Private career colleges exist all across Canada and offer an alternative to public community colleges. With job-focused programs that can be completed relatively quickly, private colleges can be an excellent option for people who want to train for a new career or advance in their existing one.
But how are they different from public colleges, and what unique advantages do they offer? Keep reading to learn more about private career colleges and how they can benefit you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What are Private Career Colleges?
- Advantages of Private Career Colleges
- Types of Students Who Attend Private Career Colleges
- Misconceptions About Private Career Colleges
- Choosing a College
WHAT ARE PRIVATE CAREER COLLEGES?
Private career colleges are post-secondary institutions that offer job-focused training in a wide range of fields, such as healthcare, business, information technology, and the skilled trades. Programs emphasize practical skills and are designed to prepare students to enter their respective industries immediately after graduation.
Unlike public community colleges, private career colleges are privately owned and do not receive any government funding. However, they are still subject to regulation and must have their programs approved by provincial or territorial governments.
There are more than 1,300 private colleges across Canada that serve upwards of 150,000 students each year.
Note: These types of schools are known as private career colleges in Ontario, but some provinces use other terms, like “private vocational institution” or “private training institution.”
ADVANTAGES OF PRIVATE CAREER COLLEGES
So are private colleges good? They do offer a host of advantages that you may not find at a public institution. Here are some of the benefits of private colleges:
Classes at private colleges tend to be smaller than those at public colleges. Fewer students per class allows for more personalized attention and makes it easier to connect with your instructor to get the guidance and support you need.
More frequent enrolment intakes
At public colleges, start times are limited to September and January. However, most private career colleges offer multiple program start dates throughout the year, so you may not have to wait very long to begin your training.
Compressed, career-focused curriculum
Programs at private career colleges offer intensive training over a shorter period of time compared to public colleges. In many cases, you can finish a program in 12 months or even less. That’s partly because private colleges don’t require students to take general education courses. Instead, the curriculum is built around relevant, practical skills you will use on the job.
Private career colleges understand that many students have work and family obligations, so they commonly offer evening, weekend, online, and hybrid learning options. That makes it easier to fit your studies into your schedule.
Private colleges typically offer extensive support to help students find work. Many programs include internships that provide hands-on training and real-world experience. You can also get help with finding suitable job openings, designing your resume, and preparing for interviews.
TYPES OF STUDENTS WHO ATTEND PRIVATE CAREER COLLEGES
Private career colleges often appeal to people who have jobs and/or families and want flexible, skills-based training that gets them ready for the workforce quickly.
“Regulated career colleges attract a diverse range of students, but a common characteristic of students who choose a career college is a desire for flexibility in their learning journey,” says Michael Sangster. He’s the CEO of the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC), which represents 450 regulated career colleges across Canada.
“Regulated career colleges also tend to attract learners who are looking for a career change or second career. Because private training programs are designed to have a highly specific focus, and get students into a career efficiently, they are a great choice for an individual looking to make a career change.”
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PRIVATE CAREER COLLEGES
Two major misconceptions about private career colleges are that they are:
It’s true that tuition is typically higher at private career colleges than at public institutions. That’s because private colleges receive no public funding and have lower student-to-instructor ratios.
However, many students qualify for financial aid that can bring costs down. And programs like Better Jobs Ontario provide funding specifically to help unemployed or underemployed people access short, job-focused training—the kind offered by private career colleges.
It’s also important to consider the opportunity cost. Because private colleges offer more compressed programs, you can finish your training and start earning money in your new career sooner.
Just because they don’t get any public money doesn’t mean they don’t have to follow any rules. Private career colleges are governed by the same provincial and territorial ministries as public colleges. They’re required to keep detailed records and are subject to government audits.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that these institutions are not regulated, but career colleges face rigorous regulation by the provinces and territories in which they operate,” says Michael Sangster of the NACC. “They are required to meet certain standards to operate and provide students with quality education, and are subject to review at regular intervals.”
CHOOSING A COLLEGE
So if you’re thinking about enrolling in a private career college, what signs of quality should you look for?
“As with any major life decision, students should be sure to do their research,” says Michael. “Ensure that the college is registered, and the program is approved by the ministry in their province or territory. Many provincial governments maintain a searchable database to easily confirm this.”
You should also check the college’s website for details on course content, instructors, and graduate employment rates. Reach out to admissions to find out about schedules, start dates, financial aid options, and how to apply.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF STUDYING AT A PRIVATE CAREER COLLEGE
Herzing College offers a wide range of career-focused programs in business, technology, design, healthcare, education, media, and the skilled trades. We offer on-campus, online, and hybrid training options, and all programs can be completed in 18 months or less (often much less).
Click below to learn more about the benefits we offer students.