll be grateful that you did your essay at the beginning of the month.

4) Join some clubs while you can
Despite the scare tactics above, one advantage of your first year is that you'll have more free time than in your upcoming years, so you should take this opportunity to experience campus life through clubs and events. Aside from being a stress-buster, you can begin meeting people and forming a network of peers, something that will be important in the years ahead.

5) Take some weird electives
Depending on your exact program, you'll probably have space your first year to take electives, or random general-education classes to fill up your schedule. This is the time to take things that are odd, or that you don't know how to do, but are curious about. It'll expand your horizons, and may just allow you to discover talents you didn't know you had.

Four Signs You Need to Go Back to School

Heading back to school is always a tough choice to make, especially since we've been told by society that education is something you do once, then never go back to. But learning is really a lifelong journey, and sometimes education is necessary. It's particularly relevant in today's job market, where hundreds of candidates apply for a single position. You need to stand out, and taking a year off to do a post-grad may give you that advantage. Here's a few other reasons why you may need to head back into the world of post-secondary education, and take a look at graduate programs in Toronto.

1) You've spent a year or more job hunting
It's to be expected in today's market that finding a real job will take some time and effort. But, if it's been a year or longer, you may need to take a serious look at what you're missing, and get some education while your skills are still relevant. You'll want to avoid a “resume gap,” for one thing, where it appears as though you've been doing nothing for too long, and a year or so of schooling is a way to avoid that. And when you do go back, at the very least, you'll get to stop handing resumes out for awhile.

2) The work you're finding isn't adequate, and doesn't show signs of changing
This is a bit more difficult to pin down, but it's a situation I personally experienced: Maybe you have been finding work, but it's either contract, or seasonal, or just not the work you really want to be doing. Of course, climbing the corporate ladder takes time, and you won't automatically have your dream job right out of the gate, but if the work you've found doesn't seem like it will lead to what you want, it may be time for a change.

3) The jobs you're applying for almost, but not quite fits your skills
An example of this: There's a lot of journalism students who attempt, post-graduation, to go into public relations. There's a lot of parallels between the two fields, but applicants who have actually studied public relations inevitably have the advantage when applying, since they're a better fit. So, if you're a journalism graduate looking to get into the field, a year-long PR post-grad can give you that last push you need to qualify for that position.

4) Your career has changed in ways your education didn't cover
This applies even if you're in a job you like, and is particularly important if you're working in a technology-related sector. Even if you're happy with the job you have, it may even be necessary to keep up to date. Fortunately, between night school and distance learning, you won't have to quit your job to accomplish this. Not only do things advance, but they advance at an accelerated rate, meaning if your education is a couple years old, there may already be changes in your field you're not aware of. Between social media, new hardware, and new tech, it pays to stay relevant, making a year or so of schooling a solid investment in your future.

Five Different Reasons for Taking a Continuing Education Program

Returning to college after graduation and taking a short, focused program dedicated to a specific job is the foundation of continuing education. Unfortunately, there has been something of a backlash against the practice, with some seeing it as delaying entry into the real world, a sort of prolonged adolescence. In reality, its a means to upgrade and enhance your job skills, and numerous groups of people can benefit from Continuing Education programs. If any of these sound like you, it may be something to consider:

You need a job
First, some reassurance: Its a tough market out there, and if you've been having trouble finding employment after graduation, it doesn't mean your education was inadequate, or that there's something wrong with you. Simply speaking, the markets flooded, and you need to stand out. A focused, specific continuing education program can be used to give you specific job skills, letting you stand out from that crowd of job seekers.

You need a better job
These same advantages also apply if you're unsatisfied with the job you have. Maybe its only part-time, or seasonal, or doesn't really represent what you went to school for. Or maybe you're unsatisfied with your chosen career path, and want to change paths. That same education can be used to alter your career path for the better.

You need to keep your job
One advantage of continuing education is that its current, and can be used to ensure that your knowledge of software, technology and best practices in a career field is up to date. If you're working in a sector that's rapidly changing, it can be to your advantage to keep your knowledge fresh, particularly if its in a sector with high turnover, or a shrinking market. Making yourself valuable with knowledge can be insurance.

You want to advance your job
Similarly, if you're ambitious, and want to climb the corporate ladder, you can use con-ed to enhance your skills and receiving the credit that goes with them, using that extra credibility to earn recognition, promotion, and bonuses.

