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.



As a Catholic university, Marylhurst is committed to faith-inspired values, educating leaders of competence, conscience and compassion who will work to create a more just, humane and sustainable world.



Our Values

The values of our founding Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary also support our daily work. You do not have to be Catholic, or have any religious affiliation, to be a part of the Marylhurst community. But all of us in the Marylhurst community embrace and respect the Sisters’ values as the foundation for the way we operate. Among those values most important to us are the Sisters’ calls to:

  • Offer an excellent education with a liberal arts foundation
  • Embrace an interdisciplinary approach
  • Integrate ethics into all programs
  • Respect the life and dignity of each person
  • Promote peace and social justice
  • Put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first
  • Care for the planet
  • Live your beliefs
  • We focus on adult learners
    We are a national leader in adult-focused education. Students of all ages are welcome here, not just those straight out of high school. In fact, our typical student is in her 30s, juggling school, work and family commitments. Our faculty, who all bring real-world experience to the classroom, excel at serving serious, self-motivated students who are looking for a rigorous education in an environment that both challenges and supports them.
  • We offer an array of learning opportunities
    We tailor the delivery of our degree and certificate programs to our students’ needs. That means we go beyond offering classes during the day; most of our students take at least one online class, while some study completely online. We also offer many classes in the evenings and on weekends. Our innovative Prior Learning Assessment program also gives you the opportunity to earn credit for college-level learning you have achieved through life and work experience.
  • We embed the liberal arts in all programs
    All of our academic programs are rooted in the liberal arts to make sure you leave Marylhurst with the skills and capabilities to be contributing citizens in an ever-changing world. By emphasizing global awareness, an appreciation of diversity, critical thinking and reflection, we help students gain the confidence and agility they need to achieve personal and professional goals.
    » See the difference a liberal arts education makes
  • You’ll find a sense of place and spirit of service here
    Our founders, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, picked an idyllic home for our university adjacent to the Willamette River south of Portland, Oregon. Everyone who visits our campus is struck by its beauty and peacefulness. There is a true sense of community here. The Sisters’ commitment to ethical leadership, service and social justice permeates our campus life. Even students who study online tell us the history and heritage of our campus inspire them in their studies!

Campus Life and Culture
The university hosts an array of musical, literary and other cultural events in St. Anne’s Chapel, Wiegand Lecture & Recital Hall, Flavia Salon and Clark Commons. The Lajos Balogh Performance Shell is a wonderful venue for outdoor theatrical and musical performances. The Art Gym, recipient of the 2005 Governor’s Arts Award, is a showcase for Pacific Northwest artists. More than a dozen student organizations operate on campus.

This blog written exclusively for Immigrant Times by Honor Vallor

Marylhurst University website


Fake Schools and Fake Diplomas 101

Buyer beware

While the prevalence of diploma mills (fraudulent degrees/diplomas and fake higher education institutions) grows. Along with an increase in warnings about degree fraud, and attempts to track down and stop those involved/affected whether they were willing participants or unsuspecting participants. Sometimes it may be difficult to spot the difference between programs, which look fantastic on paper with a program that isn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

Canada, and the individual provinces and territories, are pretty good at protecting consumers from fraudulent universities and colleges. However, fake degrees and diplomas granted by fake private career colleges are an equal concern in Canada as they are in the United States. Due to the fact that there is a stringent process to go through before a public university/college can receive official accreditation, you may be hard pressed to find fraudulent post-secondary institutions at this particular level. Nevertheless, consumers should still be aware of unmarketable, unrecognized programs, certificates, and individual courses.

Whether fortunately or unfortunately, compared with the United States, which has a centralized organization or body governing the education system for the entire country. In contrast, due to the British North America Act, 1867, later renamed the Constitution Act, 1982 (see Pierre E. Trudeau), each province and territory of Canada by law has the right to make its own laws with regards to education in that particular jurisdiction.

So depending on where you are currently living in Canada, or depending on where you are planning to settle upon arrival to Canada. It would be a good idea to check with the governing body of that particular province or territory.

Here is an official provincial government link to an official government website for the governing bodies – departments of education – for each province and territory in Canada.
It is important to ensure that your post-secondary school of choice is recognized or accredited by a reputable, objective, review agency or governing body. Reason being, that same agency or office is charged with setting educational, quality assurance standards for colleges and universities which fall within the parameters of their constitutional powers. For example, standards are and will be set with regards to: instructor qualifications, classroom equipment, instructional materials, etc. These are mandatory requirements and stipulations by which all private career colleges, for example, by which all private career colleges will be measured in order to be recognized, and therefore deemed accredited by the governing body to which it must answer should it not meet those same standards. Again, this depends on the provincial or territorial jurisdiction.

On the other hand, choosing a program or post-secondary institution which is not accredited by a governing educational body. Or, alternatively, choosing a program which ultimately is not recognized by the employment sector, can mean personal losses of financial resources, time resources, and a degree or diploma which is unfortunately worthless.

This article is the first of three articles put together to educate newcomers to Canada on what they should be looking for either for themselves or their loved ones, when it comes to choosing a post-secondary institution (college or university, career college). This information is not only important to those where it is their first time attending a college or university, or those who already have a formal education that is recognized by Canada. It is also important to those wishing to upgrade their skills and become more marketable. Or, alternatively, for those newcomers who are looking to gain Canadian educational credentials, or those looking to switch careers (second career).

Our second article provides readers with tips of what to look for when trying to determine whether your school of choice is legit or a simply a diploma mill.

Our third article discusses private career colleges, and online schools and programs in the same context.
While this information is extremely important to newcomers, anyone, regardless of immigration status thinking of attending or returning to school needs to consider these issues and information.