Students 'test drive' NSCC programs

Nova Scotia Community College allows prospective students to sample programs

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NSCC’s test drive program helped convince April Lawrence that the college’s nursing program was right for her. Photo: Nicholas Mercer

April Lawrence wanted to know if a post-secondary program was right for her. Nova Scotia Community College's test drive program allows prospective students like her to find out.

Participants get the chance to experience life as a college student. They can speak with professors and students about day-to-day life in the program. They find out what would be expected of them, what the faculty is like and how much work they can expect outside the classroom - exactly what Lawrence wanted to know before choosing a program of study.

"I feel like it is important to know if I like the program before I make a final decision," she says. "I've been in programs before, realizing a week in that it wasn't what I wanted to do."

Lawrence, a mature student, has been out of high school for four years and has tried university. "It wasn't for me," she says. When she first started at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, she quickly found that she needed something different from what Memorial was offering.

Lawrence was at a party with her cousin when she overheard that the college was trying to attract career-driven students. "Before I moved up here, I actually applied at NSCC, hoping to do nursing," Lawrence says, "I received conditional acceptance but didn't follow up on it."

When she heard about the test drive program, she thought again of pursuing a career in nursing.

"I don't have money to waste on tuition if I don't like the program," says Lawrence. "It's important that I have an idea of how the program works and how the instructors are as people. I can make an informed decision on my future and not have to waste any money on a program I may or may not enjoy."

Popular program

Kesa Munroe-Anderson, test drive co-ordinator at the college's waterfront campus in Dartmouth, says high demand prompted a switch to information sessions, which are offered twice a month.

She says prospective students can go for a full or half day. They are assigned to student ambassadors, who are in the program and take them around to classrooms and give them an opportunity to talk to instructors in a question-and-answer format.

The college's Pictou campus still offers the traditional test drive program. Other campuses have been faced with such a positive response that they have added information sessions along with the test drive program.

Other colleges have adopted similar programs. The College of the North Atlantic in Newfoundland and Labrador, for instance, offers a college day. Students can do a campus tour, attend lab demonstrations and meet instructors.

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