Ill take a moment here to note that if you are employed, and your schedule seems to make attending school impossible, you can opt to take either weekend or evening classes, or even distance learning, where you can receive your education either online or in print form.

You want to advance yourself
Some think of continuing education not as a matter of career enhancement, but as a method to pick up life skills for their own sake. Its possible to enrol not because you have to, but because you wish to pick up a new skill simply to enhance your own life, or meet similarly-minded people. Between the aforementioned evening and weekend classes, and distance learning, you can augment your life with learning without having to severely disrupt it.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Four Study Tips for a Distance Learner

If you're looking to get or complete your post-secondary education, but your job, family, or life commitments prevent you from attending school, then a course in distance learning can help you get that education at a time and place of your choosing. While it can be convenient and relaxing, it's important to remember that it's still a college education, and distance learning in Toronto can still be challenging. Here's a few tips to ensure you complete your education effectively.

  • Make a schedule and stick to it
    When something can take place without a set schedule, the temptation is to let it slide, and do it "later," with later translating into "never." If you don't set aside specific time for your schooling, it's entirely possible that it won't get done. Even if it's not during the 9-5 workday, you still need to specifically block some time off to get your studying and work done, and stick with it.
  • Set specific goals
    It's not just enough to say "now I will work on my school stuff." Two hours in the evening is wasted if you don't accomplish anything in that time. If you have notes to read, resolve yourself to finish them that evening. If you have an essay to write, get a certain amount of words done. Setting goals for yourself also has the advantage of ensuring you stick to your work, and don't wander onto social media or Youtube.
  • Choose a study space in advance
    Before your education even begins, figure out where you're going to work when it comes time. If you're at home, figure out a spot where you can be undisturbed and undistracted. It's entirely possible that your home isn't even the best place to work, and you're better off clearing out and heading to a library, community centre, or even a coffee shop somewhere. Only you know what will work for you, but the important part is to figure it out before you begin.
  • Don't overthink the prep work
    At the same time, don't waste too much effort building your ideal study space. You know, making coffee, getting snacks, maybe a pillow and blanket if it's cold, shooing everyone away, queuing up music, all those things. I've heard it referred to as "building a nest" before, and it's entirely possible to waste your study time preparing to study if you're not careful. While it isn't always the case, if there's little problems or distractions with your study space, it may be better to grit your teeth and keep working then waste time moving to another one.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Secrets of Community College

University teaches you how to think. College programs teach you how to do, and how to do a job well. In an economy where employment is at a premium, knowing the nitty-gritty details of your career can mean all the difference for your employability and your financial status. Yet college is thought of as lesser, and snobbery has kept this valuable experience a secret. If you haven't heard about the benefits of this practical education, here's what you're missing.

Broader demographics of students
Centennial College, for example, considers it a mission to make its college courses available to everyone, and works to eliminate barriers to education. This means that classes aren't only attended by 19-year old high school grads. People from every walk of life take college classes. University can be an ivory tower, but college is a genuine cultural mosaic. Older, younger, immigrant, native, everyone's different. Being in such a diverse environment gives a student a greater look at the makeup of Canada, and prepares them for life in the world outside school's walls by being an accurate mirror of it.

A practical education for less money
Let's be frank: While it's not a universal statement, and it depends on programs taken, community college can be cheaper than university. On a purely pragmatic financial level, this is obviously beneficial. And that financial benefit will continue, as college will also link you up to the workforce as directly as possible. Between giving you hands on experience practicing your future career in labs and facilities and linking you directly with the workforce via placement and co-op opportunities, students are given tools and opportunities they can use to enter the workforce as soon as they graduate, or even earlier. It's a tough job market out there, and a technical, practical education will put you ahead of the crowd, which will pay off in the long run.

Personalized approaches
Near the end of University, as your education becomes more specific and less general, you may see shrinking class sizes of about 30, full of post-secondary veterans ready to focus on the specific things that are relevant to them. College has that class size and focus from the get go. It can be a draining, isolating, impersonal experience to be in a room of 200, and a small class allows education to be personalized. Your professor (who, by the way, will be an industry professional with real time in their career field) will know you and help you as well, and will be yet another valuable industry contact post-graduation.

