7 signs a polytechnic is the right fit for you

New life journeys start with new life lessons. That goes for recent high-school graduates getting ready for post-secondary education as well as college and university students who want to put the theories they’ve learned into practice. It also holds true for professionals seeking to further their careers, or in some cases, change them. And it’s critical for those who are between jobs, and want a chance to open new doors.

If you relate to any of these situations, or if any of the following thoughts have occurred to you as you contemplate your future, then a polytechnic institute like BCIT could be a great choice for you.

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1. You’re excited about the concept of “learning by doing”

College and university might be on the most typical path to future employment—but they’re not for everyone. Some people prefer hands-on education, and may have spent much of high school feeling frustrated by the conventional classroom environment. Others might be thinking about careers in trades and applied sciences that you can’t get a traditional degree in. 

In some ways, polytechnics and universities have lots in common. Both have highly skilled faculty who are experts in their fields, and programs that award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. But polytechnic institutes specialize in applied and experiential learning, where academic coursework is complemented by training, and instructors are industry veterans with experience, connections, and professional practices that extend far beyond the classroom.

2. You enjoy learning in small classroom environments with student cohorts

On a related note, there are plenty of people who are concerned that they may not like the impersonal style of many college and university programs. Classmates and instructors differ from one course to the next, and until you reach the upper levels of your undergraduate program, there are few opportunities for focused, interactive, one-on-one learning.

Polytechnic institutes aren’t like this. The majority of programs follow a cohort model where the same small group of peers goes through all courses together. This not only allows for cohesion and community with your classmates, but also simulates what it will be like collaborating with colleagues in the workforce—which many students and instructors become.

3. You want to learn at your own pace

It’s not uncommon for individuals to feel daunted by the time required to gain a typical degree, which is often a minimum of four years. This can create obstacles for high-school graduates who want to join the workforce quickly, as well as full-time workers who need to earn credentials to advance their careers. 

Attending a polytechnic provides a good alternative. Programs are more flexible, and some can be completed in a matter of months. There are also microcredentials, where a single course can grant you the credentials you need to move to a new specialty or discipline. 

4. You’re interested in keeping your options open

You may not know what you want to do in the future, and that’s just fine. What matters is that you have options. Lots of students start out at college, university, or another post-secondary institution unsure of what they want to study. At a polytechnic school, you have work-integrated learning opportunities as well as efficient certificate programs, intensive diploma programs, or comprehensive degree programs to choose from, so that you can get the practical expertise you need in a timeframe that makes sense. You also enjoy a much more streamlined transition from education to employment.

5. You’d like to work part-time while attending school

For many people, maintaining a job while studying is essential. Aside from everyday expenses, many students are caring for dependents, or paying off past college or university debts.

Along with certificate, diploma, and degree programs of varying lengths, polytechnic institutes like BCIT offer a wide selection of programs that are available on evenings and weekends, or that follow a virtual or blended education model. Many programs also have both part-time and full-time options, empowering learners to take courses at their own pace. Then there are opportunities for work to become a part of school, with courses that offer co-op semesters or lay the foundation for apprenticeships.

6. You want to build industry connections and gain work experience before graduation

If you find yourself worrying about whether or not your post-secondary education will lead to a job, then it’s another sign you should attend a polytechnic. Getting graduates connected with potential employers is a top priority for these schools. Just like at universities and colleges, polytechnics host a range of student organizations, clubs, and extracurricular activities—but theirs are focused on networking directly with industry, and benefit from the relationships that already exist between the school, the faculty, and the business community.

At BCIT, over 700 industry leaders participate on Program Advisory Committees, providing input for all curricula. Many of these curricula include internships, co-op placements, capstone projects, or consulting projects that bring students into the workplace long before they graduate. 

7. You have some ideas for your future career, but now you need the skills

Whether you’re a professional looking to pivot into the career you’ve always wanted, or a high-school graduate with big dreams and clear goals, it’s possible you know exactly what you want out of your post-secondary education. If that’s the case, it’s best for you to get straight to work, specializing your skill set, boosting your resumé, and building the assets that will differentiate you from other job seekers in your field.

SEE MORE: BCIT Pandemic-Resilient Jobs Report identifies most in-demand jobs for 2021 and beyond

As mentioned before, all of that can be done at BCIT—through work-integrated learning such as co-op education, field experience, and internships; through microcredentials that let you personalize and modularize your studies; or through a wide selection of certificate, degree, and diploma programs. There’s no shortage of options, so talk to an advisor or attend an info session to find the one that’s best for you.

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