More than a piece of paper

What having a diploma from SAIT means

AThe SAIT diploma ONLINE COLOURIf you’re reading this, it means you’ve made the right decision in terms of your education.

Whether this is your first semester at SAIT or your last, it’s no question that something has brought you here, and it’s our school’s reputation.

Throughout my time at SAIT, I’ve heard from numerous people who, admittedly, know little about what SAIT is, that have suggested a university would be a better route for anyone not looking to pursue a trades program. But this is no more than a misconception.

If you’re studying a profession at SAIT that isn’t directly related to a trade, such as information and communications technologies, like us at The Weal, you’ve likely heard similar things as I have, that SAIT is only for apprentices. And that is simply wrong.

In fact, SAIT is well-known in western Canada for its non-apprenticeship programs, such as the school’s aforementioned information and communication technology programs, some of which boast over 90 per cent employment rates, or the emergency medical technician course, with an 87 per cent graduate employment rate.

According to Chris Gerritsen, SAIT’s spokesperson, SAIT serves nearly 50,000 students, with only 17 per cent of those— roughly 8,500 people—in apprenticeship programs.

“The key here is, through our close ties with business and industry, we prepare students to be career-ready when they graduate. SAIT is a global leader in applied education and our diverse programming runs the gamut with certificates, diplomas, apprenticeships and degrees,” said Gerritsen.

“We are quite proud to support trades of all kinds, including the trade you wish to get into.”

So, if you’ve recently entered a non-apprenticeship program at SAIT, don’t let the opinions of any naysayers get you down. The fact of the matter is that although SAIT was once a trades-only school, that is no longer the case.

“When I was in school, it was a trades school,” said Sissel Fjellstad, who began studying in the general drafting program, which no longer is offered, in 1968.

Although she didn’t complete her program on the same schedule as her peers, she was offered a job in her field while studying and later went on to receive her diploma.

This was common practice several generations ago, when having a post-secondary education wasn’t seen as an essential form of schooling.

“Back then, it didn’t seem to matter if you had a diploma or not,” said Fjellstad.

According to her, drafting was seen as “part of the arts,” when she was at SAIT, and taking the general drafting program allowed her to break common barriers of the era.

“Back then, it was very difficult to find a job in the field as a woman,” said Fjellstad.

“I didn’t see a lot of women there.”

Nowadays, these misogynistic barriers have evaporated, but Fjellstad’s story resonates with those of us who wander SAIT’s halls in 2017. 

“People were always impressed when you would take a program at SAIT,” said Fjellstad.

And, to our benefit, that is still largely the viewpoint today.

“Based on our in-depth research, we know SAIT is highly respected and is seen as providing the most innovative approaches to education compared to other Calgary post-secondary institutions,” said Gerritsen.

 “SAIT is not seen as only a trades school. However, our work is not done. We’ve made great strides in getting people to understand what SAIT really means, what SAIT really does, and we are always moving the needle when it comes to the perception of SAIT.”

So, if you had any doubts about pursuing an education at SAIT, disregard them. Even if you decide your program doesn’t coincide with the field you wish to work in, don’t quit now.

I can assure you that you won’t regret seeing your diploma through to the end.

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