More than 450 high school students converged at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus Wednesday, May 3, to get a taste of the college life during Experience OC.
The annual Okanagan College (OC) event helps high school students find the field that best suits them before the big jump to post-secondary education.
The students came by the busload from the Greater Vernon, Armstrong and Lumby areas and got to choose from 37 different sessions led by college instructors, each offering a glimpse of a different OC program. The students were able to select at least three sessions to attend.
Tarunjit Jassar, operations manager for the Vernon campus, said that as the name of the event suggests, the day is all about experiencing what it feels like to be a college student.
“(It’s) just to give them a feel of what their future looks like after high school,” he said. “It’s been a very vibrant morning, we had about 10 school buses pull in and we had some cheerful students, excited students just walking down the courtyard and the hallways today.”
Among the programs students got to sample were business, arts, healthcare, early childhood education, various trades, an aircraft maintenance technician program and — unique to the Vernon campus — the aesthetics and nail tech program.
Jassar said the healthcare programs have a waitlist, but as demand is high for healthcare workers in the area and beyond, he’s hoping some students will be swayed to join the program when it comes time for them to begin their post-secondary education.
Jassar says enrolment at OC has been steady, and for the upcoming semester OC is hoping to maintain or exceed the enrolment numbers it’s had in the past.
The college has also created new programs of late, including the computer information systems program — a two-year diploma program that is open to international students and started one year ago.
Grady Barg, a Grade 10 student from Kalamalka Secondary School, took part in a few healthcare sessions and a trades session. Coming into the event, he was split between two career paths: becoming a surgeon or getting into trades.
After taking part in Experience OC, he’s now leaning towards trades, and particularly likes the idea of becoming a welder.
“It just sounds like a lot of fun, it’s working with your hands, it’s a lot less schooling — I like school but I don’t want to go for another nine years to become a surgeon,” he said.
Barg recommends Experience OC to other students.
“It was a really good experience.”
Jassar said the hope is that Experience OC will encourage local students to stay local when they reach post-secondary.
“That’s definitely one of the hopes that they choose OC and stay in the community and learn all the great courses that OC has to offer.”