The purpose of an articulation agreement between a community college and a university is to provide graduates with further opportunities for study even after they have finished a diploma program. It would be no surprise then, that Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) has been tirelessly working with universities in Nova Scotia to work more of their diploma programs into the beginnings of a degree. The benefit to NSCC is that they can increase the appeal of their programs by attracting students who might have been considering going to university first, and instead allowing them to get many of the first two years of courses at a fraction of the price. The universities benefit from increased enrollment in their undergraduate programs. However, I would argue that largest benefactor of these agreements is certainly the students themselves.
To me, articulation agreements are important not just because I am a student leader, but because I could have benefited from one myself. Graduating high school, my parents pushed me towards NSCC; however wanting to become an engineer, I thought that NSCC was not an option. Articulated programs allow students to test out what programs of study they may like at a fraction of the risk. I studied Engineering for 2 years before I learned that it was less hands on then I might have liked, and it was much more mathematically focused then I was ready for. Those two years leading to a dropout was a large financial loss for me, and to this day I wonder how it might have been avoided.
Most Nova Scotia students know that Community College is a less expensive option when compared with studying at a university. There are also more community college campuses around some of the lesser-populated parts of the province that can provide students with an education closer to home. This gives students the opportunity to study a two-year diploma program at a fraction of the cost, especially when you take living expenses into consideration. If students complete their first year and decide they don’t want to be a technician, and instead want to try their hand as a nurse, the amount of financial investment is much lower and less damaging. In a world where students seem to be evermore uncertain of what they want to do for the rest of their lives, giving students a lower risk option, which can still lead to a degree, is what I believe will benefit both students and institutions. While part of my job as the President of the Kingstec NSCC Student Association is to advocate for college programs, this is also an argument for all post-secondary institutions to collaborate more to create and advertise articulation agreements to students.
The importance of articulation agreements is that it would have allowed my high school self to learn what working with electronics meant before I was expected to perform advanced analysis on them. Every “star” engineering student I knew in university came from a technician background, this despite not receiving any sort of articulation for their college diploma. They were much more capable because they learned to walk before they were expected to run. Students need to know that there’s options out there that lets them learn and try without having to feel over invested and fearing failure.
Justin Jamieson is the president of the Kingstec NSCC student association. He is currently enrolled in their electronics technician program entering his second year. Justin is a devoted 4H member outside of school with 12 years experience in everything the organization has to offer. He has a passion for Nova Scotia, born and raised in the province. Justin is excited for the year to come!