Those of you who don’t live in Quebec may not know what a CEGEP is or how it works. And you may want to. Happy to oblige.
(CEGEP teachers: please feel free to comment on what I’ve gotten wrong or left out.)
Students in Quebec spend five years in high school (Secondary 1-5, equivalent to grades 7-11 elsewhere.) If they want to continue their schooling, they usually go on to CEGEP, where they either spend two years preparing for university or three years studying a profession or trade (nursing, document design, architectural technology, animal health, etc.)
Most of our students, therefore, are 17-21 years old, although we also get many mature students, especially in trade or professional programs.
In CEGEP, unlike high school, students are pursuing a specific program, even if they are preparing for university (they might study pure and applied sciences, health sciences, social sciences, liberal arts, or modern languages.) Most of their courses are directly related to that program. However, they are also required to pass General Studies courses (in the English CEGEPs these are English, French as a Second Language, Humanities, and Physical Education.) Those of us who teach General Studies, therefore, teach students from all programs, usually in multi-program classes (although in English, for example, one of the students’ four required courses is meant to be specific to their program.)