News and Events

Life choices begin early

February 27, 2014

Written by Mark Keller, director of college advancement
Featured in"On Campus" in the Medicine Hat News

Exams, essays and tests are all part of life on campus so it seems fair to share a pop quiz with readers of the Medicine Hat News. This will be one of those easy, open-book, multiple choice efforts. Ready?

The most common reason students cite when they leave Medicine Hat College without graduating is:

  1. They located the campus pub but lost track of the classrooms.
  2. They forgot to pay tuition.
  3. They didn’t quite fit the program they entered.
  4. They got a great job before graduating.

These are all plausible answers of course, but at MHC the correct answer is “C,” the most commonly noted reason students provide when they leave a program before completing is a change in career plans and goals.

When you think about it, this makes a lot of sense.

The whole purpose of going to college is to develop skills and knowledge designed to help you achieve your personal version of success. Along the way you will learn far more detail about the career possibility you’ve envisioned. You’ll also learn more about your own traits, preferences and abilities.

It could be, probably even should be, considered a learning success when students discover that there’s a mismatch between themselves and the program they’ve selected. This isn’t ‘dropping out’ with the negative connotations that come with that term.

Life progress is being made, even if that progress is eliminating one option from the list of possibilities.

To be realistic though, actually enrolling in a program, paying tuition, going to class, doing assignments and then discovering that you and the career don’t quite match is an expensive way of learning.

I can validate that myself. Right after high school I completed a college aviation program which was challenging, intriguing and in many ways rewarding. But my desire to bring a book along to break the monotony of long flights to build experience was a bit of a warning sign. I like the technology and enjoy flying, but it still isn’t quite right for me as a career.

The challenges for students and the college are to recognize that career change will be a part of the experience for some students, and take advantage of the learning opportunities we offer. The college is in a position to help.

There is a dedicated group of people on campus called Academic Advisors who are always ready to help prospective and current students find their way. For some, the help they offer comes in the form of navigating the transfer system so that courses taken here count toward a program someplace else.  For others there may be a more detailed look at self and career possibilities. Even before going to college.

When your career focus is a bit fuzzier than you’d like, your college can help. or @mark_mhc on Twitter.

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