Dear Barb—College Conundrum

Dear Barb:

I am in my second year of university and really hating the courses I’m in.  My marks have been good, and my parents are happy that I’m doing so well.  Every time I see them they talk about how proud they are of me and what a great future I will have.  I just put on a happy face and agree with them, but I don’t know how much longer I can continue this.  I want to switch to a college level program, but I know they will freak! They don’t believe a college education is equivalent to a university degree.  I don’t agree with them.  I know quite a few people who have graduated from college and are happy and successful in their careers.  When I try to discuss it with them they shrug me off and change the subject.  They are paying for my education, so I feel obligated to do what they want, rather than what I want.  I just don’t know what to do.  If I tell them I want to go to college they probably won’t pay my tuition.  I really need some advice! Thanks, Brody.

Hi Brody:

Great question! I am going to include some information on both university and college and my suggestion is to show this information to your parents as a way of opening up a conversation with them.  Whether you choose to go to college or university has to be your decision.  It’s your life and you have to live your life doing something you want to do, not something that will make your parents happy.  You don’t mention if your parents are university graduates, if so they may be biased and believe a university degree is the way to go, which isn’t always the case.  As you will see from the info below earning a college degree, with hands on teaching is very valuable.

Colleges of applied arts and technology have full-time and part-time diploma and certificate programs.  Many also offer Bachelor degrees in applied areas of study.

Colleges tend to be more directly career-oriented than universities.  This means they offer practical or hands-on training.  Generally, a certificate program is 1 year or less, and a diploma program is 2 or 3 years.

Colleges also have pre-trades and apprenticeship training, language training and skills upgrading.

Universities are institutions that can grant degrees.  All universities have undergraduate (bachelor’s) degrees, and many have graduate (Master’s and doctoral) programs.  Universities in Ontario are independent.  Although they receive funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, each institution is self-governing and regulates its own programs, admissions and faculty.

According to Study Magazine there are three persistent myths that have been debunked with regard to college vs.  university:

  • Myth #1: People only go to college because they can’t get into university
  • Myth #2: I’ll get a better job and make more money if I go to university
  • Myth #3: The quality of education at a university is better than college

My suggestion would be to check out the above website and print the three myths and discuss them with your parents.  Most parents want their children to be happy and ultimately will support their decision.  Good Luck Brody.

Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.