20 U.S. independent school counsellors welcomed to BC
From April 24–27, 2016, BCCIE led a familiarization tour for ACCIS, a professional organization of U.S. college counsellors at independent high schools. It was BC’s first time hosting such a diversity of US counsellors, representing over 15 states—from Hawaii to New Hampshire; New Mexico to Minnesota.
The tour consisted of site visits to six BC post-secondary institutions, including:
- Emily Carr University of Art + Design
- Quest University
- Simon Fraser University
- UBC Okanagan Campus
- UBC Vancouver Campus
- Vancouver Film School
BCCIE has a track record of success in hosting similar tours in BC for U.S. counsellors, but this is the first time a tour was coordinated for ACCIS.
The primary objective of the tour was to provide a substantial overview and hands-on experience of BC’s post-secondary education system to a select cohort of US counsellors. The tour was designed so the counsellors could better inform their students about the advantages of BC's educational system.
Mary Hill has been a counsellor at St. Paul Academy and Summit School in Minneapolis for 16 years. She said familiarization tours are pivotal to helping educators, counsellors, students and families understand BC's brand.
"I had assumptions that Okanagan would be very rural, but when I arrived, I saw it could be perfect for students who enjoy the outdoors. BC combines an appealing setting with a high-quality education system. U.S. students are drawn to BC because they are looking for new options – affordable education with quality comparable to that back home."
Paul Hays from Bentley School in Oakland said "The Lower Mainland offers students cultural diversity similar to that at home and connectedness to the natural landscape."
Others commented that the mild climate in BC ran counter to their perceptions of Canadian weather.
"I accidentally packed my sunglasses, which turned out to be a good thing," one participant added.
The U.S. is BC's ninth largest source market for international students, with 2,900 students attending BC institutions in 2013/14, a 16% growth from 2010.
Increasing enrolment of international students from key markets is one objective of the Provincial International Education Strategy. U.S. students choose BC for a host of reasons, including quality of education, lower tuition, safety, and outdoor recreation. Regionalism also comes into play: For students from the Pacific Northwest, BC may feel more like home than the Eastern U.S.