Are technology colleges a good way to enter the job market?
April 20, 2010 3:50 PM   Subscribe

How do the modern Canadian technology colleges rate? I need to help a friend decide which college or path would be best for her to enter the technology job market.

I am helping a friend decide whether or not colleges like Herzing or CDI in Montreal, Quebec have a good reputation, or are effective as institutions of learning. She is interested in entering the technology job market as a programmer, analyst, or web programmer, by taking one of the 16 month courses they offer.

She is not thrilled with the idea of university (McGill or Concordia) as admissions, tuition and time commitments would place her in financial straits.

Answers to the following questions will help her make a better decision.
1) Are these colleges worth the tuition? 2) Is the job placement really as advertised? 3) Do they have quality teachers? 4) Is the quality of education good? 5) Which would be the best (any anecdotal evidence would be great!)

Thank you all.
posted by chrillsicka to Education (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in BC but my feeling is that CDI and their ilk are overpriced certificate mills that exist to collect fees and churn students through.

A cert might be enough if she already has a degree or is already really good.

If she's still pretty green, I would recommend a two year diploma from an accredited technical institute or community college. She would then have the option to transfer credits to a degree program in the future. I know several guys with diplomas from BCIT and they are all doing well.
posted by sockpup at 6:07 PM on April 20, 2010

At the time I took a 1-year tech college program, the tuition fees for one year were the equivalent of two years' tuition here at the University of Manitoba. So the savings are probably not as great as you might think.

As for time commitment, the program I was in required 3 1/2 hours a day in-class; my 2nd year schedules in University (minus labs) were 3 to 4 1/2 hours a day in class.

Content-wise I definitely felt that the tech college programs weren't as well written, and didn't go into any great depth on the concepts. The difficulty that forced me into a tech college at the time was that what I wanted to learn wasn't what University CompSci was teaching. This may still be an issue today.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 8:34 PM on April 20, 2010

I'm in Saskatchewan, and I work in the IT industry. I'm going to echo sockpup's comments... the two year technical schools are much more well-respected than those private schools you mention.

I worked with a few grads from one of the schools named named in the thread (and one former instructor). The schools were quite a bit more expensive than the University or College programs, and I found my colleagues from those schools had a very superficial understanding of their specialties. I'm not sure what these schools promise for jobs, but I found the graduates of these schools tended to find their careers stalled at the entry level.

The former instructor mentioned his school closed up shop in my city because nobody would hire their grads - to be fair, he thought industry was ignorant, but the program was fine - I saw the problems.

The best route to those job titles your friend mentions are the two-year government-run technical school or community college programs (this will still require some dues paying at the entry level, and for an Analyst position a University degree is a definite plus). SIAST, SAIT, and NAIT are very good technical schools in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Not sure about other provinces.
posted by Deep Dish at 9:13 PM on April 20, 2010

How about attending part-time at a Canadian college? While get a full-time or part-time job to support herself?
posted by sanskrtam at 9:20 PM on April 20, 2010

3rding looking for a public tech college option. I don't know a single person who has ever had a kind word to say about the private for-profit tech schools, and a couple who have stated that they will never, ever hire someone who graduated from one. I'm afraid I don't know what things are like in Montreal, but I'll echo what sockpup and Deep Dish said: out west, schools like BCIT, SAIT, NAIT and SIAST have decent reputations. It would be worth digging around to see what publicly funded tech schools are well regarded in Quebec as well.
posted by threetoed at 10:22 PM on April 20, 2010

CDI and their ilk are overpriced certificate mills


At least check out a community college - they have great programs that teach skills that are immediately applicable in the "real world". You pay less tuition than at a university, and you get a higher paying job more quickly.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:24 PM on April 20, 2010

BCIT has more than a decent reputation: it kicks ass.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:25 PM on April 20, 2010

Oh please, please, do not get involved in the private vocational schools. Even DeVry is dicey.

As Deep Dish advises, stick with the public tech schools / community colleges such as the eastern counterparts of the ones mentioned. Many offer online courses; some will offer the whole program online. It means your friend can work and go to school at the same time.

Another online option is Athabasca University which offers a full 4 year degree online.
posted by angiep at 11:09 PM on April 20, 2010

Your friend should strongly consider a Computer Science diploma (DEC) from a CEGEP. CEGEPs are the equivalent of the technical and community colleges found in other provinces. They offer one to three year training programs as well as pre-university courses. The English language CEGEPs in Montreal are Dawson College (downtown near Concordia) and John Abbot in the West Island. The best part about them is that they are extremely inexpensive (a few hundred dollars a semester) for Quebec residents.
posted by Ladysin at 10:20 AM on April 21, 2010

I know people who have gone the BSc route, and people who have gone the tech college route, and they did so because they didn't want to spend the time or money for a university degree.

The people with BScs in Computer Science got jobs working with computers. None of the tech college people did.
posted by jb at 4:16 PM on April 21, 2010

I'm taking the Computer Systems Technology program at NAIT. I've heard from both teachers and employers that technical school grads are preferred by employers over university CompSci BSCs because what we do is more hands-on and so we're more capable of finding our way around once hired. Maybe this only speaks specifically to the quality differences between these two options here, though.
posted by kitcat at 6:46 PM on April 22, 2010

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