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Okanagan College starts new year with new semester

The college will see more that 21,000 students attend classes this year

At a time when many are making resolutions to hit the gym, a pair of Okanagan College students are sharing their thoughts on why hitting the books in January may be even more life-changing.

Okanagan College is preparing for another intake of new students for the winter semester starting in January, which often includes mature students and those returning from a break or travel abroad.

Last year, Connor Welsh was one of those students who seized the new year to kick-start his education as the timing would allow him to continue to lend a hand with the family business.

“I started in January because I found it worked better for my schedule,” said Welsh, whose family owns Country Camping Leisure Products and works long hours during the peak tourist season. “In the summer months, I’m often working the most during the year. That’s when I have the longest hours and am the busiest, so studying in the off-season is better.”

Fast forward to this January, and Welsh finds himself with just one course left to go. He says the college’s small class sizes and personal approach have been critical to his progress, and inspired him to consider additional business education as well.

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“From the moment I took a step through the doors, the staff were focused on what I needed to succeed and move forward,” Welsh said. “It is such a friendly atmosphere, the quality of the education is great, the classroom experience is good because people want to be there, and the instructors care about your learning.”

This year, the College will see more than 21,000 learners attend – the equivalent of more than 8,745 full-time students – at its campuses from the Shuswap to the South Okanagan.

The 2018 British Columbia Labour Market Outlooks predicts 903,000 job openings in the province between now and 2028, with nearly 80 percent requiring workers with some form of post-secondary education.

Welsh also points that flexibility in being able to transfer his education was also a draw to start at the college – a statement echoed by one his peers at the Salmon Arm campus.

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Blake Lewis, a recent Ike Barber Transfer Scholarship recipient working towards a bachelor’s degree in education, said starting in January helped him fast-track his academic studies.

“I started in the winter semester because I wanted to make up the time on my studies,” said Lewis. “It was a hard decision to switch from full-time employment and give up that certainty to become a student, but I think it was worth it.”

The college recently launched a new tool to help students more easily explore programs starting soon at OC campuses. Would-be students can learn more at www.okanagan.bc.ca/startnow.

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