St. Lawrence Col­lege with­drawal ‘not alarm­ing ’

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE NOR­RIS

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.

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