Charting Academic Waters: The difference between BCIT and traditional university

This blog was written by Student Social Media Contributor Lucas Pincell, a second-year Communication Design Essentials student. Lucas shares his experiences with attending university and the differences he noticed when beginning his education at BCIT.

As 2021 rolls in, “formal education” has a whole new face to me. Classrooms took the form of video conferences, raising hands to speak was replaced by the new-found ability of figuring out when people are finished speaking and connection quality became students’ and teachers’ worst enemy.

Regardless, I’m here today to discuss a more specific topic: the differences between college, university, and BCIT. Even though I come from Brazil where we don’t have “colleges” specifically, we do have “technical” schools and institutes that basically function the same way as colleges. I did attend a university there, so I have some idea of how it feels having navigated these differing academic waters.

First off, the pacing of the programs. My personal preference is for places like BCIT where they offer shorter, more straight-forward programs with very specific outlines and desired outcomes. Conversely, since universities offer a broader range of academic possibilities, from undergraduate to PhD programs, it always seemed like courses were very long, giving students ample time to stir and simmer all the information they got in class. Thinking back on my university days, it always felt like I had more thought-heavy work to do, rather than hands-on activities to complete.

When it comes to the “vibe” of studying in these different environments, I feel a big difference between university and BCIT. Something I disliked about my university experience was the amount of ego it sheltered and stimulated. Going through my Advertisement Bachelor’s Degree, I often felt like there was a gap between me, my colleagues and professors. In contrast, my Communication Design Essentials program usually feels more comfortable in that regard. Instructors are more accessible and my colleagues come from all walks of life. This definitely helps to create a safer learning environment, specifically in crazy times like these.

Finally, I see the expectations that BCIT invites as more “grounded” than the ones a university does. The broadness of university always felt very limiting and daunting to me. What intrigues me about BCIT programs is that, regardless of what we choose to do with that knowledge, it will always somehow be useful and translate into the workplace.

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