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Starting at college a smart move for B.C. students

Posted on April 28, 2016

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Daniel Dubois was headed for university to play basketball when he was sidelined by a motorcycle crash that nearly shattered his ankle in Grade 12. Instead of university and basketball, he found himself backpacking around Australia. When he got back, he registered for Langara, which turned out to be a great stepping stone for him — one that ultimately led him back to university and basketball. 

Colleges in B.C. are not just stepping stones, they offer a way for students to stay closer to home, save money and study in smaller classes, while working toward the same degree they would earn if they went directly to university. Not only that, but it’s easier to get in. 

While the University of British Columbia requires at least an A average to get accepted, Langara takes anyone with a Dogwood graduation certificate and Vancouver Community College accepts everyone.

Sara Osman, 19, was able to get in at the last minute to the VCC engineering program, which will launch her straight into second-year engineering at Simon Fraser University next year. She grew up in Lebanon and wasn’t in Canada in time to apply directly to university. But when she arrived last September she found out there was a space at VCC and jumped right in. Even though she was two weeks late starting the program, she has maintained a 3.7 grade point average. 

“The instructors really helped me and they gave me a chance to catch up,” Osman said. “I think (VCC) is a really good choice.” 

At VCC, the largest class has 40 students, said Kathryn McNaughton, VCC’s vice-president academic, students and research. At Langara, classes range in size from 20 students to no more than 40 students, said Ian Humphreys, Langara’s new Provost and vice-president of academic and students. 

“Occasionally, you will get the odd double section of 80 students. In science disciplines, we will have classes of 32, so students get really good exposure to the instructors,” Humphreys said. 

Langara is focused on teaching and learning, not research, Humphreys said. 

“University transfer is what we do. It’s our bread and butter, which is giving kids the skills they need to be successful when they transfer to university,” Humphreys said.

B.C. has an integrated system of colleges and universities, one that is specifically designed to allow for transferability. This means students have more flexibility in B.C. than anywhere else in the country, said Andrew Arida, UBC’s director of undergraduate admissions, enrolment services. Alberta also has a thorough transfer system, but other provinces do not. 

Both Osman and Dubois said college was a good transition and it certainly didn’t hurt that they saved about half on their tuition fees. At VCC, tuition is $86 per credit. At Langara, it’s $92. At UBC or SFU it’s more than $165 per credit. 

Keep reading the original article in the Vancouver Sun

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Interested in earning first-year university credits in small, flexible, and affordable classes at VCC? Read more about our university transfer programs or attend an upcoming info session.