Post Graduate Programs: The Next Step in Your Career

If you're in your last year of your Undergraduate Degree Program in College, with your exams, final assignments, and graduation looming, you could find yourself too busy to take a moment to ask yourself a very important question: “What now?” What does your post-graduate life look like? Do you have the skills and focus needed to land that dream job? Or do you think you need a little bit more? If you're looking to specialize your existing education, or even refocus into another subject area, a post graduate program may be for you. Postgrads are short, running about a year in length, and focus on the nitty-gritty ins and outs of a specific career.

Post graduate programs are tailored to build on what you learned at the undergrad level.

This means they're designed to deepen your knowledge of a specific segment of your chosen career. When taking that course, you will have time to deepen that understanding, as well as network with professionals, and gain practical experiences through internships and placements. You're building on your already-secure foundation to gain that extra inch of employability. Another reason a student may take a postgrad is to change the focus of their career path without a need for a lengthy and expensive education to follow it up, opening up new career areas when you hit the job market.

Don't take it on a whim, though. Postgrads can be immensely useful, but a lot of work. Despite their short span, you'll require even larger amounts of discipline and time management to make it. An advantage of this is that you'll be uniquely prepared for the challenges of the working world, having essentially experienced a dry run of that world while still in school. Indeed, you may find yourself approaching this program completely differently. You're taking it because you need something out of the school, shifting the balance of power in your favour.

But it's a two-way exchange. The education is important, but to get the most out of it, you must ensure that you put effort into it, and proactively pursue the networking and job opportunities that may present themselves. It's only a year, long but you need to know what to do with that year if you want to improve your employment prospects. It'll be a challenge, but a worthy one to get a leg up in the job market. If that sounds appealing to you, have a look at what schools like Centennial College have to offer, and cut ahead of the job-hunting crowd.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Distance Learning - A New Frontier for College Students

As technology changes, so does education. Distance Learning has long been looked down upon as a sort of disreputable method of getting a degree, but thanks to advancements in the field of education technology, it's just as valuable as traditional classroom learning. Similarly, distance learners now enjoy a higher profile in the employment world. Because of this, many colleges and universities now offer online courses in a broad variety of subjects.

When taking a course in distance learning, materials can be accessed online. At Centennial College, the virtual classroom is simple enough to run that anyone with a basic laptop or PC can access it. The program isn't done in isolation, either, as students can communicate with each other online, and for a virtual network of support. Similarly, tutors and instructors can be accessed any time through email, or even by phone.

Distance learning courses can be taken for several different reasons, depending on the interests and background of the individual taking them. They can be a hobby taken by a learner that simply want to pick up new life skills, or by a working professional who’s looking to upgrade and enhance their career. This is where that flexibility comes in handy, as study time in distance learning can be balanced along with a day job, ensuring a manageable work-life balance.

This is not to say that each course is easy, though. The great benefit of distance learning is that aforementioned flexibility of when you study, but study you must, since you’ll still have to schedule time in your week to hit the books, be they physical or virtual. There’s also still strict assessment requirements, and students may find themselves having to travel to the school itself to take their exams.

Distance learning in Toronto at institutions such as Centennial College allows a would-be student access to all the benefits of a practical college education, eliminating the time, money, and life reorganization needed to come to campus. Despite the shifting reputation of online education, a way to ensure that education is useful and relevant is to take it from a school like Centennial that already serves as a well-regarded day college. That way, you can rest assured that you’re getting an easily-accessible version of that same great education, in the convenience of your own home, on a schedule that benefits you. Fitting, since one of Centennial’s missions is to eliminate barriers to success. You should still be able to learn, despite any issues with life commitments, finances, or time you might have.

A Few Popular Misconceptions About College Education

Between the media, guidance councillors trying to put motivation in you, and general lack of knowledge, a high schooler heading into a College Degree Program can walk away with a few misconceptions of college, chiefly that it some sort of hostile environment, full of nothing but roadblocks. I won't sugarcoat one thing: It'll be tough, and you'll be a different person coming out of it than going in as a result. But there's a few things the average high schooler gets wrong about getting your Toronto degree, things that are less difficult and rigid than you may think.

Myth: Every class you miss brings harsh penalties
A big shock that hits a high schooler upon entering the post-secondary world is just how little attention is paid to where you are. There's no longer any penalty for missing a class. Unless it's a tutorial, attendance isn't being taken. In truth, there aren't any formal academic penalties for missing classes.

