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4 Tips To Help You Choose Your College Program (and Future Career Path)

So you’ve decided you want to continue (or further) your education with post-secondary learning - congratulations!

Now what? Well, before you can begin your exciting academic journey, the first step is to pick a program. With all the available options out there today, the decision can quickly become overwhelming.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right college program for you:

1. Consider your options

There’s no doubt about it, choosing the program that you may spend a number of years studying is an important decision! If you’re not completely sure on your end goal, the path may be harder to choose. There are often many factors to consider while you’re deciding which program is going to be right for you.

Ask yourself these questions to start:

  • Do you have a dream or passion that you wish you could turn into a day job?
  • What sort of lifestyle do you picture? 9-5 or freelance? In a corporate office or somewhere less traditional?
  • Which school subjects did you excel in?
  • Is there a program that will allow you to strengthen your current skills and interests? Or further your current career path, if you’re stagnant in your current position?
  • Once you answer these questions, you’ll likely have a better idea of what direction you’re headed in.

    2. Still not sure? Reach out for help!

    If you still haven’t settled on a career path, or are overwhelmed by the options, there are people waiting to help! Visit a local career center or meet with a guidance counsellor at a career college to learn about jobs that would fit your natural abilities.

    Prior to attending your meeting, try to narrow your professional goals to a specific line of work. Take this quiz from the Government of Canada, and maybe a few others from trusted sources. Career quizzes are designed to help you get a better idea of the type of jobs that you should be seeking work in based on skills, personality, and work values.

    There’s also the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Personality Test, a survey that can help you determine suitable career paths by looking at your preferences when it comes to social interaction, information processing, decision-making and perception.

3. Shop Around

Now that you have a better idea of what direction you’re headed, it’s time to start looking at different programs and schools.

Resist the urge to choose a school simply because it’s got a fancy name or reputation. You shouldn’t ever feel like you need to attend a certain school simply because it’ll look great on your resume. Shop around, and consider lower-cost alternatives like community colleges or shorter certificate programs if the education will still align you with your future career path. If you’re learning a trade or you require more hands-on experience in order to learn, a career college could be the perfect option for you.

Some things to consider when determining the best school for you:

  • How long is the program and what is the outcome? Will you graduate with a certificate, diploma, or degree? Does it align with what’s needed for your career?
  • Are the classes in the program relevant to your career goals?
  • Consider work experience (work term, co-op, or internship) as an added bonus prior to completing your selected program.
  • Is the program’s price within my budget? Does the school offer scholarships or tuition assistance? What’s the potential long-term return on investment of this program?
  • Take a school tour and be sure to talk with a student representative! This will give you a better understanding of the atmosphere and if it’s the right fit for you.

    4. Think for yourself, and take your time deciding

    Choosing the right college program is a big decision! Arriving at a final decision can be incredibly overwhelming, confusing, or unclear at times. It’s not uncommon to talk it over with family, friends, or trusted colleagues (or mentors). The insight and extra perspectives can often be helpful.

    At the end of the day, only you know what’s best for you. Don’t allow yourself to get swept up in anyone else’s idea of what your life should look like. When it comes to your lifelong career, don’t be afraid to follow your heart!

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