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Editor’s Note: In May and June editions of Pearson eNews, we will be sharing several video interviews with Year 45 Pearson students around the world who will be advancing to further education or volunteer opportunities, individual passion projects, homeland compulsory service or a gap year. We wish we had the bandwidth to interview every graduating student! The story below complements those interviews. Watch for a second story in June eNews. 

“So, I guess that’s part of the story,” mused Pearson College UWC Universities Counsellor Becky Halvorson during a recent video interview. “It’s about being brave, looking forward and moving forward.” 

Halvorson was specifically talking about Canadian students who have been accepted to universities and other advanced education institutions around the world but the intent of the message applies to all Pearson graduating studentsespecially during a pandemic 

“Students still have that sense of adventure and that desire to gain international experience and a greater worldliness,” by leaving their own countries. 

Each year, Halvorson, together with Academic Services and Student Records Coordinator Donna Grunder, works closely with Pearson students and universities around the world which are keen to attract UWC studentsspecifically those who attend our school by Pedder Bay. This year, more than 100 post-secondary institutions – ranging from just down the road at the University of Victoria to the University of Tasmania on the other side of the world – offered places, and often generous scholarships and financial assistance, to Pearson’s Year 45 students. 

Students, of course, make their own decisions about their educational trajectories, but the guidance and support provided by Halvorson and Grunder, strongly backed by faculty members, Vice-President of Education and Programming Heather Gross and Pearson alumni and influencers around the world, are critical in helping match the right students with the right opportunities in the right schools.  

Finding that match can be a complicated matrix that potentially encompasses, among other things academic standings, availability of specific programs of study, student and family financial capabilities (or lack thereof), the availability of scholarships and other philanthropic sources of support, the availability of visas to students from specific countries, individual preferences and, in this time of COVID-19, calculating the odds of future travel and border restrictions. 

The ripples of the pandemic are also being seen in other ways. With virtually everyone at universities also working from home and, in some cases, reduced staff levels with heavier workloads and the challenges of technical glitches when working through unfamiliar procedures, the chance of something falling through the cracks – and potentially having a greater impact on a student’s opportunities, are greater. 

But Halvorson said institutions large and small are stepping up to be amazingly responsive. She noted smaller schools, those likely more challenged by pandemic-related budget limitations and staffing challenges, showed tremendous good will in recognizing and accommodating students’ situations. Larger institutions – in Canada, the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, come to mind – are similarly acting in good faith by making the unique needs of students primary. 

“Universities have come back with a great deal of support this year, some of it rather extraordinary,” she said. There are plenty of good news stories. We very much want to support and congratulate these institutions — people are really rising to the occasion.” 

She added that years of building personal relationships between Pearson and university admission administrators and decision-makers always makes a difference, but particularly so in 2020. Halverson and Grunder were prepared to send and resend transcripts that may have been “misplaced,” pick up the phone even when the odds seem long and work the relationships built by long hours on the phone, by email and in person.  

Halvorson added that they have worked to expand the network of different institutions even further in recent years so that Pearson students are not limited in their opportunities.  

“You can’t say enough about what a difference (an opportunity like a university acceptance and/or scholarship) can make in the life of a young person.