The Yukon College offers a few paths towards a career – even if you don’t know what you want to do, yet.

Dibble-dabbling in classes, boning up on university-level courses, or earning a diploma to launch a career — there are a variety of ways students are using the Yukon College.

Adam Mickey, for example, is a big fan of the college. 

His path took him from Porter Creek Secondary School in 2005, to University of Toronto, where he did not enjoy the experience and quit school to work in the construction industry. Seven years later, he decided he wants to pursue a degree in engineering and is back in school — he’s now studying at the Yukon College to get ready for a degree program down South.

Comparing his classes at the college, with his experience of a very large university, he says we’re lucky to have the college in our own backyard.

“It wasn’t a very nice experience at U of T,” Mickey says. “Part of it was that it was a shock — what that aspect of academic life is like. It was very different from how high school works.”

His biology class, for example, was in a three-storey theatre with 1,200 students. 

“Especially coming from a high school of 700 kids, all of a sudden you realize that no one cares that you’re there,” Mickey says. “Coming out of high school I had a high 80s average, and I went there and did very poorly because I was overwhelmed.”

At the college, his statistics class is the biggest of the bunch, at 17 students.

“My physics class has four — including me,” he says. 

Fewer students means instructors have more time per student to spend answering questions, both during and after class.

“It allows me to not get stuck on something during the lecture,” he says. “I can ask a question, and get an answer, and carry on paying attention to the lecture.”

Now, he hopes to get accepted at the University of Alberta or British Columbia. Then he’ll be on track for a degree in engineering, with the plan of coming back to the Yukon.

“I want to be a civil engineer and give back to society in any way I can,” he says. “And as a civil engineer, they’re a part of everything — engineers build the world, pretty much.”

His advice to high school students is to take advantage of the small class sizes and accessible, professional instructors at the college — as well as the relatively low tuition fees.

“If they’re not entirely sure what path to take, the Yukon College is a great place to go — where you don’t have to spend a lot of money to figure it out,” Mickey says. “As opposed to $10 to $20 thousand dollars for the first year (at an institution like University of Toronto), you pay $330 per class at the college, and you can live at home if your parents are still nice to you.”

That’s the plan Sarah Gallo is on. 

“There’s so many options and I want to do everything and it’s hard to just pick one,” Gallo ways.

That’s why she’s at the Yukon College. She graduated from FH Collins Secondary School in 2012, and started taking a variety of courses at the college in January this year.

“My plan is to take a variety of things and pick the one I like the best and go with that,” she says. “So I’ll take paleontology or archeology and I’ll take an English course, or a writing course.”

Her parents are on board with her.

“My parents are very supportive of me trying things out,” Gallo says. 

Ultimately, she wants a degree.

“The question is, in what?” she says. “It’s a tough question.”

Matthew Ford knows what he’s interested in: mineral resources.

The question lingering in his mind — that doesn’t need to be answered for a couple of years, yet — is will he want to get a degree, eventually?

He’s on track to complete a two-year diploma program in Mineral Resources Technology from the Yukon College. His plan is to start working in mining once he’s done — and he says the prospects look good.

“There are lots of companies advertising – I just have to choose one,” Ford says.

Armed with a diploma, he’ll be looking at positions such as mineral resource technologist, survey technician, or maybe field assistant. And he’s looking at an income between $50 and $80 thousand per year.

Not too bad. 

The kinds of things he’s learning in his program are already interesting, such as how mountains are formed and the varying conditions that lead to the formation of various minerals. This knowledge can take him even further.

“You can make lots of money if you know where to find the minerals,” Ford says. “And I like being outdoors, and it’s like a treasure hunt — looking for gold or whatever mineral you’re looking for. You make a map, get investors to support you, and then you go for it.”

The college is providing him with an education that’s working for him, and he’s going for gold.