North Island College now has a support program for students facing challenges.

Early Assist helps faculty and staff to identify students who may be struggling. 

The goal is to connect students to services and supports at NIC.

Director of student affairs Felicity Blaiklock said the program will cover all NIC campuses including the ones in Port Hardy, Campbell River, and Courtenay.

She added that the program was developed over the past nine months, with input from staff and faculty.

Blaiklock said that the sooner the college can connect students to supports, the sooner they can get back on track and be successful.

“The Early Assist program helps enable faculty and staff connect students to the resources they need if they notice a student is beginning to experience challenges,” she added.

Warning signs might include the quality of a student’s academic work suddenly decreasing, when a student stops attending classes regularly and/or, when a student is showing signs of being in distress. 

Once a referral is made, student services will reach out to the student to check in and offer support. 

To respect confidentiality, the faculty/staff who made the referral will be informed if contact with the student has been made, or not. 

No other details will be released.

NIC says Early Assist “is the latest addition to a wide range of support services available to students at NIC, including academic advising, financial advising, health and wellness resources, peer tutoring, writing and academic supports and counselling services.”

Also new this fall – advising and counselling appointments can now be booked online.

“Sometimes just knowing what supports are available is enough; sometimes they might need more help,” Blaiklock said. “We want students to know that we’re here to support their success.”

She said Early Assist is modeled after similar programs at UBC, Selkirk College, BCIT, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“It is a fairly well known type of program with the early recognition of students who may just need a little bit of extra support.”

Blaiklock said the program helps connect students to the many supports at NIC including Elders In Residence, to Financial Aid, to advising, to counselling, to the Department of Accessible Learning.

The key, she noted, is getting the word out to students that help is there for them if they need it.

“Of course we spend a lot of time promoting our support services to students but they’re busy studying and sometimes they don’t know what’s available and or out there to support them.” 

“This is our way of staff and faculty just identifying those students who might need some extra support and saying, ‘There’s this thing called Early Assist out there and it will give you the chance to see what supports are available to you.’”

Blaiklock said there are many stresses facing today’s post-secondary students.

“They may range from being in a new environment, the studies themselves, but many students nowadays also have families and part-time jobs… all sorts of things and we want students to be successful so whatever we can do to support their success, we’re going to do.” 

For more information on all supports available to NIC students, click here.