Continuing Education + Job Training // Publishing since 1999
Career Focus

Going Back To School: You Are Never Too Late

By WENDY TERRY - September 8 2014

Summer holiday mode is over, you have turned your mind to work mode, the kids are settled in school and you have time to think about taking a course yourself, only to find the Fall term has already started at many places. What to do?

  1. There are courses that have continuous intake.
  2. You can start doing the ground work to get into a course in the Winter term.

Winter term registration is open now at many sites, and some start registration in late October or early November. So don’t put off registering for the Winter term until after Christmas holidays! This article will help you get a handle on intake-continuous, termbased, admission- required or open courses.

If starting school in the Winter term seems uninviting what with the cold and dark, there are distance education options for a great percentage of courses these days. Most of them have set term start dates, others have continuous intake.

The advantage of shopping for courses now is that the rush is over and the program officer and financial aid officer have more time to talk to you. For an overview on what questions to ask see Fall 2013 pg.2 Back to School? at archives.

Some adults are looking to improve work skills and some are looking for courses for personal interest. We will start with the work-related courses.

Learning for Work

Earning high school credits or a diploma

The Independent Learning Centre has continuous intake. ILC is designated by the Ontario Ministry of Education to offer distance education high school courses and credit and non-credit courses in English as a Second Language. ILC is the sole provider of GED (General Educational Development) testing, the high school equivalency test. If you pass the test, you don’t need to do all the courses.

The community-based programs that offer GED test preparation have continuous intake and are listed by city on the ILC website. Click on GED on the ILC web site and click on How to Prepare for the Tests to find a list of GED prep centres.

Call 416-484-2704 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Mon. to Fri. or go to

The Toronto District School Board, adult day school programs have a four semesters a year, so if you missed the first intake in late August, make sure you call about the second intake in late October.

Scarborough SCAS 416-396-6921

Toronto CALC 416-393-9740

South Etobicoke BALC 416-394-7130

North Etobicoke EAL 416-395-3225.

North York YALC 416-395-3350


For an overview of public and Catholic school board programs in the Greater Toronto Area see Spring 2012, pg.10 Learning in the GTA at archives.

Learning English

Most ESL and LINC programs have continuous intake. As of last year, you must be assessed at a Language Assessment and Referral Centre if you haven’t been enrolled in an ESL or LINC program before. There they can also give you information on ELT Enhanced Language Training), OSLT (Occupation Specific Language Training), and SLT (Specialized Language Training) programs as well as LINC home study. These centres are run by the YMCA of Greater Toronto. Call 416-925-5462. The centres have information on programs at the TDSB, TCDSB, colleges, community groups, so you won’t miss out on a more suitable class. For an overview on these centres see Winter 2013 front pg. New! Second Language Assessment Now Centralized, Who, What, Where and When at archives.

Going to College, University

Most colleges and universities have term start dates but some have continuous intake. First set the dates.

Going to college or university full-time has become more common for adults. Recent studies have documented the great range of ages now present in the student body. For an overview on going back full time see Summer 2013 front pg. Changing it Up: Going Back to School Full Time at archives. For an overview on university programs specifically for adults, see Summer 2012 front pg., Why Not U? University Access for Adult Learners at Ryerson, York and U of T (website above).

If you go full-time, most of the courses are usually in the day. You’ll need to be admitted to a program of study. This takes time: getting transcripts from previous schooling, doing competency tests, maybe doing some upgrading courses, assessing the possibility of transferring credits from other educational programs, or doing a prior learning assessment at the colleges based on work experience. So now is the time to start the admissions process in order to start in the Winter term.

If you want to earn a degree at university part-time during the day or at night school, you have to be admitted to a program of study. If you are going to go during the day to earn a diploma or certificate part-time at college, you only have to go through an admission process.

The continuing education part-time evening courses at colleges have for the most part open admissions. You pay, you go. When you have done the courses required for a particular program of study, you then apply to get the certificate, diploma.

Note that you can transfer courses earned through open admissions evening models to the day programs, if equivalent. Some students first do as many courses at night as they can that can be counted towards a diploma, then do the last courses full-time or part-time during the day. They often negotiate flex time or a leave with their employer to finish programs.

