“University is better than College – Myth or Fact?”

University is better than College

“University is better than College.” Most students, especially African students, have heard that phrase being used at one time or another. Maybe it was a piece of advice from parents… or a comment made by peers. We have all heard it before, and many of us believed it.

Some of the most strongly held views (among African immigrants) regarding post-secondary education are in fact, misconceptions. Most fall in one of these three categories:

  • University is superior to college, and both are superior to the trades and apprenticeship programs.
  • University graduates get better jobs
  • Students with high marks in high school should go to university.

So the big question remains, is this myth or fact?

Fortunately, the notion that a University education is always superior to a College education is only a myth. In actuality, many careers favour the more hands-on approach provided by College diplomas, with certain employers preferring to hire College graduates over their University counterparts. Similarly, some professions favour the theory-based approach provided by a University degree, with employers preferring to hire University graduates.

It simply depends on what area you want to go into, what skills are required to perform the job, and which institution will best equip you with those skills. Regardless of what you hear, that is the bottom line.

According to a recent Report from Provincial and Territorial Labour Market Ministers, there is an increasing need for skilled workers in today’s labour market. There are many unemployed graduates struggling to get professional work experience in their field, and ultimately, employers want to hire themost skilled person for the job. To employers, being skilled enough to do the work outweighs the mere possession of a University degree.

The focus should be on developing your strengths to become the most skilled person applying for the job you want. Depending on your chosen career path, this could mean pursuing an apprenticeship, going to College, going to University, or getting on-the-job training. Again, it depends on your area of interest.

Back in ‘our parent’s days,’ people thought that a university education was superior to anything else. If you had a university degree, you could almost guarantee your success and happiness. However, in today’s labour market, there is more to achieving career success than merely attaining a degree. Today, every Tom, Dick or Harry has a University degree, and setting yourself apart from other job seekers (with your skills and experience) is the only guarantee to employment. A person’s skills are often considered more important than a piece of paper that has been achieved.

In fact, a growing number of University graduates are now pursuing college diplomas or certificates in order to enhance their degrees, become more skilled workers, and become more competitive in the eyes of employers. As revealed in a recent Globe and Mail article, the last 5 years has seen a 40% increase in the number of University graduates going to college – that says a lot. Clearly there is a need for job-focused training after graduation.

In conclusion, University is not superior to College or Apprenticeships in any way. University may give you skills in research, creative thinking, and specific knowledge, i.e.: in Physics. If those skills will prepare you for work that you will enjoy, then university may be the right choice for you. If college offers a more suited program, then go to college.

Case in point: a self-employed electrical contractor can earn $70,000 – $80,000 per year having gone through a 4-year Apprenticeship program and no University education. An entry-level Accountant will earn anywhere from $35,000 – $45,000 depending on company size. Choose the option that will make you the most skilled worker in your field.

For more info, or to refer a high school/collage/university student for further career exploration, visit www.careerexplorationclub.com for more information and consultation

By Valerie Kaye, Career Coach at The Career Exploration Club


Statistics Canada


Harp, Roger, (1944) “The Education Planner” 6th Edition. University of Toronto Guidance Center.

Building Skills Together: A Report from Provincial and Territorial Labour Market Ministers

Marjo Johne, November 12, 2013, “University grads see college diploma as key to jobs”, Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/university-grads-see-college-diploma-as-key-to-jobs/article15375257/

Canada’s Top 50 careers: http://www.canadianbusiness.com/companies-and-industries/top-10-best-jobs-in-canada/?gallery_page=7#gallery_top

Various Job Profiles – Ministry of Training Colleges & Universities database