Adult Basic Education studying and laughing

5 things you may not know about VIU’s Adult Basic Education program

July 15, 2021
Author: Eric Zimmer

Clearing up some misconceptions around ABE

“If you have an academic goal you want to achieve, we’ll get you there.”

That’s the simple and straightforward message from Jean Maltesen, Dean of Academic and Career Preparation, for those who enroll in VIU’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) Program.

And while the message may be simple enough, there are numerous ways it can be tailored to help individual students pursue their educational journey.

But who is ABE for? What are some common misconceptions? And what are the benefits of considering ABE in the first place?

Here are five things you may not know about VIU’s Adult Basic Education program:

Free tuition, no application fees

Yes, you read that right. “ABE does not have any tuition or application fees,” says Jean. The only fees students in the program pay are student activity fees, student society fees and student services fees, which works out to approximately $100. However, grants are available to those making less than $26,000 a year, which allows for things like books, bus passes and childcare to be paid for. Oh, and when a person leaves the ABE program? “We also have awards, bursaries and scholarships that can support them as well when they go on to other VIU programs,” says Jean. “Students come here, get their upgrading done, and when they leave we sometimes provide additional funding for their next step.”

It’s not either/or

While many people might think the ABE program is simply just another gateway into university, Jean says this is not the case. “We have a lot of students who are doing ABE while they’re doing university courses, so it’s not a linear progression – it’s simultaneous,” she says. Students “can be doing [ABE] courses while taking university courses.” For example, students will sometimes change their majors partway through their program, and they may need to pick up a prerequisite for courses in their newly chosen program. They can do this while still enrolled in their other university courses.

It’s not just about a high school diploma

Jean says another common myth is that students need their high school diploma to get into university, that the ABE program is a mirror image of what’s required to graduate from high school, and that the course load is the same. Rather, students usually take “only the courses for the programs that they’re going into.” Essentially, ABE courses “can be tailored specifically to help the students fulfill the specific entry requirement of the program they’re hoping to get in to, and we use that for their high school diploma if that’s something they want to achieve.” And while students are on a first-name basis with teachers and “it’s almost more of a colleague relationship,” the ultimate goal is to get students in and out of the program and on their way in the most efficient and straightforward way possible. “We don’t make students stay in ABE longer than they need to,” says Jean. “The goal is to get them moving as quickly as possible.”

There are multiple intake periods every year

Feel like going back to school in the fall? Winter? How about the spring? With the ABE program, the choice is yours, as the program offers three intake periods throughout the year – specifically September, January and April. Even still, the program isn’t limited to these time periods. There’s also “continuous intake courses – which are a little more self-directed, and other courses that are completely online; we are trying to offer as many delivery modes as possible to meet the needs of our learners,” says Jean.

There’s no “right age” for ABE

By design, the ABE program helps those who want to further their education, no matter what stage they may be at in life. “We do get lots of younger students who are either picking up a course because they didn’t do it in high school, or they want a better grade because it’s a competitive program that they’re trying to get into,” says Jean. However, there’s also plenty of room and opportunity for those in older age brackets as well, and who may be unsure about going back to school in the first place. And for adult learners who had difficulty in high school in particular, “confidence is often an issue,” says Jean. “That’s one of the first things we work on, and we will help them be successful –if they want to complete high school equivalency courses for whatever reason, we’ll get them there.”

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