There are open admission courses at the universities. We have listed the numbers for the college part-time and university continuing education programs below. Unfortunately, Fall courses have started, so start shopping now to make sure you get into the Winter term. It starts in January but you need to register before the Christmas break. If you wait, the course could be full, or cancelled for lack of a few more enrolments from you and couple of others who waited.

Don’t forget, many of these courses will be offered through distance education, so check out that option.

Whether you go part-time or full-time you will want to check out funding options. There is financial support for going part-time, so taking the time to check this out now will be worthwhile. For an overview of financial aid see Spring 2013 front pg. Ask and You May Receive, Finding the Money for Part-time Studies, archives.

Open Admissions Universities – Toronto

Distance Education- Continuous Intake, Open Admissions

There are colleges and universities all over Ontario and Canada offering distance education. For university courses, check Canadian Virtual University at and for college courses check out Ontario Learn at There are two “open” universities in Canada, Athabasca University in Alberta and Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia. “Open” means continuous intake and no admission requirements. Open universities are more common in Nordic countries than in Canada. For an overview of university distance education in Canada see Winter 2012 pg.15 Going Ahead With Distance Ed. archives. The Ontario colleges’ distance education courses have monthly start dates, October 1, November 1 and so on.

College and University Preparation Courses

There is a whole sector of courses which seem almost hidden from view in the course calendars or online. It’s like walking into a car dealership where the high end models are up front and the economy ones are out back.

These courses help you upgrade your language, math, science, computers, ESL skills in order to be successful in a college or university program. They are often free as they are government-funded, have open admissions, and continuous intake. They are not listed under preparation courses, for continuing education. Here is a sampling of where you can find them by looking at the Calendar indexes.

At Seneca, you can find them under the Faculty of Workforce Development Skills, on a line not under Continuing Education. Seneca does not print calendars for full-time or part-time studies.

At George Brown, these courses are listed in the full-time programs calendar, Preparatory & Liberal Studies, then School of Work and College Preparation. In Continuing Education, they are listed under the Liberal Arts and Sciences, then Mathematics and College Preparation. They are more visible in the full-time calendar than in the continuing education one.

In the Humber College continuing education calendar, they are listed under English, then English for Academic purposes and English as a Second Language, then under Mathematics where you have to know that Business Mathematics and Technical Mathematics are upgrading courses.

In the Centennial College Continuing Education calendar, they are listed under General Education and Mathematics and Languages.

In the Sheridan College Continuing Education calendar, they are listed under Communication and Languages, then EnglishEssential Communication Skills and Education and Liberal Studies, then General Studies.

In the Durham College Continuing Education calendar, Languages are listed in their index but this leads you to Spanish, French, Signing, etc. In the Distance Education section of the calendar, there is a box listing Academic and Career Entrance courses.

The cardinal rule as an adult student is ASK. If you think you need upgrading ask, the program staff will lead you to the right place.

For an in-depth look at college and university preparation courses see Fall 2012 issue, pg .2 Going Back to School but starting on page 3 College Prep leading to pg. 15.


Apprenticeships are one of the best continuous intake, free, open admissions programs. For example, you learn by working (paid work) with someone who is already a licensed auto body mechanic, mechanic, electrician, plumber etc. As soon as you find an auto body shop that will take you as an apprentice mechanic you start learning. There are hundreds of skilled trades in sectors like Automotive, Construction, or Manufacturing where you learn on the job. For and in-depth look at becoming an apprentice see the Summer 2014 issue pg. 2 at

Community-based programs

These are not-for-profit programs which often have continuous intake. They are small and many are in Toronto and the GTA. Go to the Find Help 211 Directory on line and choose Employment and Training or Newcomers. As they are small, you will get immediate personalized help. Often their courses are free depending on your personal situation, meeting the criteria for their government funding.

Career Colleges

These programs mostly have continuous intake. They are small privately-run colleges licensed by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. As they are small, you will get immediate personalized help. Go to the Career Colleges Ontario site., and click on “Student: college search” to locate a college near you. Depending on your situation, there are funding programs like Second Career that will pay for the tuition.

Professional Associations

These membership-based associations are one of the most overlooked resources for adults who are seeking work and training. Job openings are posted on association websites in job banks. If you want an editorial job, for instance, don’t look in publicly accessible classifieds. Jobs will be posted on the website for the Editor’s Association of Canada. For job search reasons, your membership fee is well spent. Professional associations often run courses themselves or in co-operation with colleges. These partnerships are listed in continuing education college calendars.

