College or university?


“College or university?” That was the question I heard from family members and friends almost everyday during grade 11.

To some, college may seem like the easiest way to find an almost brainless hands-on job.

To others, university may only be for the wealthy who are rewarded a $50,000 receipt at the end of their four-year journey.

As someone who has spent time in both, I can tell you college isn’t easy, nor is university only for rich students.

Whenever friends or family ask me, “what’s better, university or college?”

I always tell them, “Neither. They’re just not the same.”

At the beginning of grade 12, I decided I wanted to go to university, but I also really didn’t want to.

I tried to look into psychology programs at universities across Ontario, but I realized later that psychology wasn’t my passion.

Instead of running a victory lap in high school, my mom recommend I take a year-long certificate program at Sheridan College, just a 10 minute drive from my house.

I took Media Fundamentals, a program that offered classes for students who wanted to pursue a career in film, journalism or digital media. Although I breezed through my homework and all I did in class was hang out with the stoners, it opened my eyes to new ways of learning.

Finally, I was able to gain skills in photography and videography. Although it sounds easy, I had to put in hard work and late hours just to get the perfect shot of a staircase.

I still know a few students in Sheridan’s media arts degree and I’ve never seen people work so hard doing what they love.

When I was in high school no one on the honour roll even considered college as an option.

College was for the kids smoking in the parking lot or for those who knew they couldn’t handle the “university lifestyle.”

I will admit to seeing a lot of those types at Sheridan, but I later realized these students didn’t want the university lifestyle.

They knew they wouldn’t get anything out of university; college is for learning hands-on and their passion lied in these classrooms and teachers.

The same goes for students in university.

Again, I always see people working tirelessly to get an assignment done. These students wouldn’t be able to handle college either and not because it’s too easy — it’s just not the way they want to learn new things.

As for me, I decided to go to university because I realized what I wanted to do while going into Wilfrid Laurier University’s communication studies program.

My first year at Laurier can’t even compare to my time at Sheridan, but I met a lot of new people with the same passion as mine.

I knew if I had stayed in college I wouldn’t acquire the same skills I have today, but I’m always grateful I did get an experience of both institutions.

Presently, I have a love/hate relationship with the university lifestyle. Sure, it’s fantastic living in another town, but for me, sitting in a class while the time drags on isn’t the best way to learn.

I’ve had some great professors at this school and I’ve had some I didn’t agree with.

At times I do miss the classes and the people at Sheridan, but I’m also happy university gave me the courage to talk to people and learn new things.

I don’t believe the rumors that college is only for students who can’t handle the university lifestyle, or that university is only for those who come from wealthier families.

If you know what your passion is or you’re confused as to which direction you should take, I definitely recommend going to both university and college campus tours, even if you’re already enrolled in one.

Talk to people, sit in on a class and get an idea of how you learn best.  Don’t let other people influence your decision.

Would you rather sit and listen to a lecture or get out in the field and work hands-on?

Remember, university isn’t for everyone, but neither is college.

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Serving the Waterloo campus, The Cord seeks to provide students with relevant, up to date stories. We’re always interested in having more volunteer writers, photographers and graphic designers.