More university graduates see college as a means to an end

In a changing economy, many employers are opting for more years of work experience and graduating students are nervously considering further education. During the course of an undergraduate degree, many students have racked up an astounding amount of debt, and there is often little time or opportunity to gain valuable work experience in their chosen fields while attending university full time.

As job hunts change, so do educational choices. College fast-track courses are forcing a large number of students to re-evaluate their educational goals. An article by Queen’s University notes that the Ontario College Application System (OCAS) recorded three per cent of college applicants as already having some sort of degree in 2006, and this number apparently doubled by 2010. University offers critical thinking skills, but students are evidently concerned about practical education and job prospects.

“College appealed to me because it offered practical education as opposed to the theoretical learning university offers,” said Alison MacKinnon, a U of T graduate who majored in sociology, double-minoring in English and geography. She recently earned a degree in strategic relationship marketing at George Brown College. MacKinnon immediately notes the perks of completing college, and her ultimate goal: “I was able to complete an internship during school…it definitely did create better job prospects for me, as I had a job in my field straight out. I actually graduated on a Friday and started full time on the Monday after.”

Jesmarnin Lafuente, on the other hand, did not complete his university degree and left for Durham College to study journalism. “Tuition was not affordable in my case. Although I chose university first, the ‘hands-on’ approach [college offers] really does suit my type of learning,” said Lafuente. It’s clear that a college education provides different assistance for students with respect to work placement opportunities, but universities are not without similar resources.

The Career Centre at the U of T St George campus is located in the Koffler Student Services Centre; it is in charge of assisting students with their career goals. “Students and recent graduates up to two years post-graduation are able to make an appointment with a career educator,” said Lynne Brownlie, associate director of the Centre, in an email. “During a brief ‘Get Started’ appointment, students are connected to information, programs and services that address their immediate career need.”

Brownlie uses the term “graduate and professional programs” to refer to both college and Master’s/PhD programs. She suggests that in order to discern proper fit, students should do some serious thinking about the career they want to pursue, and determine if further education is indeed required. “Many graduates use their U of T degree as a stepping stone to new and innovative careers that are related to their interests, skills, values and experience,” Brownlie remarks.

Lafuente agrees: “How you apply [skills] after school ultimately decides if you get a job or not. If you have talent, use it and give your achievements to the world.”


Stay up to date. Sign up for our weekly newsletter, sent straight to your inbox:

* indicates required