Degree or Diploma: Choosing the Best Option Suited to You

17Jan11

It is already difficult enough to decide whether or not you should go [back] to school, but even after deciding so, the question remains: University or College? There are certainly pros and cons for each institution; it just depends on the type of person you are as to whether you view it as a pro or a con.

There are fundamental differences between colleges and universities, and making sure you understand them is the key to deciding which institution to attend. It is my intention to show you some of the most notable differences between the two types of schools so that you may choose what will really best suit you.

Length/Cost of Programme

Depending on which programme you choose, you may in school for just under a year or up to 4 years. University undergraduate degrees generally take 4 years to complete, while college programmes tend to take about 2 years; however, if you would like to enter the workforce even faster, you should seriously consider a registered/accredited private career college. These colleges give you the training you need and most diplomas offered can be completed in under a year. Certainly, the faster you complete your training, the less debt you will accumulate. You need to decide which option is financially viable for you.

Faculty/Staff

It is important to ask questions about the staff employed at universities and colleges, private or public. Ensure that the faculty has the education and practical experience that you need from someone who will be teaching you. It is also important to know the difference between studying under a professor at a university and studying under an instructor at a college, since your experience will vary between the two. Professors tend to have a “hands off” approach and leave you to your own devices, while college instructors are much more hands-on. I think that John Ciardi said it best when he stated that “a university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in students”. It may sound a bit harsh, but (speaking from personal experience) it’s not too far off-base.

Workplace Preparation

Are you a thinker or a doer? A university will prepare your mind while a college prepares both your mind and your hands for the task. For example, if the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet was on a course reading list, a university would ask the questions: what is the tuffet made of? Why was Miss Muffet so frightened? What was the motive of the spider to just sit down beside her like that?

While those questions are all well and good, a college would discuss the rhyme, explain what a tuffet is, and then give you the tools to make it. And a private career college would give you the skills and abilities to have you out working in less time than any other post-secondary institution.

So, figure out what you most desire to gain from a programme, what your budget is, and go do your research!

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