As students at Grande Prairie Regional College finish up their first full week of classes, a registered provisional psychologist is in place to make sure their return to school is as smooth as possible. GPRC has hired the psychologist in training to provide mental health education to staff and students.
“She’s already been seeing students [on a counselling basis], so we’re really quite excited,” says VP of Academics and Research Susan Bansgrove. “We think that that’s so important; mental health challenges have been identified by our students, by the provincial government, by provincial students’ associations, and by the leadership of this college.”
The position is being funded out of GPRC’s base budget, but Bansgrove says they’ve applied for grants from the provincial government to expand their mental health services. The college also has a peer counselling program using trained student volunteers.
The halls of Grande Prairie Regional College are at little more crowded this year. Bansgrove says they have a little over 1,800 students enrolled in credit programming, which is up nine per cent from last year. Trades enrolment is down by roughly four per cent, but 2016 saw a bigger drop.
“We think the trades in our area are coming back, the economy is coming back. We had a smaller drop this year but we still had a drop; we’re just excited that the increase in other areas made up for that.”
Programs that have seen increases include computing science, motorcycle mechanics, and kinesiology, as well as university transfers. Bansgrove expects that due to the recession, people are looking to further their education to get back into the workforce.
GPRC has also expanded its continuing education programming for that purpose, and introduced the four-year Bachelor of Business Administration completion in partnership with SAIT.
“We’re a community institution and our job is to respond to the needs of students, industry, and the citizenry of our region,” says Bansgrove. “If citizens and industry in our region require training or trained personnel in a given area, that is our responsibility.”
The college has found that graduates from their degree-hosted programs find jobs in the region, while those who leave to finish their education create a life elsewhere.
Other than studying hard, Bansgrove encourages all students to get involved in clubs, the students’ association and sports teams event in order to enrich their experience.