by Wendy Terry

originally published in the May/June 2011 Issue

On May 5, 2011, I attended a joint conference of the National Association of Career Colleges and their provincial counterpart the Ontario Association for Career Colleges in Niagara Falls. Career colleges are among the most diverse educational sectors in Ontario. There are 470 career colleges registered with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. They have 640 campuses, 4,600 programs and over 60,000 people graduate every year. Despite the number and diversity of colleges, there is a sense of family as most of the colleges were founded, developed and run by individuals who are committed to their educational enterprise, and they come together at OACC every year.

It feels like family for the students because these career colleges run small classes—ten students or so in each. As a result, not only do the teachers know the students by name and their stories but so do the school directors. No one is anonymous. This personal involvement with their students was demonstrated throughout the conference when students who had graduated came back to tell their learning stories at the start of the sessions. These presentations brought attention to the success of the student.

What struck me the most was audience response to the students’ presentations? During the annual banquet, colleagues were catching up with each other, one ear to the speeches and one to their friend’s news. Yet when a student got up to present, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. His or her success was theirs too.

On the way out with Sonia Nerses of Access Business College we ran into one of her students from twenty-seven years ago, who now works in education herself. They chatted way like cousins who by habit catch up at the family reunion every year.

Robetech, Access Business College, Durham Business and Computer College and Canadian Business College, who have supported the May/June issue of Learning Curves through advertising, are good examples of career colleges. You can find other career colleges on the web site of the Ontario Association for Career Colleges

Toronto, Canada