The Complete College Guide for Mature Students
SO YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT GOING BACK TO SCHOOL?
Perhaps you went to college or university several years ago but want to upgrade your skills or change careers. Or you took some time away from school to raise a family and now that the kids are all grown up, you're ready to get back to it.
Whatever your reasons for going back to a life of learning, you may find yourself in a very different educational environment. The post-secondary education system has changed over the years due to increasing demands of employers, growing competition in the workforce and shifting expectations of students.
The best place to begin is the Ontario College Application Services (OCAS) website at www.ontariocolleges.ca where you will find information on colleges, programs and courses, the application process, important dates, financial assistance and lots more.
Also take a look at the websites of the colleges you are interested in applying to for more specific information. Visit our web site to find information about Programs and Courses at George Brown College.
Things to ask yourself when choosing a college
There is no right or wrong way to go about choosing a college because everyone's choices will be based on different goals and interests. Here are some questions to consider when choosing a college:
How accessible is the campus?
Because you'll be going to school almost every day, you don't want to waste too much time or money just getting there so location is a key consideration. George Brown's three campuses are all within walking distance of the TTC - talk about great location!
What is the quality of the teaching staff?
The best faculty not only care about your success but also bring a lot of experience and expertise to the classroom and are respected in their field. Ask the co-ordinator of the program you are interested in how you can find out more about the faculty.
Are there opportunities to get real work experience?
Co-op placements, internships and work terms are the best way for you to really see what working in a particular field is like and make important contacts with employers. Look for colleges that have built strong partnerships with reputable companies and employers in different sectors of the workforce.
Will I have a chance to make the right connections?
Sometimes who you know is just as important as what you know. Colleges that are well connected to different sectors and industries will be able to provide more networking opportunities like company tours, guest speakers, and events that allow you to meet potential employers and industry influencers. On the George Brown College website, each program area lists its industry partners so students can see the kinds of connections they will benefit from.
Will I get a job after graduation?
If you're coming from the workforce, you know how competitive it can be out there. You want to make sure that the college you are applying to will enable you to be employable - immediately. Most college websites will publish data such as graduate employment rates.
How good are the services?
The beginning of the year is always a hectic time so it's important that a college can provide efficient and reliable service to its most valuable customer. Friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff in Registration, Financial Aid and other major student service departments play a huge role in getting your year off to the right start.
Are the facilities up-to-date?
You want to be trained on the best and most up-to-date equipment so that you are employable after graduation. Take a tour to see for yourself how the facilities measure up.
Do I have choice and flexibility?
There are several ways to reach your academic goals. Some colleges now offer bachelor's degrees in addition to diplomas, certificates and apprenticeships. You may even be allowed to study part-time or through Distance Education. George Brown's Continuing Education division offers a wide array of courses and certificate programs.
Degrees with direction
George Brown, along with other select Ontario colleges, have been designated to grant bachelor's degrees since 2003. If a degree program is one of your educational goals but university isn't the right option for you, take a look at this section and decide for yourself if what you need is a degree with direction.
You study at the college for four years and graduate with an undergraduate bachelor's degree. George Brown offers degrees in Financial Services, Hospitality Operations Management, and Construction Science and Management.
You study for two years at the college, two more years at a university and come out with either a diploma and a bachelor's degree. We offer collaborative degrees in Registered Nursing and collaborative degrees in Early Childhood Education, both with Toronto Metropolitan University.
Applying to college
Once you have chosen the program(s) you are interested in, you can apply at OCAS either online at www.ontariocolleges.ca or by calling 1-888-892-2228 or (519) 763-4725. Complete the form, follow the instructions regarding supporting documentation and submit your application along with the application fee. Check with OCAS for the exact amount required.
For programs starting in September - Apply By: for competitive programs, after Dec. 1; for all others, Feb. 1 for equal consideration
Once you have been given an offer of admission to the program of your choice, the college let you know when you need to accept the offer by. Pay careful attention to this date because if you miss it, you could lose your spot in the program.
Advanced standing and course exemptions
Advanced standing provides credits for previous courses taken in a related field of study which sometimes enables you to start further into the program. Course exemptions give you credit for equivalent courses taken at another academic institution.
You can apply for advanced standing on the OCAS form. A separate request form is available for course exemptions in the registration department or individual program offices.
Other admission requirements
Some programs like Fashion, Community Services, Culinary Arts, Theatre and Dance require more than just your transcript. For some, you have to submit a portfolio of your work, write an admissions test or attend an interview or audition. Here are some pointers on how to prepare.
Faculty and program co-ordinators who conduct the applicant interviews are looking for students who will succeed in the program and out in the working world. Here are some things to think about beforehand:
- Be prepared to talk about the things you have done that are either directly related to the program or have indirectly influenced your educational aspirations.
