Choosing to study at a community college in Canada is an exciting decision! Travel and study abroad are always enriching, but choosing where to go and what to study can be daunting. There are lots of great community colleges to choose from across Canada, but it's important that you don't let this decision become overwhelming. Break down your decision into smaller categories to help guide you; making a check sheet for each community college you're interested in can be a good way to compare schools so you can see which one best suits your academic and personal needs.
Aspects to consider when choosing a Canadian community college or CEGEP:
Credentials offered: Consider bachelor's degree, applied degree, associate's degree, diploma, certificate or university transfer; consider duration, specializations and industry connections.
Programs offered: Does the college offer a program in the area that interests you? Consider the courses available, class size, instructor qualifications and credentials, specialized facilities, etc. Community colleges often offer English or French as a second language (ESL or FSL) programs: do they have the level that meets your needs?
Articulation and transfer: Community colleges usually allow students to transfer their community college credits toward a university degree. These are called articulation agreements, and each community college will have different agreements with different universities. Make sure you know how your community college credits will transfer to other colleges and universities.
Academic and language requirements: Consider what courses are required, 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 sized cities, and large metropolises.
Size and culture: Consider what learning environment best suits your personality: a more personal atmosphere or a large, bustling campus. In terms of a college's "culture," you might consider a school's religious affiliation and program focus (for instance liberal arts, technology, theology, etc.).
Cost: Consider basic living expenses, tuition fees and the cost of books and other supplies.
Scholarships and awards/ financial aid: Are there specific scholarships, awards or loans for international students that you qualify for? How helpful is the college's financial aid office?
Housing options: Consider on-campus residence or dormitories, off-campus apartment rental and homestay.
Quality/ accreditation: Look for accreditation at both the institutional and program levels.
Extracurricular activities: Consider student clubs, sports, competitions, campus and community activities, etc.
Support for international students: Look for an international student centre, specialized tutorial services or 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 can share their experience and advice.
Your gut feeling: In addition to weighing the intellectual pros and cons and costs of each college, listen to your intuition or instinct and how you feel about a school.