Discover what makes public colleges and private career colleges in Canada different from each other.
As you begin your search for post-secondary schools, you may come across two different types of colleges: public college and career college. Both may seem similar at first, which may have you wondering, “what is the difference between a college and a career college?” and “does it really matter which one I choose?” Yes, there are a few key differences between these types of college that may impact which direction you choose.
Discover the top four reasons how public colleges and career colleges are different:
1. Cost of your education
The biggest difference between public colleges and private career colleges is the cost. Public colleges are largely funded by the government which subsidizes the cost of tuition. This means that your tuition fees are usually cheaper at public colleges, especially if you’re a domestic student.
Private career colleges don’t receive any funding from the government, so they rely more heavily on tuition fees. This means that your tuition fees may be more expensive than at public colleges. However, private career college tuition typically doesn’t vary in price between domestic and international students.
Be sure to keep in mind other factors that may impact your education and finances: location, scholarships and awards, and if the school is a Designated Learning Institute (for international students).
2. Program options
Since public colleges are funded by the government and have a larger student enrolment, there is a greater range of programs that are offered. At public colleges, you’ll find a variety of programs that cater to both career-oriented and academic pursuits. For example, one school could offer programs in fashion, designing, technology, media, business, marketing, engineering technologies, and many more.
At private career colleges, there are a limited variety of courses to choose from. However, the programs that are offered at these colleges are more vocational and career-focused, meaning what you’ll learn in class is tied directly into what employers are currently looking for in the market. Many popular programs at career colleges are healthcare, law, business, and technology.
3. Program length
The length of programs also varies among public and private career colleges. Most public colleges offer a more traditional timeline for their programs — two-year diploma programs and three-to-four-year bachelor’s programs.
In contrast, many private career colleges offer one-to-two-year programs. However, many of these schools will often offer accelerated programs, where you’ll complete your program in a shorter amount of time. Some schools offer programs that don’t exceed one year. So, you could complete your program and start your career much sooner than your public college cohorts.
4. Class sizes
Due to the cheaper tuition fees and better recognition, there are more students who attend public colleges. So, your class sizes will be larger. Keep in mind that class sizes for colleges in general are still typically smaller than at Canadian universities.
However, private colleges will have fewer students, meaning much smaller class sizes. This could increase your one-on-one time with your professors, giving you a greater opportunity to establish valuable connections and gain more help with your schoolwork. Due to the smaller enrolment numbers at private career colleges, there may be fewer academic support resources available. Most career colleges will provide career services support to help you find a job when you graduate.
Ultimately, your choice depends on what you want to get out of your education. If smaller class sizes are a big attraction for you, then check out some private career colleges. If affordability is the biggest factor for you, then explore your options for public colleges!