Still time to take tuition free ABE courses at Mal-U

December 18, 2007 - 8:04am

Thinking about going back to school?

There’s still time to apply for Malaspina University-College’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) courses which begin January 7. The best news is that ABE courses are now tuition free.

“This is fantastic for students,” said Gillian Baker, an ABE student at Malaspina’s Parksville/Qualicum campus, “especially for people on limited incomes."

ABE courses are offered in English, math, computers, science, and education and career planning.

Tony Bellavia, Malaspina's Director of Career and Academic Preparation, confirmed that starting January, 2008, a $50 commitment fee that applied to each ABE course will be eliminated thanks to a provincial government policy change.

“Our goal is to help more adult learners return to school and launch new careers,” he said. “Through ABE, we give students opportunities, encouragement and support to assist them in realizing their true potential."

Baker is a perfect example. She graduated from Malaspina’s Culinary Arts program and enjoyed a successful 12-year career working in the food service industry for the Delta hotel chain in Whistler and at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa and Resort in Parksville. “But a point came where I needed a change,” she said.

Last September, Baker quit her job as a pastry chef and returned to school. She enrolled in an ABE math 11 course at the Parksville/Qualicum Centre and surprised herself by earning top marks.

“I remember not feeling good about math in high school but ABE was different,” she said. “The instructors were helpful and friendly and encouraged students to call or email them at home if we had questions or needed extra help. It was a supportive learning environment."

Obtaining good grades boosted Baker’s self-confidence. Now in January she’s planning to take two more ABE courses (tuition free) in math 12 and computers, plus two regular first-year university courses in psychology and English.

“I’m not exactly sure where the future will lead, but I’m interested in psychology, law and mediation,” said Baker. “Right now, I love the convenience of being able to study close to home. The Parksville/Qualicum Centre is small and relaxed, so when you’ve been out of school for a long time, it’s not intimidating to go back.”

Baker also enjoys diversity in her classes and age range of classmates. “In ABE, there are people right out of high school, right up to students in their 50s,” she said. “It's a good mix. I wish more people knew about ABE, especially now that courses are tuition free. People should take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade their education."

Over 10,000 adult learners in Nanaimo and 3,500 in the Parksville/Qualicum region have successfully completed ABE since 1997. Applications are now being accepted for courses starting January 7.

For further information call (250) 248-2096 in Parksville or (250) 740-6425 in Nanaimo.


Tags: In the Community

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