- Practice your interviewing skills until you feel comfortable and confident enough that your nerves won't take over during the real thing.
- Treat it like a job interview in the way that you dress, carry yourself and interact with the interviewers.
If you have to submit a portfolio, be sure to find out exactly what needs to be included from the faculty office in the area of your interest.
Again, the first step is to understand what is required for your audition and prepare accordingly.
Larry LaForet, of George Brown's School of Media and Performing Arts, offers these general auditioning tips:
- Use your own voice, instead of accents.
- Choose a monologue from a stage play, not a movie.
- Pick an audition piece that is appropriate for your age.
- Memorize your piece so you don't need to read it from a piece of paper.
- If you have to pick more than one piece, make sure they're completely different from each other to show your full range of ability.
How to pay for college
No doubt about it, post-secondary education is expensive. Thankfully, there are a number of sources that can help you pay for college. For starters:
Ontario Student Assistance Program OSAP loans
You may receive OSAP funding in the form of loans (money you pay back) and grants (money you don’t have to pay back) if the college you are attending is approved for student loan purposes and you are taking at least 60 per cent of a full-time program (40 per cent if you have a disability).
OSAP recommends that you apply as early as possible to allow sufficient processing time.
- applications are available on the OSAP website
If you are approved, you'll get a portion of your loan at the beginning of your study period and the rest about halfway through.
Here are some other things to consider with OSAP:
- Assistance for part-time students: check the OSAP website for loans available for part-time studies.
- Repaying your loan: OSAP offers a number of programs to help you manage and repay your loans. Go to www.ontario.ca/osap for more information.
Bank loans and lines of credit
Several banks have products that are tailor-made for people enrolled in post-secondary education. This option is worth investigating because interest rates and payback periods will vary from OSAP loans.
Bursaries, scholarships and awards
Support in the form of scholarships, awards and bursaries are awarded to eligible students based on criteria including and not limited to academic achievement, financial need, and community involvement. The criteria varies based on the award and can be viewed under the types of awards page.
For step-by-step instructions on how to apply for awards on STU-VIEW, visit the Student Awards Information Page.
- February 1
Last day for equal consideration for admission to programs beginning in September. After this date, colleges consider applications on a first-come, first-serve basis.
- After Feb. 1
Offers of admission are sent to mature students
- Early March
Online application for Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) for September is available.
- Late May
Paper application for OSAP for September is available.
Deadline for confirming acceptance of admission in programs starting September.
- Early July
Fees for September are due.
*Please note that these dates are based on information pertaining to programs starting in September. Check the OCAS site for more details.
Important phone numbers and websites
Here is list of helpful numbers and URLs to keep right by the phone and computer.
|OCAS||(519) 763-4725; 1-888-892-2228; www.ontariocolleges.ca|
|OSAP||(807) 343-7260 |
|College University Transfer Guide|
|George Brown College:|
|General Information||(416) 415-2000|
|Admissions||(416) 415-5000, ext. 4805|
|Campus Tours||(416) 415-5000, ext. 2896|
|Assessment Centre||(416) 415-5000, ext. 4992|
|Advising Services||(416) 415-5000, ext. 2949|
|Accessible Learning Services||(416) 415-5000, ext. 2622|
Take a tour
The best way to get to know a college that you are interested in is to see it for yourself. Most colleges offer guided tours of their campus(es) and facilities. You will also find that specific programs hold information sessions or open houses for potential students to get more info.
George Brown offers campus tours and information sessions (including ones just for mature students) throughout the year.
Once you've signed up for a tour, you want to make sure you get the most out of it especially if you are coming from out of town to see the campus. Here's how:
- If you want to speak to someone from the faculty, ask when booking your tour if that's possible.
- Make a list of questions to ask and things to see on your tour. You don't want to have to go back if you miss out on something.
- Bring a friend or a family member; they might come up with questions that you never thought of while you're walking around campus and taking everything in.
- If you have a camera, bring it along to take pictures of the surroundings. That will make it easier to remember what you saw on each tour especially if you plan on seeing a few different campuses.
A great way to get all the answers you're looking for is to attend an information session about the program you're interested in. Each program area at George Brown holds info sessions for prospective students, friends, and family throughout the year at the college. These sessions, hosted by college faculty, are informative, interactive, and essential to helping you make this important decision.
Dates, times, and locations of information sessions at George Brown are listed on the Info Sessions webpage.
If there is anything that we missed or if you have any suggestions or comments about George Brown's Complete College Guide, please let us know.
George Brown College Liaison and Marketing Department at (416) 415-5000, ext. 2896.