Post-secondary choices are complicated these days, and in a time when the economy is ultra picky of who it hires, choosing between a university education and a college or polytechnic education feels kind of like a cruel game of Russian roulette.
There is just no way to tell if you will get a job until all of the blood, sweat and tears are tapped out and you are in the real world trying.
Students of all ages can likely relate to this predicament, unless of course you are one of the lucky few who are born knowing what path you are destined to take.
Let’s pretend, if you are one of those, that you don’t know what you want to do, but you maybe just graduated high school and feel the need to do something.
Or maybe you have already had a career, a secure desk job of sorts, that made you question your existence and all of the choices you have ever made, so you need something different to carry on.
Thank goodness it is acceptable to just keep going back and trying again until you get it right—expensive, but acceptable.
Gone are the days where one degree from the local university affords you a 45-year career with fulfillment.
On the surface, a degree is typically viewed with more presidence than a diploma. Perhaps it is the longer time commitment or greater workload involved in earning a bachelor-of-anything.
Regardless of the reason, it may be more acceptable to think that, these days, a diploma is more employable.
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast facts about what the right thing to do is.
Statistics Canada produces a national grad study every year comparing the employability post college and post university.
In 2013, it was discovered that both college and university graduates were in the low 90 per cent range (90 per cent and 92 per cent respectively). PhD’s found 93 per cent employment.
Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Manitoba found the highest success with employability amongst college grads compared to the rest of the country.
Alberta specifically sees higher salaries amongst those with a Master’s level of education.
Of course, we are not even touching on which subjects these education options are lending themselves to.
Naturally, certain fields of study may be more employable than others in different parts of the country—it doesn’t take a neurosurgeon to know that marine biology in Alberta might fall short to petroleum engineering.
The key is to do your research first.
SAIT environmental technologies student, 28-year-old Amanda Zee, is coming into her diploma after having completed a bachelors in English with a minor in anthropology at the University of Calgary.
She spent a couple of years in between working a number of odd jobs, all rich learning experiences, but none directly brought to her by her degree choice.
She doesn’t regret her first accomplishments in post-secondary education, though.
“I’m glad I did my degree, because I learned a lot of things that are highly applicable to my diploma,” said Zee.
She says, while she doesn’t think it is the most direct path, she is happy with how things have turned out.
“I did a lot of growing up in university, mentally figured life out in that stage.”
To those just leaving high school and unsure of whether a technical college is more suitable than a university setting, Zee admits new graduates need to know what their goals are to make a savvy decision.
“If the goal is to get out there and start working, get a diploma from a place like SAIT to get employed.” If you are passionate about a subject, want to create your own schedule, and may be unsure of the end goal, check out the university option.
“With university, you have more time to explore.”
The connections and practical hands-on skills you get from a diploma may be worth a lot in terms of entering a market, but there are many circumstances where a degree could place you at a higher level with more chance to advance.
In some fields, you might get paid more with a degree than a diploma, you might also have higher chance to advance with a degree.
Setting all this aside, it is still important to do something that you enjoy.
Passion produces amazing results, and often times it is the journey, not the destination.
That is until you need to pay off your student loans.