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'Reboot camp' offers struggling college students a second chance

Article and Photo from CBC News

Posted on: Jul 18, 2016

Yukon College is trying out a new way to help students, whose grades are badly slumping — a "reboot camp", to get their studies back on track.

"Students might be struggling academically for a host of reasons," said Jennifer Moorlag, the College's registrar.

"What we're looking at is working with each student individually and saying, okay, what's going on for you right now?"

The "camp" is actually a course of study that a student follows during an academic semester, concurrent with other courses in their program. The first one begins in September.

It's mandatory for students facing academic dismissal, giving them one last chance to improve their grades before being sent packing.

For students on academic probation — those whose grade point average (GPA) is below 2.0 — it's considered voluntary.

'What do I do now?'

According to the College, just over 10 per cent of this fall's students are on academic probation or facing dismissal. Moorlag is not sure how that compares to other institutions.

"People aren't really excited about releasing those kinds of numbers," she said.

The "reboot camp" might help a student improve their study skills or better manage their time. Personal counselors with the Learning Assistance Centre will also help students better understand their own needs or challenges.

Some students discover they have a learning disability when they begin post-secondary education, Moorlag said. Other students find out they're simply in the wrong program.

"You think, growing up your whole life, 'I want to be a ...whatever'. And you get there, and you go, 'holy mackerel, what do I do now?'

"Sometime people don't know why they're struggling."

Upholding academic rigor

Moorlag said similar programs have proven successful elsewhere in the country. She said if the College can help even a third of its struggling students get back on track, it will be worthwhile.

"As an academic institution, we have to uphold the academic rigour of what we do. 

"But at the same time, there are institutions across the country ... that are looking at, 'how do we actually impact students and help students who are struggling?'"

The College is also introducing an "academic success boot camp" next month, for any student beginning post-secondary education this fall, whether at Yukon College or elsewhere.

It's a short series of evening workshops on things such as time management, handling stress and preparing for exams — "getting back in the groove, as it were," Moorlag said.