The Selkirk Retention Committee has a mandate to figure out how best to help students be successful and meet their personal and educational goals in our programs. Recently we met for a day of review of last year’s initiatives and to plan directions for next year. Over lunch at Boston Pizza, the wonderful Jane Green, instructor from the CCSW program, asked us what had “retained us” or kept us going when we were students.
Wow, did that question open a rich and animated discussion as we reflected on our personal educational journeys.
Here are a few of the themes that emerged:
- Many of us mentioned that it wasn’t the classes that kept us engaged nearly as much as the extra-curricular activities (sports, outdoor clubs, singing groups, protest marches, residence activities etc.). It tended to be the experiential times of meeting people, doing things and being involved in real-life learning that are the parts of our post-secondary education that we most remember.
- Some said that parental pressure or expectations had got them there, but that then they had to find their own motivation to be successful.
- One person (no names mentioned!) said that she dropped out of college three times and it wasn’t until she needed qualifications and had her own intrinsic purpose to be there that she could apply herself and be successful.
- Another person said that she went through college as a full time working Mom in order to prove she could do it after someone had made a disparaging comment about her willingness to learn and improve herself.
- Many of us said that some of our most challenging experiences were also the ones that taught us a lot about ourselves. There was definitely some “trial and error” in how we learned about organizational and study skills. Figuring out personal health, balance and “moderation” was navigated differently by different people, but everyone recognized that to some extent we needed to have relatively healthy bodies and minds to make it through our programs.
- Meeting new friends and just figuring out how to live with people and run a household was an important part of our post secondary experience.
- Some of us had exceptional instructors that had rocked our world with new ideas or experiences or had given us encouragement or strategies at key moments.
- Transformative learning experiences happened when we found courses and people (instructors and class mates) that connected with our own passions and helped us see what we could contribute to the world.
- Some people said that going back to school as more mature students they were focused on moving towards a particular employment goal and at that point they just “tucked in and made it happen.”
Thanks Jane for igniting such an interesting discussion and helping us get to know each other better. You and Randall will be so missed on this committee!