Opinion

Muskens: Program aimed at helping more aboriginal students graduate

As promised last week, here is the continuation of the Student Transition Project fast facts on post-secondary education.

Most aboriginal students enter Grade 8, but after this point, only 49 per cent will graduate from high school. This is significantly less than non-aboriginal students where the high school graduation rate is 80 per cent.

Following this, only 32 per cent of aboriginal students will transition to post-secondary education within five years of leaving high school.

This is why you will see many initiatives by both the post-secondary institutions and the provincial government to help aboriginal students stay in school.

Another fast-fact looked at high achievers. This is the per cent of Grade 12 graduates who graduated with an overall average of 75 per cent or higher on their academic courses.

Since 2004 each graduating class had about 31 per cent of its students classified as high achievers.

Of these high achievers, since 2004, 52 per cent within one year of graduation enrolled in one of British Columbia’s research universities. These universities are UBC, SFU, UVic and UNBC. Another 18 per cent enrolled in either a community college or a teaching university and on average about 30 per cent didn’t enroll.

Although this percentage seems high, chances are many of these students entered college or university later on.

So what are the differences between those students who go into college and university straight from high school and those who don’t?

Thirty-eight per cent of students who go straight from high school to post-secondary education enroll in UBC, SFU, UNBC, or UVic. For those who wait a year or two, only 12 per cent will enroll in one of these research universities—which also have the highest admission standards.

Of the high school students who transition straight to college or university, 62 per cent will enroll at a teaching university, community college or technical school such as BCIT. For those who wait a year or more, this increases to 88 per cent.

One of the main differences between research universities and the other post-secondary institutions in B.C. is that the colleges, teaching universities and BCIT offer applied programs. These are programs which combine theory with applied skills.

Many of these programs meet accreditation standards where upon graduation students become Red Sealed, licensed or accredited to work in various fields such as technologists, technicians, journey person etc.

This data then tells us that the longer an individual puts off going to the college or university the more likely they are to enroll in a program which provides specific training for employment.

At Okanagan College we have similar data, where most of our high school students enroll in our arts, science and business programs, where our adult learners tend to enroll in technology, health and trades programs.

But students don’t always do what you expect them to do, and it’s surprising how many enroll in a program and change their minds.

All post-secondary institutions have students who leave before they graduate. Some will transition to employment, others will transfer to another school either within or outside of B.C., and some may just need more time to figure out exactly what they want to do.

Although data paints us a pretty good picture of what’s out there, you are bound to find a student who just didn’t fit the profile and that’s because making a decision about your education is a life changing experience.

Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College.

jmuskens@okanagan.bc.ca

 

 

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