Private Career Colleges and Online Universities

Buyer beware

Often, individuals want to return to school, to upgrade their skill sets, obtain a post-secondary education. Or, perhaps gain skills to start fresh and begin a new career. However, with our busy schedules and obligations, we may not be able to commit to a full-time or lengthy program for time and/or financial reasons. As a result, some of us may opt to attend a private career college or online college/university to upgrade our skills. Private Career College is also great option for new and potential immigrants.



The following sources – for the province of Ontario – will give you an idea of what to look for to determine if your school of choice is recognized/accredited, with provincial and territorial educational lending agencies, and by extension the Government of Canada.

Discovering Private Career Colleges in Ontario. According to an official Ontario government website, private career colleges are often appealing to prospective students because they provide specific and practical skills often required by employers when entering the workforce and applying for jobs. Alternatively, they can also be appealing to prospective students who’ve been to traditional schools, with a perhaps, higher emphasis on theoretical knowledge than practical knowledge. These students in particular, are often looking to upgrade their skills, and become more marketable in an increasingly competitive market.

Types of Programs offered.

  • Business
  • Health Services
  • Human Resources
  • Arts (Applied)
  • Information Technology
  • Skilled Trades
  • Social and Community Services
  • Law (Administration / Para-legal)
  • Office Administration


Benefits to Attending a Private Career College. The major selling point appears to be the flexibility this option can provide. One doesn’t have to drop everything – life, career, personal life – and go back to school. There is flexibility to continue to work, maintain life and family responsibilities and still receive that desired education.

  • Fast-tracked / accelerated course or programs (diploma)
  • Several program intakes throughout the year

However, private career colleges are often significantly more expensive than programs at public/community colleges. Often, credits can only be transferred, if possible, internally, and may not be recognized/transferrable to programs at other colleges or universities.

Before you sign on the dotted line and make a commitment, check out private career college options first.  Choose the option (course load, school and program), which is best for you and your needs.

You will also be able to determine whether your college of choice is registered with – in this case – the Ministry of Education (Ontario). The college’s location, program information, program fees, and their ‘good standing’ status with the office/governing body in charge of overseeing private career colleges.


Discovering Online Universities. Same thing goes for online universities. Want to know if they are recognized? Follow the tips provided in this and the two previous articles. You can also check with the educational lending institution in a particular province or territory.

Here is link to determine if your school of choice would be approved for provincial funding (OSAP – Ontario Student Assistance Program), regardless of whether you are paying for your education out of your own pocket, or through other loans (private ones perhaps). The rule of thumb should be, among other things, (in the case of Ontario) that if OSAP will not lend anyone money to attend the school perhaps because it isn’t on a list of approved schools. Then, perhaps, you should reassess your options.

You may also want to seek out the Better Business Bureau (an easy internet search) to see if any complaints have ever been either issued against or suits launched against the school or organization – in the case of both private career colleges and online universities.

Additionally, it might be useful to reach out to students who’ve graduated from the same school or program you are looking to attend or acquire, respectively. This is important because you may be able to acquire an unbiased, more objective opinion/impression of what you’d be signing up for. As well as what to expect, overall, from the program, and the marketability of the credentials (i.e. degree, diploma, certificate, license) received upon completion by hiring managers, recruiters, and employers alike.

A great website which you can use to help you determine the outlook for a specific job (job titles) and industries by town/city in each Canadian province and territory, can be found at this federal government website.



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