Local high school students have an opportunity to earn university credits before they finish secondary school through a unique partnership between School District 73 and Thompson Rivers University—TRU Start.
Students can start their university journey early, and tuition-free. They experience university life while in secondary school, completing first-year courses in English, economics, psychology and sociology, or one-year certificate and diploma programs such as Early Childhood Education and Health Care Assistant.
Most of their university student classmates have no idea that the TRU Start students are still in high school.
“It feels like a normal class. The fact that people could be or are slightly older doesn’t faze me,” said Eric Wichmann, South Kamloops Secondary School (SKSS) student. Wichmann will be working towards his Bachelor of Business Administration next year and is happy to have a microeconomics and English course completed.
“All of the other students are extremely kind and the discussion is very open,” said Sa-Hali Secondary student Kamryn Klassen. “We do a lot of partner work, so it’s been great to talk to new people—who are from all over—and get to know the diverse group of students here.”
She added that she enjoys studying at the House of Learning and other beautiful locations on campus.
“My psychology class is diverse. There are a couple of TRU Start students, some students who are just a year older than me, and others who are a couple of years older,” said Noah Fischer, SKSS student. “Despite this age gap, I haven’t felt any hesitation in participating or in asking questions. I feel like I am treated as any other university student.”
“Everybody is very helpful and nice should I need assistance with something that is common knowledge to the majority of the other students on campus,” added Fischer, who will be joining the Faculty of Arts as a full-time student next year.
Most TRU Start students decide to continue their education immediately after completing the program.
“I contemplated taking a year off for travel, but instead have decided to continue on just from getting a feel of what class and campus is like,” said Sarah Olynyk, a Valleyview Secondary student who is joining the School of Business and Economics in the fall.
“Another program I have become aware of is Studying Abroad—just from being on campus. Now I can combine my desire to travel confidently knowing I want an education at the same time.”
“Thanks to TRU Start, when I go to university next year, I will have an easier time adjusting from high school to post-secondary,” said Justin DeFehr, a Valleyview Secondary student who’s currently taking English. “This program made me realize that university won’t be easy, but now I feel like I am more prepared. Overall, it has strengthened my desire to obtain a post-secondary degree.”
Sa-Hali Secondary School student Rachel Dixon took Sociology and English and was also able to join the cheerleading team.
“It helped me meet so many amazing people and now I know exactly what to expect in courses after I graduate,” said Dixon, who plans on staying at TRU in the Bachelor of Arts program next year.
“Next year I am planning to attend TRU because I think it’s a great university, I like the small classes where you actually get to know your peers and your professors,” said SKSS student, Cassidy Jean. “I know there are many great opportunities available here at TRU, and I love that I will get to stay in my hometown.”
“I would highly recommend taking advantage of the TRU Start program, there are huge benefits,” said Royden Cooke, SKSS student who will begin first-year engineering six months from now.
“We’re not just a high school kids, we decide what we want to be, adults.”
Learn more about TRU Start, the admission criteria and application process.