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What to expect when you don’t know what to expect: Studying a Diploma in Canada

We all remember the first time the thought of studying in Canada crossed our minds. Although it may have happened at different times, we all occupied our free time reading about the requirements, saving money and imagining how it would be when we finally got here.

To wish is to hope, and to hope is to have expectations

For a lot of us, the better option was to come to study in a co-op program. We’ve all been there, going through countless school websites, looking for the one that adjusts to our needs, background and budget. It takes a lot of time, research and decision-making to finally settle for the one that better fits you and lets you achieve the ultimate goal: moving to Canada.

We had an idea in our heads, a fantasy if you will, on how it would be to live this experience. But it turns out, and we know many can relate to this, things aren’t always as we imagine them. Maybe the course doesn’t have the quality we were expecting, perhaps the school's facilities are not in good condition, or maybe everything is perfect but we don’t see ourselves working in the field we’re studying for. What do we do in that case? Do we lower our expectations or do we try to make the best out of it?

Cynicism is an unpleasant way to say the truth

You may have heard the term “diploma mill”, but in case you don’t know it, it is something people use to refer to schools that basically sell you a student visa. They pretend that they’re teaching you something, and you pretend that you’re interested in the topic you’re “studying.” This type of school usually attracts a lot of people who want the experience to live in this country without having to dedicate the same time and attention that a, uhm, regular school would demand.

Please excuse us if this sounds too cynical (that may have something to do with the author of this article), But don’t worry, this is not a guide on how to know if a school falls into this category and we aren't judging anybody either, no one’s on trial here. We all have our reasons, we all have our dreams, and sometimes it’s OK to do what it takes to achieve them. The point of all of this is that we may have discovered after a while that the course we were enrolled in wasn’t meeting our expectations.

“I would say that it was [meeting my expectations]. I could probably wish for a little more in-depth content, but since it's just a one-year course, everything is rushed. I would like a little more context, substance. I do see myself working in a career in this field, though. I think there are a lot of opportunities in the industry.“ - Says Kevin, a computer-science student from Korea.

Others, however, are not that satisfied with their courses. “I think it’s going a little slow, too much theory, and also activities that I don’t think are very useful. I feel like sometimes it is a waste of time. I mean, I have learned something, but I would have loved to learn more about practical stuff and by now already have a portfolio I can show to start applying for jobs. I don’t think a six-month program is enough or useful in any way.” - Says Dana, a business administration student from Brazil. "I think some courses have too much theory and not a lot of practice. Maybe it’s because of the nature of this field but I feel like I’d like more hands-on projects" she continues.

According to Dana, being an international student makes it difficult to get a healthy work-life balance. “I think it's not as flexible as I was expecting because the schedule doesn’t allow you to get a full-time job so I think it also gets you a little tight with your time".

It might not be what we were expecting, but it's a good starting point

We might also think that after spending time and money on this, our knowledge is still not enough, like Oscar, a web development student from Mexico. "I feel like even if I finish this course, I would need to take another one because I’ve been researching job positions and I don’t think what I learned is enough, so I think after this I would need to take an additional course.”

“I think they [the courses] are good as an introduction, but companies are asking for a lot more knowledge than what you learn here. And it seems like they’re asking for some kind of certificate so you would have to keep studying afterwards.”

In regards to our (Thrivve) team's personal experiences, we can say that at least a couple of us were pleasantly surprised when we found ourselves actually learning and enjoying the course we were taking. Our perspective changed from seeing the diploma just as a plan B, to taking it seriously, attending networking events and reading books about the topics.

The intention behind all of this is not to discourage anybody, but reading about other student’s experiences may help us prepare for this journey. At the end of the day, life is what we make out of it, and no matter how good or bad is the program of our choosing, we are capable of achieving our dream as long as we remain determined and focused on our goals.

Did your study program meet all your expectations? Join our Slack channel and tell us about your experience.

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