For an in-depth look at training and job postings that these associations offer, go to another Learning Curves website: Click on “Skill Transfer for Internationally Trained” to see a series of articles on professional associations in engineering, computer technology, medicine, business and law.

The Associations Canada Directory, found in the reference section of most libraries, lists thousands of associations in every possible field.

Toronto District School Board

The Learn4Life courses at the TDSB relate to work and interest. So we have listed them here as we move to the personal interest section of this back to school overview. For work related courses, try looking under Business and Finance, Communication, Computers. See www.learn4

One person’s general interest course could be another’s work-related one. Craft courses could be my interest but for someone else, having a gift shop is a way to make a living.

These courses are open admissions and classes start on Saturday, September 13th and the Monday to Thursday the following week.

The Winter Term registration starts November 19th, even though the classes start January 10, Don’t wait though, register as soon as possible. They are popular as they are the very affordable.

Learning for Personal Interest

At any age, we learn for interest but most of the time, our learning interests match life stages. Youth usually go full-time to prepare for worklife. In our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, we often study in a work-related program part-time. Recently, many adults who have been laid off go back to school with Second Career funding.

For the most part, people born after the Second World War, boomers as they are known, have driven the adult education market. I was one of the boomer women who left high school to work then came back to get a degree part-time at night. Whole colleges were organized around that cohort which now either no longer exists (Atkinson College, York U), or has changed focus (Woodsworth College, U of T). Many boomers entering their 60’s are less motivated by work related learning and more by interest learning.

For a more in depth examination of this growing adult education market see Summer 2013 issue pg. 2 at Archives.

Toronto District School Board As mentioned above, the TDSB Learn4Life courses can relate to work and interest. For more personal interest courses, look under Art, Crafts, Dance, etc. at

These courses generally follow a previously common pattern of starting a couple of weeks after children go back to school. You can still get in the Fall Term.

Free Courses

The advantage of interest courses is that many are free and they run throughout the year. In our back to school issue last year, Fall 2013, the front page article Learning for Free, gave an overview of such programs. See archives and the Fall 2011 issue pg. 12 Learning for you, Learning for Fun on the same website.

Many of these courses or lectures are offered by local libraries, recreation centres, museums, art galleries, cultural centres, music and film festivals, poetry nights. Have a look and let your mind dream of all the possibilities.

Fine Arts

Courses where we can express our creativity, like writing or painting, fall under the general label of fine arts. Our December 2010 issue was dedicated to articles on learning in the fine arts. See archives.

Liberal Arts

Courses that build your general knowledge and develop your critical enquiry skills usually Fall under the general label of liberal arts (humanities, social studies, anthropology, history and so on). See March – April 2011 issue, pg.5, Finding Liberal Arts Courses,

Digital Citizen Corner
Learning Curves

Navigating the Digital Minefield: Protecting Your Privacy in a Connected World

June 4 2024

In our digitally driven world, technology is deeply intertwined with our daily lives, presenting constant threats to our privacy. From the devices we depend on to the public spaces we traverse, the digital landscape poses significant challenges to our personal information security. 


Learning Curves

Personal Brand: Significance and Development Strategies

May 30 2024

In today's competitive marketplace, personal branding is essential for establishing a deep connection with your audience and differentiating yourself from competitors. By authentically representing your values and journey, you can build a strong, sustainable brand that resonates with people and creates lasting impressions.


Learning Curves

It wasn't just a pizza...

May 26 2024

A heartwarming story from a Lebanese friend highlights the cultural challenges and kindness encountered by immigrants, as two women collecting grape leaves for a traditional dish were unexpectedly gifted pizzas by a compassionate police officer. This anecdote underscores the importance of understanding and supporting the diverse needs of newcomers in our communities.


Teacher’s Voice
Learning Curves

Thinking about Exams

May 17 2024

Some colleagues and I find exams to be stressful experiences for college students who usually cram for them. Given viable options to traditional midterm and final exams, we want to try other learning components for the same marks. We’ve shared with each other reasons for choosing learning over testing. Over time, we’ve also seen administration’s interest in making exams optional.