Applying to Career Colleges in Canada

There are almost as many career college programs in Canada as there are student interests. This variety of options means a variety of application requirements, since career colleges are generally private, independent institutions. Some have limited-enrolment programs with competitive admission, others offer open admission on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, minimum entrance requirements can vary greatly depending on the school and the program.

Admission requirements for career colleges in Canada typically include a Grade 12 Secondary School Diploma or its equivalent. Some vocational programs have additional course pre-requisites, and others may require a lower grade of educational completion (Grade 8 or 10, for example). Additional potential requirements include reference letters, current résumé, criminal record check, CPR certification, health and immunization record, proof of English proficiency, personal essay or letter of intent. You may be asked to participate in an interview or meet with an admissions counsellor, and Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) may be recognized by some schools. At some career colleges, an aptitude test or questionnaire may be requested, and media schools or programs may request an audition or demo. None of these are random requirements: career colleges are focused on student success and therefore tailor their admission criteria to ensure that they admit the best candidates who are well-suited to the programs.

Because the programs are so different--from health to hospitality, hydraulics to hairstyling--program duration and start dates also vary. Some career colleges offer continuous enrolment with programs starting every month, week or even every day; others operate on a more traditional semester system with a fall and/ or winter intake. Many career colleges therefore have no cut-off dates for admission and instead process applications all year round. Others have specific deadlines after which applications are no longer considered. Career colleges with internal scholarships and bursaries may encourage early application in order to qualify for these awards and financial assistance.

The career college applications themselves generally consist of a downloaded form or a form completed and submitted electronically on the school's website. The application also usually includes a non-refundable application fee of anywhere between $25-$100, as specified by the institution. School transcripts can be asked for in two ways: you may be asked for official transcripts from your high school to be sent directly to the college, or you may simply be allowed to provide a photocopy.

Because private career colleges are just that--private--they are run like a business and should be approached as though you are buying a product. This means: find out about tuition costs, equipment/ facilities, refund policy (should you decide not to complete the program) and reputation. It always pays to comparison shop!

All students considering applying to a career college should check out the specific school website, or contact the school's Admissions or Registrar's Office, for all the details on application and admission. But don't just take their word for how great they are: remember to shop around and compare schools' information before you apply. After all, career college leads to your career, your future!