There are dozens of ways that Medicine Hat College might choose to measure progress.
We could count the number of people taking courses, we call that the ‘headcount’ by the way, then run that number through a few calculations to determine the full load equivalent (FLE). That number tells us how many hypothetical students there would be here if everyone had a full-time schedule.
If we're happy to keep counting, we could look at the grants we receive or the dollars we spend and how we spend them. Alternatively we could decide that the number of graduates matters most. Or maybe it ought to be the number of grads that get jobs, or students that transfer credit to other schools to earn degrees there.
All good stuff but I ran across a measure of sorts last week that made me say, “Wow.”
A faculty member sent me a simple list of student names matched with a single line saying what they were doing. Among the twenty or so names, my eye caught someone who is now a third year nursing student, and another person currently employed in environmental assessment out of Lethbridge. There’s a millwright, a massage therapy student, a social worker, and a person who is just beginning a program to be a medical lab technologist.
What makes this list special, even stunning, is that each of the students entered MHC in the Adult Basic Education program. Classes there are designed for adults aiming to begin post-secondary studies, but who lack the high school background to enter a program directly.
Studies begin at grade nine levels, if necessary.
The “wow” comes when I consider the progress these people have made and the life stories that come to class with each student. The chances are these people didn’t have the best experience when they were in junior or senior high. Maybe they didn’t know then the potential they demonstrate today. Maybe they didn’t or couldn’t finish high school in their teens.
Whatever the real stories may be, I can’t help but be impressed with people who gather the will and energy to take charge of their lives and work hard -- very hard, I’m sure -- to achieve their dreams and goals.
It’s also stories like these that make a college a special asset in any community. Yes, the college can be measured by numbers and degrees and diplomas and certificates and budgets, but what makes us different is the success of students who look to the future and work hard to write a life story for themselves and their families.
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