New Yukon College program aims to get struggling students back on track

Yukon College is launching a new program to help students struggling to keep their grades up and stay in school.

Yukon College is launching a new program to help students struggling to keep their grades up and stay in school.

The college estimates about 10 per cent of its students are either on academic probation or facing academic dismissal. That means their grades have dropped low enough that they run the risk of being kicked out of school.

Under the college’s new Reboot program, starting in September, students will get another chance to bring their grades up to passing before they’re forced to leave.

“When you’re struggling there can still be stigma in asking for help and saying ‘I have to go to the Learning Assistance Centre,’” said college registrar Jennifer Moorlag.

“But we’re trying to move away from that and really de-stigmatize what it means to ask for help.”

At Yukon College, a student who achieves a grade point average under 2.0 is placed on academic probation. That means they have one term to bring their grades up or face academic dismissal. Dismissed students are suspended for up to a year and have to request permission to come back to school.

Under the new program, students slated to be dismissed, who want one more chance to stay, must spend a term taking the free Reboot class and up to three academic courses. Students on probation have the option of taking the course.

Modelled after similar courses in the South, some Reboot classes are taken as a group, Moorlag said.

“They’ll be taking some workshops around study skills, time management, exam anxiety, etc.”

Each student will also get an individualized plan from the Learning Assistance Centre. The idea is to “drill down” to the root cause of academic trouble, Moorlag said. That could mean personal or financial issues or something in a student’s daily life like difficulty finding child care.

“When it’s a non-academic challenge, you’re busy dealing with that. Maybe you just stopped coming to class and you don’t even know what supports are available. You didn’t ask, you don’t know, nobody has offered.”

Staff at the learning centre will be able to connect students with services in the community, she said.

The team will also be able to help students with undiagnosed learning disabilities.

Until this program students who have been academically dismissed have never been asked why they ended up not being able to finish school, Moorlag said.

“Students are given an opportunity to seek supports and if they choose to not do that and they don’t bring their GPA up, then they’re just not at the institution.”

As it stands, it’s hard to know how the college’s rate of students who are dismissed compares to other schools around the country.

“It’s not something you put on the front page of your website,” Moorlag said.

By the end of the Reboot program students have to bring their grades back into good standing if they want to stay at the college.

“It’s really important that we say that there is academic rigour that’s required, you have to meet a certain grade,” Moorlag said.

“For us to have any integrity as an instituion, students have to be able to perform academically.”

The registrar said she expects about 10 people to sign up for the first Reboot classes. From there, a “win” is having about 30 per cent of the class pull themselves back into good standing.

“We’re already talking about a group that’s at pretty high risk,” she said. “If we have modest goals the first year then we’re really able to assess what that’s going to look like.”

The registration deadline for the Reboot pilot program is Sept. 6. The program is free and can be taken by current students as well as any student who has been academically dismissed from Yukon College in the past. Interested students are asked to contact the Learning Assistance Centre at 867 456-8629.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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