NWCC president Ken Burt speaks during a reception at the Prince Rupert NWCC campus on Thursday evening.

NWCC president Ken Burt speaks during a reception at the Prince Rupert NWCC campus on Thursday evening.

College executives discuss importance of NWCC

Herb Pond and Ken Burt outlined the numerous benefits of sending a secondary school student, or an adult to NWCC

Northwest Community College Board of Governors and president and CEO Ken Burt sent a loud and clear message to students, parents and community leaders of Northwest B.C. at its food and drink reception last Thursday evening: Don’t take the college in your own backyard for granted.

As Northwest Community College (NWCC) prepared for its year-end board meeting held in Prince Rupert last Friday, board chair Herb Pond and president and CEO Ken Burt outlined the numerous benefits of sending a graduating secondary school student, or an adult continuing education to NWCC.

“We want to connect with the community. We want to make sure that students, parents and leaders in the community don’t see a local college as a second choice, but rather it should be high, high on the list, if not the very first consideration,” said Pond.

Topping the reasons for attending NWCC or an area college president Burt explained, is the benefits a younger student might receive while attending NWCC for their first or second year of post-secondary and then moving on to a university elsewhere.

“We provide a great gateway into the academic world … we do know students who begin their academic journey at a community college in British Columbia actually perform better in university than students who go direct entry,” said Burt.

“They graduate quicker, they have better retention, they have better scores, better grades along the way and they actually do it cheaper because they can live at home for the first one or two years.”

Pond added that his own experiences in post-secondary helped give him perspective on his opinions on the matter.

“In my first year science, I was dumped in classes of three or 400 and nobody knew my name, nobody cared whether I got my assignments done and some kids have the self-discipline to pull that off, but lots don’t. So community college is a much more intimate learning environment, there’s access to all the learning that you would get in your first year or second year and then of course, there’s the trade side of the equation as well and skills upgrading,” Pond added.

The board travels to all their meetings – four or five each year, a reduced drop from 10 in previous years due to redundant scheduling – to each of their campuses spread out across the region. It includes members originating from Haida Gwaii all the way to Houston and they’ve held a reception in each campus.

“We have an opportunity for board members to meet with their community leaders and the administration of the college and so you’ll see that it’s a mixture of people here. The idea is to just reconnect the college with each of our communities. It’s been pretty successful,” said Burt.