Is college after university a good idea for career development?
May 13, 2009 2:00 PM   Subscribe

What are your experiences with college after university? Is it helpful with career progression?

(Some specifics - skip to the bottom paragraph if you like!)
I'm done my BA (in Ontario) and I'm considering some local college programs (in particular, this one).

I'm evaluating programs mainly based on whether or not the experience will help me professionally.

This particular program includes an 8-week placement with a public sector organization (presumably the government). The FAQ lists all kinds of lofty post-graduation employment opportunities but I can't tell how realistic these are based on completing a one-year college program.

I plan to get in touch with the program coordinator and ask some specific questions... but I want to ask MeFi:

What are the benefits and drawbacks of attending college after university? Did you find the experience helped your career? Did the field placement help?
posted by cranberrymonger to Education (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Depends on the program. Ask around to find some recent graduates and talk to them. The coordinators have a vested interest in promoting their program and selling it.
posted by benzenedream at 2:31 PM on May 13, 2009

I think your wording here is going to confuse the heck out of US MeFites. Which might be fine, and you might only want responses from your fellow Canadians, which is certainly your right.

So I am one of those who are confused. Your link goes to a certificate program for people who have already earned a bachelor's degree. Are those post-graduate programs, when offered by a Canadian institution that identifies itself as a "college," automatically less prestigious than those offered by a Canadian institution that identifies itself as a "university"?

And of course your wording will confuse even more heck out of UK MeFites, because a "college" there is a secondary institution, not a post-secondary institution.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:35 PM on May 13, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry, clarity... I guess that "college" and "university" are interchangable in the US...

In Canada however, "colleges" tend to be more technical/training institutions (programs are applicable like nursing or project management) and "universities" tend to be considered a higher level (programs such as political science, math, sociology).
posted by cranberrymonger at 2:45 PM on May 13, 2009

For non-Canadian readers: a university is a prestigious degree granting institution, college is where you go when you either can't get into university or want more technical skills. Some grant degrees, most don't and they are not looked upon with the same esteem as universities.

To answer the question: Yes. While I have no experience with this specific Humber program, in other fields such as publishing (Centennial has a good program) and marketing/advertising (George Brown, Humber have good programs) this post-university college diploma work can do wonders for career advancement. I know multiple people who did their BA at a Canadian university, then a one year program (or less) at one of these colleges and gained direct employment through their internships.
posted by meerkatty at 2:49 PM on May 13, 2009

Response by poster: I'm looking for all kinds of answers from anyone who's done a more applicable/professional program after completing a Bachelors. It might help to identify your country, though, as Sidhedevil said above.
posted by cranberrymonger at 2:50 PM on May 13, 2009

Sidhedevil - In answer to: Are those post-graduate programs (also undergrad programs), when offered by a Canadian institution that identifies itself as a "college," automatically less prestigious than those offered by a Canadian institution that identifies itself as a "university"? - Yes, college in Canada is always less prestigious than University (except perhaps for the few colleges that are part of a university - like at University of Toronto - those few are more like US colleges.)

But there may be a good reason to attend a college after university. Not having a university degree (any program) can close doors for a person, but the specific training that college can provide can be a good complement to a university degree (specifically the humanities, arts etc...). Several of the students that I graduated with have taken college programs afterwards. Their employers basically treated the program as "relevant work experience". So my point is that if you can already get a job in the field that you are interested in, skip the college. But if you are finding this difficult or employers are not making the connecion between your skills and experience and the job you want. A college program can basically take the place of an entry level position.
posted by saradarlin at 3:04 PM on May 13, 2009

As an USian, I have several friends who have gotten an Associate's (2 year, vocational) degree from a community college at some point after getting a Bachelor's from a 4-year school. These basically have been a way to turn a passion for a subject discovered after undergrad into a career. In the US, people who do this are usually changing focus as well, for my friends: computer science to horticulture, special ed teacher to vet tech, environmental science to nursing, from liberal arts major and general office worker types one each to graphic design and accounting.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:10 PM on May 13, 2009

This can help, but the question is whether it is worth the money, both the cost of attending and the opportunity cost of not working while attending. There are professional courses designed for this which might be more appropriate, but I don't know about this particular area. They tend to cater to working people, be shorter in time. Regardless, the greatest value in anything like this is making contacts and getting something for your resume. Frankly, if you are going to spend this kind of time you might as well go for a masters in public administration. It will carry far more prestige. Otherwise I would stick with the shorter, resume building courses offered for working people.
posted by caddis at 7:28 PM on May 13, 2009

I have friends who went back for college certificates. I decided to take whatever work I could find and work my butt off. I moved forward in my career a lot faster than they did...while taking the occasional college course in the evening. I didn't think that the opportunity and tuition costs of pursuing a full-time certificate would be as valuable as getting work experience and augmenting it with courses and reading. In fact, my employer paid for the evening courses, sent me on conferences and mentored me, which was a lot better than the college certificate would have been. A few years later, I went back for a masters degree -- again, a program where I could continue working (in my own business) while studying. As a result, I benefited from experience, networking, mentorship, training and education, all without bearing the opportunity costs of going to school on a full-time basis.

You might be better to pursue a job -- preferably in something related to the field, but not necessarily directly so -- and to take occasional courses and read a ton and network even more. In this economy, you may find that few employers are actually willing to hire their interns, when they can just wait for the next batch of freebies from some other program. The programs you're talking to are probably citing the internship placements from two or three years ago, when the job market was hotter.
posted by acoutu at 9:02 PM on May 13, 2009

« Older What is the best way to host an ASP.NET website?   |   Using a ViBook with Mac Mini and Cintiq 12WX? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.