College vs. University: Myths and Facts

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Image shows students in a class looking at anatomy models.

You’ve decided to attend a post-secondary institution. Congratulations! Great choice. Now the question is –university or college? Before you make that decision, you might want to rethink some common myths about these two post-secondary options.

MYTH: Colleges are only for those who want to gain an education in the skilled trades or other vocation program.
FACT: Colleges offer a wide variety of program options. While they do offer top-notch trades and vocational programming, they also offer a wide variety of university-level courses, programs, and even full degrees. College of the Rockies, for instance, offers a four-year Bachelor of Business Administration: Sustainable Business Practices degree, two-year Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Science – Environmental Science degrees, and many other diplomas and certificates.

MYTH: The quality of education you receive at a college is inferior to what you receive at a university.
FACT: You receive a comparable education whether you attend a college or a university. Your college instructor will have a minimum of a Master degree in the subject matter, and many will have PhDs. Most university level courses at colleges transfer directly into university degree programs, which speaks to the equality of the education received. And at College of the Rockies, you can apply for dual admission and be a student at both the College and either University of Lethbridge or University of Victoria at the same time, an option that comes with its own set of perks.

What you might not think of, however, is the other gains that come with attending a college. Rather than lecture halls filled with hundreds of students, most college classrooms are significantly smaller. That means you get actual individual attention from your instructor. You also get more access to lab time and are more likely to make friendships with your classmates. The advantages of a small college are likely why the most recent British Columbia Council on Admission and Transfer (BCCAT) report found that College of the Rockies students who transferred to a university to complete their degree did better than students who went directly to university. In fact, our students graduated with a higher grade point average and completed their degree at a higher rate than transfer students from any other institution.

MYTH: There is no point in starting my education at a college just to transfer two years later to university to finish my degree.
FACT: Hopefully some of the points above help you to see the benefits of starting your post-secondary education at a college before transferring on to a university. But don’t just take our word for it. Some of our alumni had this to say about their time at College of the Rockies:

For anyone on the fence about attending the College, I would highly advise it, especially the University Arts & Science program. I am so happy I decided to go there and that I was able to get to know my instructors as people. I believe the relationships I built with them allowed me to make connections with my professors at a larger institution like Dalhousie as well.” – Collette Robertson, research assistant, Dalhousie University

The College’s program was a good test to see if kinesiology and physical therapy were the route I wanted to go. It was there that I grew to know for sure that this was the field for me.” – Andrea Gris, owner/operator Return to Health Physiotherapy.

“Attending the College for the first couple of years of my education made me a more confident learner. The smaller class sizes and more intimate setting allowed me to discover more about myself and my style of learning before attending a much larger institution.” – Kendall Plant, qPCR technician, BC Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences.

And though the educational benefits are significant, we can’t overlook the financial advantages of a college. Tuition savings alone can be in the thousands. If you attend a more rural institution like College of the Rockies your cost-of-living expenses are also drastically reduced – even more so if you live here already and can remain at home.

Local Internal Medicine Specialist, Lori Wik, chose to start her education at the College to save money and take advantage of her local support system. “I chose the College because of geography, social supports that I had already established, and because of cost. I absolutely saved money in the years I was at the College, not just with tuition but for living as well.”

MYTH: My education won’t be looked upon favourably in the workforce if I attend a college.
FACT: More and more employers are realizing the high quality employment prospects that come from colleges across Canada. However, if graduating from a specific university is your goal, starting your education at a college and then transferring to that university will lead you on the path to earning a degree at that university – and it just might increases your chances of success while you’re there.

Physicians, veterinarians, chiropractors, business owners, physiotherapists, marine biologists, teachers, and so many others have started their post-secondary journey at College of the Rockies. We hope you will too.