Collège d'Enseignement Général Et Professionnel

College of General and Vocational Education
(The acronym doesn't quite work in English)

The history of CEGEPs begins in the late 1960s in Quebec. There was for some reason an over-abundance of University level professors so the government decided to change the education system around so that they could be given jobs. And so, today, instead of being in high-school until grade 12, Quebec students graduate in grade 11 and attend CEGEP for another 2 or 3 years before going to a real University or getting a job.

All public CEGEPs offer two kinds of programs: the two-year general programs for students who wish to continue their education at the University level and the three-year specialized career programs designed for students who wish to enter the labour force upon graduation. Upon graduation from CEGEP you obtain your diploma which is called a DEC (Diplome d'Etudes Collegiale (Diploma of Collegial Studies)).

Some Universities accept students with a DEC into programs as second year students; however, the Universities in Quebec do not. So, if you stay in Quebec for the free education, you fall a year behind people of your age outside the province.
Describing students in Quebec as falling a year behind is perhaps a little innacurate. In a technical sense yes, they are delaying university by a year. But Quebec Universities are naturally adapted to this. Also, since CEGEP's offer a university lifestyle and programs that are high school-level in their intensity, it makes the transition from high school to university considerably smoother.

There are hundreds od CEGEP's in Quebec in both English and French with innumerable specialties and exclusive programs. Two I will mention are John Abbott College and Vanier, simply because they have their own write-ups.

Recently, the future of CEGEPs in the educational system has come into question. One of the reasons these schools were brought into existence was to address the large number of students failing their first semester(s) of university. Although effective at first, many students are now faling their first semester of CEGEP, so the problem hasn't really been permanently solved. It is also a widely-held belief that CEGEPs have become too rigid in their structure, a belief I'm inclined to agree with. Insofar as being a pre-university insitution, the programs now offered are extremely limiting when it comes to the paths they open to higher learning.

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