Spotlight: On Transition
How BC’s colleges support student success at secondary school and beyond.
BC’s colleges are working hard to ensure that students throughout BC have the skills and education necessary to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow. One of the ways that BC’s colleges support students is through transition or dual credit programs created through partnerships with local school districts. These programs help to prepare secondary students for post-secondary education by offering relevant programming that moves students in to the workplace faster and with the necessary skills.
BC’s colleges have seen great success with their dual credit programs. Secondary students who participate in these programs are graduating from secondary school with credentials and skills that are in demand. Graduates of transition programs are going on to work in manufacturing, hospitality, high tech, healthcare, construction and business sectors. Students of all academic levels, including those with special needs, are participating in programs with great success. Below are some examples of dual credit programs created through partnerships with colleges and local school districts in regions throughout the province.
Northern Lights College in northeastern BC has established partnerships with School Districts 59, 60 and 81, as well as Northern Opportunities, to offer dual credit programming to qualified secondary school students. The dual credit programs and courses allow students in grades 11 and 12 to gain credits towards secondary school graduation while also earning credits in a post-secondary academic course, vocational program or trade or Apprenticeship.
Dual credit programs benefits students, parents, industry, employers and communities through increased and diverse program offerings, assistance with tuition, work experience and opportunities in Apprenticeship and education that lead to rewarding careers and a skilled workforce.
Dual credit programming at NLC, and the partnerships with Northern Opportunities, has had more than 500 students participate in the first three years in 18 different courses and programs. The next phase will see the expansion of the dual credit program to include 16 university arts and science courses and vocational programs such as Early Childhood Education, health sciences, business and visual arts. As well, academic courses are being offered online through the Northern BC Distance Education School, opening dual credit options to students in other school districts throughout British Columbia.
At NLC a review of the Carpentry Foundation/Residential Construction program in School District 59 found that 93 percent of dual credit students graduated from secondary school and 84 percent continued in the construction industry with 79 percent achieving Carpentry Level 1 Apprentice status.
At Camosun College in Victoria, an innovative transition partnership has been created with local school districts in Victoria, Sooke, Saanich, the Gulf Islands and the Cowichan Valley. Called the South Island Partnership, Vancouver Island secondary students benefit from tuition free dual credit options in programs and courses offered in trades training, health and human services, business and university transfer arts and science. Since 2003 the number of students participating in the program has more than doubled. And, each year the partners offer new program options and in 2010 there were over 20 different areas to choose from. The objective is to increase future participation of grade 11 and 12 students. A target of 20% grade 12 participation in dual credit programs and courses has been set. Completion rates average at 85 percent with 39 percent of students going on to take further courses.
Some partners offer courses in secondary schools such as Camosun College’s Biology 150, which is taught at Belmont Secondary School. Michelle Choma, a Belmont Secondary teacher, delivers the theory components supported via distance learning by college biology instructor Dominic Bergeron. Students attend Camosun one evening a week to participate in the lab sessions over a 14-week period. Through this model students are exposed to the rigours of post-secondary course work and are much better prepared for their first year of post-secondary education. Many of them transition from this course into health care programs including nursing.
In the interior of BC, Okanagan College has been working closely with school district partners to create and broaden opportunities for students through a series of dual credit program offerings. These opportunities are paving the way for students to access post-secondary education and transition to the workplace earlier, while providing students with support to obtain their provincial education requirements. The number of students participating in dual credit programs at Okanagan College has increased by 292 percent in five years. Last year, 157 secondary students took part in Okanagan College’s dual credit program.
Nathan French is one of those students. He completed the residential construction foundation program at Okanagan College while in Grade 11 at Seaton Secondary. As a part of his training, Nathan helped build a not-for-profit, low-income housing development through the Home for Learning project. After completing the program, he returned to Seaton to finish the academic courses he needed to graduate. He also continued his carpentry training, earning apprenticeship workplace hours with Red Cedar Homes.
By the time he graduated, Nathan had more than a diploma – he had also gained practical, hands-on experience building a home and earned level one technical training credit for carpentry. The dual credit program provided Nathan with a solid foundation for success. He is currently apprenticing with Red Cedar Homes in Vernon.
Okanagan College has been undertaking Home for Learning Residential Construction projects since 2004. From 2006, 81 percent of the dual credit students participating have successfully completed the certificate program that leads to certification as a Residential Framing Technician and credit for Carpentry Level 1.
Dual credit programs at Okanagan College are not limited to trades training. Students can also get a head start in post-secondary programs such as Office Administration, Health Care Assistant, Nursing Unit Assistant, Education Assistant, as well as individual academic courses that suit their chosen fields of study.
At North Island College, the North Island Partnership a formal collaboration of North Island College and school districts in Port Alberni, Comox Valley, Campbell River, Vancouver Island North and Vancouver Island West, has been actively initiating dual credit programs for a diverse range of students and student interests. During the two years of the partnership’s existence, the number of programs has expanded to include Applied Business Technology, Business Administration, Tourism, Skilled Trades ranging from Aircraft Structures or Welding, pre-Nursing and University Transfer options spanning many disciplines.
Courses are available in the traditional face-to-face environment and by distance to reach students throughout the region. Enrolment has increased by nearly 1000 percent to include more than 5 percent of grade 12s in the partner school districts and some options are so popular students from outside the partnership region are applying for admission.
One such option is the ACE-IT industry-training program for high-school students in the automotive trades program at North Island College in Campbell River. Recent graduate Victoria van der Griendt completed the program in June, taking a college-level course for credit towards both her high school diploma and an apprenticeship. For Victoria, it was an easy choice to make.
“I’m so glad I did ACE-IT instead of just regular grade 12 – I’m doing something I love,” she says. “I wanted to come to school every day.” In grade 10, Victoria participated in a trades co-op program, earning credits by completing a three-week work placement at Steve Marshall Ford, changing oil and learning what she could from the veteran mechanics in the shop. “One day in grade 11 I told my guidance counselor I wanted to be a mechanic, and she told me about the ACE-IT program. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t taken it.” The unique dual-credit component of the ACE-IT program gives Victoria more choices in less time than if she were graduating with a regular high school diploma. She can continue with an apprenticeship or take another college program – or do something else entirely. “I’m certified now,” she says. “I can fix cars anywhere – because of ACE-IT, I’ll always have these skills.”
The reason transition or dual credit programs are so successful is because of the relationships created at the regional level between the colleges and the school districts. Transition coordinators working in specific regions throughout the province are able to best match the needs of local industry and business with programs offered by their local college to provide the necessary skills and education.
Transition is just one more way BC’s colleges support the future of BC’s regional economic and skills development. Colleges have a unique regional advantage allowing them to create innovative partnerships with secondary schools and industry. These partnerships have resulted in the development of relevant programming that provides BC’s youth with the education and skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow.
A future spotlight will highlight some of the innovative arrangements that have been developed between colleges and other post-secondary educational partners. All of our colleges have partnerships with other post secondary institutions that are designed to ensure smooth transition or transfer for students making BC’s transfer system the best in the country.
President, BC Colleges