Navigating Canada: The complete pre-arrival guide for international students enrolling in ECE programs

5 July 2024
Posted in News
5 July 2024 Capital College

Navigating Canada: The complete pre-arrival guide for international students enrolling in ECE programs

Attending school in Canada is an educational and culturally rich experience. Canada accepts thousands of international students every year. 

Are you interested in getting your Early Childhood Educator (ECE) certification in Canada? Keep reading to learn what to expect from the experience. 

Understanding tuition fees

As an international student, your tuition fees may be higher than a domestic student. This higher cost is not to discourage international students from enrolling but is related to subsidies. 

The Canadian government subsidizes tuition for domestic students. However, this funding is unavailable for international students, so their tuition reflects the total, unsubsidized cost of post-secondary education. 

Both domestic and international students get the same educational experience, but as an international student, you only pay slightly more due to not qualifying for Canadian government subsidies.

Finding accommodations

After enrolling in a school like Capital College, you’ll need to find a place to live. Fortunately, most of our ECE programs are taught online. If you want to live in a convenient location, you can choose to stay near a Skytrain or bus station. 

If you have the means, living independently in Canada can be a rewarding experience. However, many students choose to live with roommates to offset the high housing rental costs in major Canadian city centres. If you’re considering this option, social media groups can be a great resource.

Another accommodation option is to connect with a homestay organization for housing. In this program, you live with a Canadian family while you attend school. It can often be more affordable than living in your own place, and you learn more about Canada from your host family. 

Working while attending school in Canada

While there are some scholarships and bursaries you may qualify for as an international student, you don’t qualify for the ECE Education Support Fund (it’s for domestic or PR students only). To help you pay for your school in Canada, the government has relaxed their laws regarding working while attending school. 

Previously, you needed separate education and working visas. Now, your educational visa may permit you to work up to 20 hours per week while attending full-time school. 

Your Canadian study permit will specify your rules regarding seeking employment while in school. Typically, you will be permitted to obtain off-campus employment if you meet all of the following requirements: 

  • You’re a full-time student or in your last semester with part-time classes. 
  • Enrolled in an approved school (such as Capital College). 
  • Your program is at least six months long and leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate.
  • Your classes have already commenced. 
  • You have a Canadian Social Insurance Number. 

To avoid students taking advantage of the system, you must maintain your educational status to keep your employment. 

In addition to the 20 hours per week, you may be allowed to work extra during holidays or school breaks. You can also seek out-of-country employment (such as working remotely for your family’s business at home), and these hours are beyond the 20-hour weekly limit. 

Things that may surprise you about Canada

If you’ve never been to Canada, you may be surprised by some of our customs and norms. Here are a few things to be aware of:

  • Tax: The price you see is rarely the price you pay. Goods and services are subject to an additional national tax (GST) and provincial tax (PST). GST is 5% nationally, and PST in British Columbia is 7%.
  • Tipping for service: Most service-based businesses (restaurants, salons..etc) expect a tip in addition to your bill. This amount is typically 10-20% of your pre-tax bill.
  • Work-life balance is encouraged: A healthy work-life (or school-life) balance is encouraged for most schools and businesses. Depending on where you were raised, you may be used to stricter rules regarding your study and leisure habits. While attending school in Canada, your teachers may recommend some social or other events and activities you can do outside of school. If they don’t, ask, as we’re sure they’ll love to share some of their favourite places with you. 
  • We’re pretty an outdoorsy people: Many Canadians love to spend time in the great outdoors. When attending school at Capital College near Vancouver, BC, you can access the ocean, forests, lakes, and mountains—you could even visit them all in a day). Take time to explore the great outdoors with your classmates and new friends. 

Make time for community exploration

We discussed school-life balance earlier in this article but want to emphasize it again. Take time to explore this great country while studying for your ECE in Canada. You may return to your home country after graduation, so use this opportunity to know Canada better. 

Here are some uniquely Canadian things to put on your Canada bucket list while you’re attending school here:

  • Try poutine (fries, melted cheese curds, and gravy)
  • Order a “double-double” coffee (this means a coffee with two cream and two sugar)
  • Try a Beaver Tail (like a giant flat donut with customizable toppings)
  • Explore the great outdoors
  • Try the myriad of international and fusion cuisines
  • Watch a hockey game
  • Visit the Canadian Rockies (you can drive there within a day from Vancouver)
  • Go hiking
  • Listen to Canadian musical artists and check out local art galleries
  • Play in the snow (you may need to head to the local ski hills for snow)

Other costs to consider for school in Canada

As you plan to study as an international student in Canada, there are additional fees (in addition to your tuition) that you may need to budget for. These include the following: 

  • Books: You’ll likely need several books for your studies. The required reading list will be provided before class so you can begin buying your books in advance. You can expect to pay $100-500 for school-required readings. 
  • Application Fees: When you apply, you’ll need to pay a small application fee to process your application. For international students, this is typically $200-500 (more for international students).
  • Transportation: Unless you live on campus or within walking distance, you’ll need to set aside money for a bus pass or car. Don’t forget about gas and parking, too. 
  • Course materials: If you don’t already have one, you’ll find it helpful to have a laptop computer for taking notes and writing up assignments. Having physical notebooks and pens will also come in handy for note-taking. 
  • Graduation fees: Your school will likely include a small extra fee to cover costs associated with your graduation ceremony. 

Ready to enroll in ECE classes at Capital College?

Did you know Capital College welcomes domestic and international students into our Early Childhood Education programs? You get to study alongside other international students and meet locals with the same passion for childcare and development.

If you have any questions about enrolling in our programs as an international student or about life as a student in Canada, contact us


When ready, submit your ECE program application for Capital College online today.