Selkirk Staff discuss their survival strategies from back in the day . . . . . .

iphone 016The Selkirk Retention Committee has a mandate to figure out how best to help students be successful and meet their personal iphone 017and 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.mind map
  • 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.”

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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!

Continue this discussion in the comments below:

What factors have been important in helping you move towards your educational and personal goals? 

What can Selkirk staff and faculty do to support people in being successful and having a great experience at Selkirk?



3 responses to “Selkirk Staff discuss their survival strategies from back in the day . . . . . .

  1. Thanks for hostessing this discussion Jane! For my learning, application was always super important. I loved Selkirk College instructor Harry Juke’s Chemistry class because he applied our learning to then recent chemical spill at Bhopal. Later when I was studying at SFU many of my school projects served as opportunities to deepen my communications consulting work, i.e. you don’t often get paid to go deep in consulting : . ). For example my Honours project was on cross cultural communication through new media. At the time I was working in the high arctic on building a visitor/cultural centre. Always applying to the real world helped me feel like my studies were worthwhile.

  2. Great reflections Theresa. I also had a wonderful environmental studies instructor who taught us facilitation skills that included deep dialogue and facilitation skills. He encouraged us to develop and run environmental simulation games at a mining reclamation conference and we facilitated pivotal meetings in Vancouver with some of the original pioneers (Paul Watson, Paul George, Collen McRory, Gudjaw) that saved Valhalla, Clayaquot, Haida Gwai. We learned so much and it truly changed our lives being given those opportunities.

    (p.s. I met Harry Jukes son Dale at youth leadership conferences in the Okanagan and I remember him saying his Dad taught at Selkirk)

  3. That’s a great question for reflection… When I think about what kept me engaged and retained as a student a couple things come to mind:
    -the big picture of getting a degree to find a career role I would be happy with was a big intrinsic motivator for me
    -the close group of friends I had in my classes kept me engaged and feeling supported
    -the common experience of going through university with other friends was a bonding factor
    -I always wanted to live up to my older brother, so had to work hard to be as successful as he was!

    Neat that you were able to participate in this discussion over lunch with other instructors. It would be great to have some focus group discussions with students to ask this same question, and maybe to ask this question to students who did not complete their studies to see what would have helped to retain them to finish their program.

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