St. Lawrence College withdrawal ‘not alarming ’
Approximately 400 students at St. Lawrence College’s three campuses have dropped out ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to withdraw and still receive a full refund without incurring an academic penalty.
The deadline comes two weeks after students at Ontario’s 24 community colleges returned to class following a five-week strike by instructors that ended Nov. 20 when they were legislated back to work by the provincial government.
“Last year, 400 withdrew by the end of the (first) semester. As of Friday, 400 have withdrawn this year,” said Glenn Vollebregt, St. Lawrence College’s president and CEO.
“The numbers are relatively similar. We’re not seeing any higher level of attrition this year.”
In terms of percentage, the attrition rate is actually lower than last year. Enrolment at St. Lawrence went up about 10 per cent this year to just over 7,000 students, compared to 6,300 last year.
“Last year, attrition was six per cent; it’s just under six per cent this year,” Vollebregt said.
Beth Insley, president and executive director of the St. Lawrence College Student Association, was encouraged that the dropout numbers weren’t significantly higher than last year.
“It’s good that they’re not alarming numbers,” she said. “Everybody should be pleased about that.
“Most of the students stayed and stuck it out. They came in September with a goal, especially the second- and third-year students closer to graduation.”
Vollebregt couldn’t say for certain what role the strike may have played in the decisions of some students to leave school.
“I can’t generalize that the strike has anything to do with those numbers,” he said. “Sometimes it’s due to personal situations or marks. Students withdraw for a number of reasons.”
Both Vollebregt and Insley are heartened by the students’ resiliency and morale after losing five weeks of schooling.
“The first week back I met with a thousand students,” Vollebregt said. “The faculty has done a tremendous job in the classroom to help the students get their year. Everyone at the college wants to help the students be successful.”
The fall term, which usually ends before Christmas, will conclude on Jan. 12. The winter semester will begin Jan. 15.
“The students are back on campus, they’re here now and they’ve said, ‘Let’s get it done,’” Insley said. “They have the ability to finish what they want to finish. There’s not an overwhelming sense of negativity or anger.”
According to the St. Lawrence College website, first-year students who voluntarily withdraw from the college by Dec. 5 will be considered fully eligible for admission in the fall of 2018 to the program from which they withdrew if they reapply by Feb. 1, 2018. If they apply after Feb. 1, they will be considered fully eligible for admission if spaces are available.
Upper-year students, in good standing, who voluntarily withdraw by Dec. 5 will be considered fully eligible for fall 2018 readmission to the program and semester from which they withdrew if they reapply by Feb. 1, 2018.