Preparing for community college in Canada involves both academic and personal preparation.
International students applying directly from high school to a community college in Canada should begin planning early, since community colleges in Canada--or particular programs within a college--can be competitive.
Academic preparation means making sure you have the necessary courses and grades to be accepted into the community college you want. This will largely depend on the program you hope to apply to. For instance, if you are considering a science or technology-based program versus a more general program. Communication skills are important in any field, and English and math are the most-often required courses for admission into community colleges in Canada. Some community colleges also have a minimum cut-off average for general admission (usually between 60-70%). Quota or other limited-enrolment and highly competitive programs may require a higher average and more specific course requirements.
Community colleges in Canada usually require international students to demonstrate proficiency in the language of instruction (either English or French), if it is not their first/native language. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is commonly accepted, but Canadian colleges may have their own tests or evaluation procedures, or may accept other English tests, such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) or the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Assessment. Confirm language requirement details with the college before you apply. Those interested in studying at a French-language institution should note that there is no standardized French-language test; French colleges generally determine the level of a student's French skills on a case-by-case basis and may administer their own tests.
Community college websites, online student handbooks or admissions offices are the best sources of academic preparation information. Be sure to read up on specific application requirements (reports and transcripts, document translation requirements, letters of recommendation, personal essays, portfolio, etc). Preparing for community college in Canada also means getting your paperwork completed and organized (read more in our How to Apply and Student Visas sections).
Personal: In addition to academic preparation, there's a lot you can do in your home country to prepare personally.
Get more familiar with the language of instruction, whether English or French: read English- or French-language books, magazines or newspapers (either print or online); watch English or French TV or films; practice your conversation with any English- or French-speaking friends you may know. To improve the vocabulary and comprehension skills for your program, do some reading in the area you hope to study in the language you will be studying in Canada.
Community college admissions committees are often interested in an international student's personal qualities, which can be developed through extracurricular activities. Consider joining or even starting high school clubs, whether related to your area of interest or not: this is a good way to demonstrate leadership skills. Be able to show success within and outside the classroom.
Prove your work ethic. College study in Canada is rigorous; therefore, work experience -- paid or volunteer -- is an achievement regarded highly by admissions committees. Any work experience related to your chosen field is extremely beneficial.
Contact other international students already studying at the college. Many Canadian community colleges have international student offices and/ or groups that can put you in touch with an international student who can share his or her experience and advice on what to expect and how best to prepare.
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