On the other hand, there's a more difficult angle to this now. No one's keeping track of you, so it's up to you to keep track of yourself. Yes, you won't be penalized formally for a class you skip out on, but you need to be aware that it's an important lesson that you missed out on. If not that, then maybe a due date for an assignment was revealed, or your instructor revealed topic that will be on your final. Either way, it's your risk now.

Myth: The structure of the program is even more rigid than high school
By structure, I'm referring to class times, deadlines, and scheduling. And this one is just false. If anything, structure is looser. In college, classes can be moved, cancelled, extended, or cut short at any time for any reason. Of course, most instructors and schools will avoid too much upheaval, but it's still more common than in high school. And if you're late for class, no one's going to lock a door, or ask you to get a late slip from the office. Of course, you may get some dirty looks coming in late, and constantly asking what you missed won't put you in anyone's good graces, but you needn't live in fear of the mad dash to morning class.

Myth: You're on your own
Another falsity. Just because no one's keeping track of you anymore doesn't mean no one cares. There are numerous resources present for your success in college, and it all starts with your instructors. Their email addresses will be out there, and they'll have office hours you can use. If anything, they're invested more in your future than your high school teachers. It's just up to you to seek them out instead of them finding you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Three Benefits of Learning from Home

Education is everyone's right, and if you're thinking of getting that practical college degree, but life seems to be standing in the way, there is hope. A program taken by distance learning in Toronto allows you to experience all the benefits of college education without having to come to campus. Courses in distance learning can eliminate barriers to success. If it's an issue of time, money, or other life commitments, you can still get your learning in.

Online education has struggled with its reputation in the past, but if it comes from a school like Centennial College, a solid community college with proper day classes, then you can be assured that you're receiving the same quality experience, only from the comfort of your own home. There's a few benefits to receiving your education in your personal living space, but it can really be narrowed down to three factors.

Flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to distance learning, and learning from home enables that flexibility. Instead of pulling both late nights and early mornings, you can catch the regulation seven-to-nine hours of sleep whenever you can, and start and finish that education at whatever time of day you're ready. There's other time benefits, too. If you weren't going to distance learn, and your plan was still to live at home, making the trip to campus is no longer a concern. Not having to commute to and from school can save you hours both ways, particularly in the GTA, freeing up massive chunks of your schedule. This links into the second major factor.

Time is money, after all, and not having to make that commute will save you one way or another, be it through gasoline, parking spots or Metropasses. On top of that, you'll be bypassing all the little expenses that come with campus life. No need to, for example, rent a locker, or buy a new school bag. In addition, you'll never be tempted to subsist off of fast food, or anything else pre-made. Groceries will always be cheaper than what you can buy on-site, and you'll never have to worry about making your lunch the night before.

On the flip side of the transportation argument, if you were planning on living on campus, moving out can be strenuous. If it's your first time away from home, you'll have new responsibilities, and new worries. School should be your first focus, and distance education lets it be your only focus, with the familiar comforts of home there to allow you to put your mind to your sole task of getting that relevant, career-building education.

The Benefits of a Summer Postgrad

Perhaps you've graduated college already, and want to focus your education further. Or maybe you've been in the job market for a few years, and are looking to enhance your personal brand with some further accreditation. Either way, if you're thinking of taking a postgrad, there's another potential advantage to consider. Several graduate programs in Toronto, such as the ones at Centennial College, have the option of a January start, with the second semester stretching into the summer. Anyone that comes from a traditional high school background probably has an almost instinctive fear of summer school, but this sort of unconventional start and finish date can benefit a student in a few different ways. Here's how.

An empty campus makes student life and education easier
While unconventional education is rapidly becoming the norm, summer students in college are still in a minority, which means they'll learn at college campus that's far emptier than usual. Far from being a drawback, there's several advantages to this. For one thing, if you're driving in, there's far less traffic to worry about, and parking comes easier. On campus, if you need study space, it's everywhere. College is already a more intimate, personalized setting, but during the summer semester, that's maximized, with every teacher knowing who you are, able to custom-tailor your education, and you having a dedicated support network of students around you due to the smaller class sizes

It lets you get a jump on the job market
Monster, Forbes, and other sources peg two major seasons as the largest time for professional hiring: September/October, and January/February. The timing of a summer continuing education program's graduation means you're in the perfect place for your job hunt to hit these two windows. Graduating in August lets you get a jump on the fall hiring season, and given that most students will be in school January/February, you have lone access to that time as well if you missed the first window.

