By Aaraksh Siwakoti

A college diploma opens up a world of possibilities for you. But is just one enough to get you that dream job you’ve always wanted, or should you head to university and pad your resumé?

For graduates, the workforce is usually the ideal destination after college but some opt to return in order to obtain another diploma or degree to help them compete in their chosen field.

And students who return to college often do so because they find the competition in the workforce to be stronger than they expected and the university route to be too time-consuming.

“I’m not a fan of the university setting,” said Samantha Billings-Turner, an early childhood education student and a graduate of the recreation and leisure services program. “The whole lecture hall and theoretical work isn’t really my idea of learning and I don’t want to spend four years on one degree. I like the hands-on approach you get from college.”

Though she found part-time employment at a local recreation centre after obtaining her first diploma, Billings-Turner found it more difficult to land a permanent one.

“I found that in order to find a good job in my field I needed to come back and do another diploma,” she said. “It’s tough out there in some fields with supply being more than demand; you need to separate yourself from your fellow graduates in order to land that job you’ve always wanted.”

She’s not alone. According to Colleges Ontario, 28 per cent of Ontario graduates in 2011 chose to continue their education as a full-time or part-time student.

“Employers always looked at my resumé and were impressed with the diploma and certificate I had,” said Billings-Turner, also a crisis management and human psychology graduate. “But I felt like the job I wanted warranted another diploma, so I came back. I know they will definitely help me alongside my ECE diploma.”

Although some students return to boost their hiring chances, some return to change their career path and see college as the only viable option.

“I just couldn’t find the job I wanted through my first diploma,” said Garrett Hansen, a graduate of the music industry arts program and returning student in the electrical engineering technician program. “I had job offers but they weren’t quite the ones I was looking for. I ended up working with my uncle in the summer as an (electrician) apprentice and just loved it. I decided that this is what I wanted to do as a career and Algonquin has a great program, plus I graduated from there so it was a no-brainer to go back.”

Hansen felt that his first diploma helped him in the workforce but it really wasn’t what he wanted to do and that going back was the best option for him since he was headed into the trades this time around.

“I’ve always heard great things about the trades at Algonquin,” he said. “This is something I know I want to do so why not go back to the school that I enjoyed going to before? University is expensive and there isn’t really a degree that I want to pursue which would help me in my field.”

Students like Billings-Turner and Hansen factored time and money into their decision when choosing where to continue their education but others find that university is the better option when they are looking to advance in their field.

“My diploma was a good way to get me started as a social worker,” said Josh Davidson, a graduate of the social service worker program and current social work undergraduate at Dalhousie. “I had a great placement through Algonquin and landed a job through it, but I wanted to do more and have way more advancement opportunities and I felt that a degree would go along way in that regard. So I decided to apply to get my bachelors, which I hope opens up more doors than just my diploma could.”

Though the job market is tough at the moment, some graduates see this as an opportunity to upgrade their education in order to have a stronger chance to land a job in their field later on.

“There weren’t that many full-time jobs in Ottawa after I graduated from college,” said Dominic Pacheco, a practical nursing program graduate. “I decided going to university to get my RPN (registered practical nursing degree) was a better decision at the time than going to get another diploma and would definitely help me land a full-time job in the long run as a nurse.”

With many options available to students after graduation returning to college or continuing your education in university are strong choices but searching for the right path is ultimately your decision.

“Whether you choose to return to college after graduation or not is your decision alone, “ said Pacheco. “There are countless ways to achieve the goals you have set for yourself. Mine was to go to university. What worked for me might not work for someone else, but then again, they will find what’s best for themselves in the end.”