It takes a lot of people to get one student to graduate with a post-secondary credential.
We often just think about professors and instructors but many of us would be surprised to hear about all the other professionals at colleges and universities who help students succeed.
Many of these people are referred to as student services staff.
They come in many forms such as counselors, education advisors, admission advisors, disability services coordinators, and aboriginal mentors, to name a few.
They tend to work with a broad range of students and are usually among the first faces a student will see when they need extra support outside of the classroom.
In the last 20 years there have been increases in the demand for student services.
These demands are the result of a system that has become more inclusive.
In other words, prior to about the late 1960s only the best and brightest went off to college.
Today, we have system of post-secondary institutions that see themselves as inclusive micro-societies where there is a place for just about every student.
A perfect example of this is the increase in accommodations each institution provides to students with documented disabilities.
At Okanagan College we provide students with disabilities accommodations to help them succeed.
This may include special note-taking equipment for a physical disability or extended exam time for a cognitive disability.
Other supports include Aboriginal centres where aboriginal students can touch base with aboriginal mentors and receive peer support.
More traditional supports include educational advising.
Currently, Okanagan College has eight education advisors who help students figure out which Okanagan College program would best suit their career goals.
These professionals also help students transfer from other post-secondary institutions to Okanagan College.
Along with the educational advisors, the college has at least 10 people, if not more, dedicated to helping applicants become students.
Although I may think it’s easy to apply to the college and register in a program, I know for many it can be a complex process.
Many students and parents often need help figuring out the admission processes and what the next steps are after you get accepted.
Although not all students require help from an admission advisor they are usually the most knowledgeable when a student is having difficulty figuring out the application process.
These people are really important to those students who apply to a program where applications are ranked against other students and only those with the highest grades are given a seat in the program.
They also deal with programs that have a wait lists.
These are programs with set class sizes—a finite number of students are given a seat.
Okanagan College keeps a list of students who might get in if one of the seats is vacated by a student who changes their mind.
Depending on the program these lists can change dramatically from one month to the next, which means that even if you are on a wait list you still might get into the program.
It’s in the best interests of students, parents, the government and society as a whole that any student who attends college or university graduates, and that’s why these supports are so important.
Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College.