The summer weather makes life less stressful
Marc Jean took a postgrad at Centennial College's Story Arts Centre, and one of his fondest memories there was after class, or on his breaks. He used to have lunch downtown with his classmates every Friday. Such a scene could only happen during a summer semester, and it enhanced his educational experience as both a stress-buster and an activity to look forward to. Moments like that are what a summer postgrad can give you.

How the Community in College Can Benefit You

A student looking to complete their post-secondary education may look at Community Colleges with a critical eye, viewing them as the lesser educational path. One potential complaint is both the smaller class size and smaller campus size removing some legitimacy. Well, nothing's farther from the truth. Instead, that smaller size creates the "community" in the name of the college. And when a community surrounds you, you reap numerous educational and life benefits.

At a community college, it's easy to get to know everyone in your class, and for them to get to know you. It's strange how isolating being in a lecture hall of 200 can be, but 30 is a more manageable amount. Instead of a crowd of classmates, you'll have friends, colleagues and peers. you'll know everyone and they'll know you. This translates into academic and personal support. When school gets tough, you'll have a study group, a team to share resources, and a dedicated crew for working on group assignments. And going to school is always easier when you're with friends.

The Personal Touch
That community doesn't just refer to the students around you. In a class of 30 the instructor is able to know who you are, too. Knowing the instructor means you'll receive personalized help and education. On top of that, they'll be easier to talk to for help and advice, be it through email or in person. At colleges like Centennial, those instructors are industry professionals, with time spent in the career you're interested in. Getting to know them can be beneficial to your own career in the long run. Speaking of connections…

Colleges in Toronto like Centennial do everything they can to connect students to their career, and one such method is connecting them with professionals in their field. Another way is those previously mentioned industry professional instructors, and yet another is field placement and co-op opportunities that put students in front of the actual career. This is all in the name of helping students develop a network of contacts in the industry, the first step to finding career opportunities.

However, students can take those first steps themselves, by connecting to the community around them in the form of their classmates. Each one of them is looking to break into the same career path, and if you all stay in touch with each other as you finish school, then you have the first steps in a broader professional network, perfect for sharing resources, job tips, and general support. That's how the community keeps paying off even after school is completed.

Monday, December 1, 2014

University and College unite Their Differences for Joint Programs

In Canada, there's a cultural perception that a child should be sent to university, that university is the king of post-secondary education, and that everything else is beneath it. The reality is much more complex, though. While it's true that a university education can offer excellent growth to a young mind, it's not automatically going to be the perfect fit for everyone.

You don't need to be reminded that it's a tough job market out there, but it's still important to note than any student seeking higher education should be looking to use it as a way to cut to the front of the line in a job hunt. Regardless of the quality of your education, a degree that isn't oriented towards getting a career, or a program that doesn't provide anything in the way of relevant work experience could leave you in the cold when it comes time for a job search. At the same time, you have to want the education in what you're getting, and university just doesn't fit some students. If you like reading, writing, and mathematics, for example, a Bachelor's Degree Program at a university is for you. Meanwhile, examples of a student who should be college-bound are those who like practical problems or working with their hands. Ideally, then, you need to be combining a degree in something you're passionate about with relevant work experience to both excel in your program, and get that advantage in the employment market.

But too few potential Canadian students really invest time in figuring out which program is right for them, and ignore the potentially-more-fitting college education. Canada has one of the top post-secondary education systems worldwide, and this includes Colleges, which are traditionally good a changing and accommodating for a changing workforce, and meeting their needs.

However, there's a way you can have it both ways. If your future in the job market worries you, but you still want what a university education offers you, a solution may come in the form of a joint program. Offered by several Ontario colleges and universities including Centennial College, these unique programs start a student off at university for a theoretical foundation of knowledge, then send them off to college to learn the practical skills of their career.

Aside from the obvious advantages of two different educational perspectives, there's another very simple, elegant advantage: Two sets of credentials. At the end of a joint program, you have the opportunity to receive both a degree and a diploma, as proof entering the job market that you're a multi-talented individual with a uniquely layered perspective on your career of choice.