From Quebec to the NCAA guideline

There aren’t many defensive tackles hanging around at 340+ pounds, and CFC60 Olivier Charles-Pierre was well aware of his scarcity on the trail. Despite garnering attention from all the top U Sports programs in the country, Charles-Pierre had a gut feeling there was a NCAA team willing to take the chance. It’s a lot easier said than done, especially for prospects born in Quebec, who need to carve a completely different path than anyone else in North America.

It’s no secret some of the best talent in Canada is produced in Quebec, but there seems to be a cloak of mystery that surrounds the province. While the rest of Canada largely imitate each other when it comes to their education system, Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (CÉGEP) provides a unique fork in the road for any and all students who’re born in la belle province.

Instead of graduating in grade 12, students leave high school after grade 11 with a DES Diploma, and then can choose between one of the 48 CÉGEP schools to continue their education. The DEC diploma they earn in CÉGEP is a requirement for admission to any university across the province, unless they’re a mature student that enter under a different set of guidelines. Students can choose between the pre-university program which takes two years, or the technical program which takes three years,  and is essentially the equivalent of a college diploma in other provinces with specializations leading to direct employment after graduation. To counterbalance the extra year, most undergraduate programs in Quebec only take three years to complete as opposed to four.

Have I lost you yet? This is usually a confusing process the first time anybody gets a lesson, and most NCAA scouts are caught off guard because of the murky waters surrounding academic eligibility. Talent is never the issue, but instead it’s navigating all the educational hurdles in order to pass NCAA protocol, and also the uphill battle of looking for attention as a first year in CÉGEP when the rest of your class is dominating as seniors. That doesn’t mean scouts run for the hills though, and there’s actually a lot options if prospects do their homework early enough in the process.


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