Three students chat around a table outside

Making post-secondary an option for all

August 11, 2022
Author: Roberta Jenkins

New program helps students overcome barriers

Everyone deserves a rewarding career that pays well and makes them happy. For many people, the path to that career includes university education – a path that may seem out of reach to some. Maybe they didn’t do well in high school. Maybe they face language barriers. Maybe they get overwhelmed by the thought of managing post-secondary education. Maybe they worry that they won’t be motivated to complete a program.

At VIU, we strive to make post-secondary education accessible to everyone. We recently launched a free program called Pathways to Post-Secondary that will make it easier for people to attend VIU. This program is for anyone who is missing prerequisite classes they need to enter a professional program at the university. Here’s how it works:

Your Pathways coordinator

When you apply for a program at VIU you can also opt into Pathways. Once you’re in Pathways, you’ll be assigned a coordinator like me who will walk beside you on your path to success.

Your supportive coordinator is there to listen to you and get you the help you need. They work with you to set up a personalized learning plan, encourage and motivate you, and help you develop strategies to get around obstacles in your path. 

Upgrading options

As a part of Pathways, your upgrading coursework will prepare you for the job you want. Let’s say you’re on a path toward becoming a dental assistant and you need to upgrade your math. Your math course will include the kinds of math problems a dental assistant will need to solve. This helps you build skills you’ll use in your post-secondary program and in your chosen career.

Community and networking

You’ll be part of a “learning pod” and work alongside students with similar goals. We’ll also connect you with instructors in the program you’re planning to attend. This gives you a chance to develop a rapport with the faculty, making for an easier transition into the program. We’ll also introduce you to industry professionals working in the field you want to work in. You’ll have opportunities to work on special projects with them and learn about positions you can work toward.

Skill building

Our goal is to see you succeed. Pathways offers more than just coursework. We’ll help with the life skills that will allow you to balance your studies with self-care and wellness activities.

Who qualifies for Pathways

Pathways is available to any student enrolled in an Adult Basic Education course or an English as a Second Language course.

The program is designed to help students succeed in these professional programs:

  • Health Care:
    • Dental Assistant
    • Dental Hygiene
    • Nursing (LPN, BSN)
    • Health Care Assistant
  • Early Childhood Education and Care
  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Information Technology and Applied Systems

Pathways courses are available online or in-person at the Nanaimo, Cowichan and Powell River campuses. To be eligible for Pathways you must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a refugee.

As a Pathways coordinator, I want every student I work with to thrive in their chosen field. I want them to feel welcome at VIU, and I want them to know they’ll get support every step of the way. If you are ready to step on the path to a better job and feel you’d benefit from extra supports, join Pathways and set yourself up for success.   


Roberta Jenkins is coordinator of the Pathways to Post-Secondary Programs at VIU. To learn more, email her at

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