In 2021, I decided to go back to school. Unbelievably, its already ended, and I want to share my experience studying as an international student in Canada. As of last month, I am no longer a student. Over the previous eight months, I’ve been engrossed in at least seven courses per semester in a very hands-on program. There were lots of late nights and early mornings spent around the computer all day long; and more group work than I ever hope to encounter all at once.
That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the program and found it to be an incredible addition of skills to my career. I was quite anxious about going back to school but felt it was the best way to resume/start a career in the corporate world and a new country after a few years as a stay-at-home mom. When I saw the schedule, I was shocked. I was unconsciously expecting about five courses each term, not seven.
Where Did I Go?
I went to Seneca College and took the Public Relations – Corporate Communications graduate certificate at the Seneca@York campus. The program is eight months (12 months with the WIL option) full-time and offered in September and January enrollments. When I started, classes were still online due to the pandemic. Additionally, the Canadian government allowed international students to study online for a while and maintain qualifications for a post-graduate work permit once they’ve completed the program. I took advantage of that allowance, completing almost all of the first semester in Jamaica to spend a longer time with my family while saving on expenses.
The fact that studies remained online throughout my studies also allowed me to get accommodations more reasonably priced. Toronto is expensive! So I stayed close enough that I could travel daily if I needed to without burning a giant hole (or rather a bigger one) in my pocket for rent.
Seneca College as an International Student in Canada
As an institution, I found Seneca to be worthy of recommendation. Their communication was timely, and apart from a snafu once or twice, they made contact with them easy and efficient. When I applied, I was accepted within eight days, far earlier than the college I applied to first (As of this post, they pretty much ate my $90 application fee and ghosted me).
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The tuition for the program is par-for-the-course, which is similar to others in Toronto, such as Humber. It included full access to the Microsoft Office suite, Adobe suite, Zoom License, and a wide range of student support services that I had never used myself. It also included a variety of auxiliary services and health insurance coverage as an alternative since international students in Canada are not covered by the provincial health insurance plan, OHIP.
While I had no reason to go there myself, the campus looks very modern and is located on the York University campus.
The Program, Public Relations – Corporate Communications
It was awesome! The professors are practicing professionals and teach from a real-world perspective. They have a passion for the subject matter and you can tell they genuinely love teaching it. PR is a fast-paced reality, and so is the program. In essence, it is eight months of field simulated pressure. If you like communications and writing, you will do well. If writing is not your thing, you will have a hard time. I think that acquiring employment immediately upon graduation is telling. The program built really well on my experience and as I’ve witnessed, created some for others.
Now that I am off to farther pastures, this program was definitely a good decision. In retrospect, I wanted to do a master’s program, but I got more than what I needed from the graduate certificate. Perhaps, I will pursue a master’s later. Seneca programs have partnerships with universities in the US and Europe which offer master’s program pathways. They allow students from related programs to get some credits for a master’s, thereby shortening the length and cost. However, after this, it will be harder to sit through theory-based education again. The cost of the programs only serves as another deterrent.
So, that was my experience. It was undoubtedly shaped by Covid and the whole program was online, however, I think that was a good thing for me as it allowed me to get the most benefit for my circumstances. Virtual networking was still pretty good, although it might have been nice to visit campus at least once. Oh well!
I enjoyed my experience as an international student in Canada, even if it was a hard ask of my family. Have you ever thought about studying in Canada? Let me know in the comments.
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