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Reviews of Communication Programs in Vancouver

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Paul Tyson, Tony Chung, Erin Lemky

Published: May 2008 in Core Competencies, Viewpoints

Whenever I assess a program, I research the practical value of the course load and quality of instruction, and whether I will learn anything, or whether I will merely be jumping through hoops to get a piece of paper to file in my closet.

Often aspiring technical writers, writers, communicators ask which program is the best: BCIT, SFU, Douglas College? Here are some thoughts from an email discussion. If you have more thoughts to add, please feel free to add them. Send them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

A short review from Paul Tyson:

It’s a tough call. I think the program at SFU is quite good, and I would say that most people are working full-time while they are doing courses. I did the Business Writing Certificate at SFU, and I think that the Tech Comm program is much more practical. There was cost saving involved in choosing the SFU route, as I was able to get credit for a few courses I took in the Bus Writing program. And SFU is just a seabus ride away. The BCIT program has been running a while now, and I wouldn’t hesitate to enroll there. I don’t think you can go wrong with either program . . . . I’m interested to see what Tony has to say.

From Tony Chung, the newsletter editor:
I’m really the last person to ask about school choices. Our current culture’s obsession with academic qualifications worries me, because it promotes schools to pump out graduates without having to teach anything. I have the same insightful debates about specific issues, better even, while sitting at Starbucks with my friends.

Whenever I assess a program, I research the practical value of the course load and quality of instruction, and whether I will learn anything, or whether I will merely be jumping through hoops to get a piece of paper to file in my closet.

SFU has a good program. However, I shy away from short (4 - 5 session) courses because in my previous experience with the UBC/ECIAD Multimedia program I found that by the time I finally understood the core concepts, the course was over. I like to take at least six weeks to learn a concept, fail miserably by the midterm, learn from my mistakes, and apply them to ace the final.

Most BCIT courses are 12 weeks long. The material is practical, you learn skill with tools at the same time as learning principles that can be transferred to any tool.

SFU provides all the required text in a photocopied binder that is part of the course, whereas some BCIT courses require you to purchase a $100 text book.

SFU’s courses cost more for fewer sessions, and I believe you are required to take fewer courses for a complete diploma. BCIT’s courses range from $400 to $550 for 6 or 12 sessions and there are 9 required courses, 1 required tool elective, and an industry project.

In my experience, having previously worked in a healthcare-related job, my government friends found comfort joining their peers at SFU. Most BCIT students are looking to change jobs completely.

SFU gives STC Canada West Coast members a 10% price break on W&P courses. Occasionally you will find SFU also offers a 2-for-1 special on some courses.

Hope this makes your decision easier.

From Erin Lemky:

I don’t know a whole lot about the BCIT program, but as far as I’m concerned, the school has a solid reputation.

I’ve taken the SFU Business Writing, Public Relations, and Marketing Communication Certificate, and it was absolutely the best choice for my career that I’ve made. I’m in my dream job and wouldn’t have gotten here without the experience I received in SFU’s Writing & Publishing Program, or having their program on my resume.

Since the SFU program offers a lot of its courses in the evening and on weekends, I was able to take the full program while working full-time, taking only five vacation days from work. I finished the program in eight months.

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