Muskens: Consider the end, not the start, when switching colleges

You may be surprised how many college and university students move from one school to another.

You may, or you may not be surprised about how many college and university students move from one school to another.

Two weeks ago, under the Student Transition Project, the government published a report which showed just how much movement there is between the B.C. colleges and universities.

This data looked at students moving from credit-based programs to similar credit-based programs; in other words, it paints a picture of students transferring credits between institutions.

Although most of us who work with students know just how often their plans can change, some of the data that came out of this report was quite an eye opener, even for someone like me.

For example, most of us think that students who are accepted to a large research university right out of high school are probably there until they graduate.

This is because entering a large B.C. research university straight from high school often requires much higher secondary grades and frequently students compete for seats based on these grades.

In B.C., these universities are UBC, UVic, SFU and UNBC. The teaching universities (Thompson Rivers, Kwantlen Polytechnic, the University of the Fraser Valley, Capilano and Vancouver Island) have more varied admission requirements as they offer a wide variety of programs from certificates to master’s degree.

What the student transition project showed us is from the school year of 2007/08 to 2008/09 there were 3,300 students who left one of B.C.’s large research universities and moved to a community college or BCIT.

Why is this number so interesting?

Because for years community colleges were seen as a bridge between high school and university; many students who couldn’t get into the research universities, usually because of grades, started at a community college and later transferred in.

It was rare to see someone transfer from a university to a college. Even though I have met some of these students, I didn’t realize there were so many.

This doesn’t mean that students don’t still transfer from a college to a university. During the same time more than 4,000 community college students transferred to a research university and another 2,300 transferred to one of the teaching universities. A total of 2,400 students transferred from teaching universities to research universities where another 1,500 students went in the opposite direction.

So what does this tell us? Simply put, students don’t always know where they want to be and what they want, and will move around to access the program or community that works for them regardless of the school.

It also tells us that just because you are academically capable of entering university right out of high school, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research all your options.

Right now in B.C. you can enroll in hundreds of different programs—you shouldn’t base your decision entirely on type (or name) of school.

Your decision should really come down to the end of the journey, not the beginning, which includes taking a hard look at the way you want to spend your working day.

Some people like to work with others, some would rather spend their time working alone, while others want active jobs where they travel and move around.

Believe it or not there are also those people who are more content with going to the same place every day and spending their time in front of a computer.

Based on these questions you need to find a program that interests you instead of looking at just one college or university.



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