Choosing to study at a community college in Alberta will have a big impact on your future! Study abroad is always exciting, but deciding where to go and what to study involves serious choices. It's important to not let this decision become overwhelming: breaking down your decision into smaller categories to help guide you can be an excellent way to keep things manageable. Make a check sheet for each community college you're interested so you can compare schools and see which one best suits your academic and personal needs.
Aspects to consider when choosing a community college in Alberta:
Credentials offered: Are you looking for a bachelor's degree, applied degree, associate's degree, diploma, certificate or university transfer? consider the length of a college's credentials, specializations and industry connections.
Programs offered: Does the college offer instruction in your area of interest? Look at the courses available, class sizes, instructor qualifications, specialized facilities, etc. If you need English or French as a second language (ESL or FSL), consider whether they offer courses in the level that meets your needs.
Articulation and transfer: Community colleges will each have different agreements with certain universities and other colleges that allow students to transfer credits. These are called articulation agreements, and you should make sure you find out about each community college's articulation agreements and credit transfer policies.
Academic and language requirements: Academic and language requirements: Consider what pre-requisite courses you need, whether you can apply directly from high school, which language tests scores they accept, etc.
Location: Consider the climate and the benefits and challenges of small towns, medium or large cities.
Size and culture: Consider the kind of learning environment that best suits your personality. Does the college offer a personal atmosphere? Or is it a big, bustling campus? A college's "culture" could mean its religious affiliation, program focus (for instance liberal arts, technology, theology, etc.) and overall reputation (i.e., whether it's known for sports, partying, academic competitions, etc.).
Cost: Compare basic living expenses, tuition fees and the cost of books and other supplies at different community colleges.
Scholarships and awards/ financial aid: Does the college offer specific scholarships, awards or loans for international students? How helpful is the college's financial aid office?
Housing options: Consider whether the college offers on-campus residence or dormitories versus off-campus apartment rental and homestay.
Quality/ accreditation: Look for accreditation at both the institutional and program levels.
Extracurricular activities: Find out about student clubs, sports, academic competitions, campus and community activities, etc.
Support for international students: Does the college have adequate resources to meet international students' needs? Ask about an international student centre, specialized tutorial services, learning centres, language support programs, buddy system, etc.
Other international students' experiences: Community college international student centres or other online resources can help you connect with international students who have been to the school and are willing to share their experience and advice.
Your gut feeling: In addition to weighing the intellectual pros and cons and costs of each college according to the categories on this list, listen to your intuition or instinct and how you feel about the various community colleges in Alberta.