Selecting a Program
Private Career Colleges offer training for adults in a wide range of occupations including massage therapy, truck driving, information technology, multimedia, and business education.
Courses may be taught in the classroom, through practicums, by distance, or through a combination of the above methods.
Schools are privately owned and operated businesses.
Private career colleges in Nova Scotia are governed by the Private Career Colleges Act and must be registered with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education. The Department of Labour and Advanced Education Private Career Colleges Division can advise if a college is exempt from registration.
It is important that students inquire about the registration of a college before signing a contract with the college. To see if a college is registered, consult our full listing of registered Private Career Colleges in Nova Scotia.
As a potential consumer, it is your responsibility to make sure the program is right for you. Spend as much time and consideration choosing a college as you would a career.
Check out future job markets in your field of interest and contact potential employers. Ask what training they look for in employees. Seriously investigate and compare all colleges offering the training that interests you.
The fact that individuals have completed a training program in a college, private career college or a university does not guarantee employment. However, a good program should provide graduates with the skills required to meet the minimum employment standards of a particular occupation.
Make appointments to visit these colleges and ask for program outlines.
The following suggestions may help you spend your time and money wisely and ensure you receive the training you need to find a job once you graduate.
At the time of your visit, it is strongly recommended that you ask to see a valid registration certificate from Nova Scotia Labour and Advanced Education. Do not enroll at any private career college if it is not registered by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education unless this college is not required to register. Do not be afraid to ask the following questions below.
- What are the admission requirements?
- Will you need a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED)?
- Do you need certain skills or abilities?
- Must you have or obtain any licenses?
- Is there an admissions test or personal interview?
You will want to inquire about such things as:
- the length of the program
- what skills will be taught
- how much of the training will be classroom lectures and how much will be in practical experience
- whether the program offers on-the-job experience.
Ask for permission to view the facility. Ask about student-teacher ratios and find out whether they use equipment which is up-to-date in the industry and whether there is sufficient equipment for the number of students enrolled.
Do some comparison shopping. Colleges offering similar training usually charge similar tuition. If the cost is substantially higher, ask why. Other questions to ask:
- Are tools/books on loan or must they be purchased?
- Can you repeat subjects if required and is there a cost attached to doing so?
- Is tutoring available and is there a cost attached? If so, how much?
- What is included in the price of tuition? Ask them to specify any additional costs.
- Are student loans and other financial assistance programs available?
- Are non repayable funds like bursaries and scholarships available?
It is smart to make a checklist to compare the cost of supplies, books, uniforms, lab fees and material/kits, graduation fees, student association fees, etc. The comparison may help you to choose the college that is right for you.
You will want to know what kind of job opportunities will likely be available after graduation. Ask to see lists of employers who have hired former students. Other questions to ask include:
- What type of position and salary level can I expect upon finishing my training?
- Do you have statistics on: number of graduates; how many are working full time/part time; and, how many are working in their chosen field of study?
- What information can the College give me regarding the demand for employees in my chosen field?
- Is job placement assistance available through the College?
- What does the placement service include?
- Are job search techniques taught?
Programs may be studied by correspondence/distance education but not all are required to be registered under the Private Career Colleges Act. Only colleges located in Nova Scotia are required to be registered. If the college is located in another province, you can refer to the laws of that province to determine if the college is required to be registered.
Many colleges offer training that does not lead directly to employment (personal development, speed reading etc.). These programs are non-occupational in nature and the schools offering them are not required to be registered under the Private Career Colleges Regulation Act.
However, since schools registered under the Act may also offer programs that are not required to be registered, potential students should ensure that it is clearly specified in any contract that the program is registered, (non-registered programs are not scrutinized by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education)
Examples of programs that are not registered by the Department include the following:
- secondary school subjects or other preparatory courses that may require completion prior to acceptance into formal training for an occupation or career;
- programs that focus on personal or professional development;
- programs that are considered recreational in nature;
- programs that provide students with partial credit towards the requirements designated by certain associations or other regulatory bodies for entry into technical or professional occupations.
Please check with the Department if you are not sure if a program should be registered.
Colleges offer many types of programs in various occupational areas. These may vary widely in subject matter, course content, curricula, length and cost. Review the program outline carefully to see if it will provide you with training for entry level employment or better.
Finally, call the Better Business Bureau and ask if they have any information on the college.
Once you have applied for admission to a college and have been accepted, you should be asked to sign a contract which should contain, among other details, the following items:
- name and address of the college, and the name of the program;
- start and end dates of the program and duration, tuition refund policy;
- date the contract is entered into;
- name, mailing address and signature of the student or guardian;
- signature of a school official and the student;
- total program and material costs;
- payment schedule if paying by installments;
- a copy of the program curriculum including a list of subjects in the program of study and the duration of each subject.
- if the individual is under 18, the signature of the person who will be responsible for tuition payments must be included.
It should also contain the rules of the college. Make sure you understand the college's position on such things as dress code, maintaining a certain average and attendance. Carefully review them before you sign. Once you have signed the contract, the college should give you the original and maintain a copy for their records. Keep it in a safe place.