originally published in the 2015 Winter Issue

People who dropped out of high school, or just didn’t do very well, often think they will never be able to pursue a post-secondary education and enter a career of their choice; however that is not true. They can do it. The Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program provides access to the University of Toronto for those aged 19 and up who have been away from formal education for some time and don’t meet the usual university entrance requirements. Thomas Socknat, Academic Director of the Program, says ”A lot of people just don’t think they could ever qualify for university studies, especially at U of T. They need to know that the Academic Bridging Program is designed to provide a second chance for people like them—“non-traditional” students—to explore and pursue post-secondary education.”

Take, for example, Matt Hitch. He felt he had blown any chance of attending university until he discovered the Academic Bridging Program. Now he is a third year student at U of T and loving every minute of it. Roberta Miggiani was a high school drop-out until the Bridging Program offered her the opportunity to prove she could do university level work. This year she received an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree with High Distinction. There are hundreds of similar success stories of people who literally “changed their lives” by accessing a university education.

Students enrolled in the Bridging Program take one of three courses and upon successful completion they automatically enter the Faculty of Arts and Science with their first credit towards a U of T degree. They also benefit from free access to a career educator, a learning strategist, a series of study skills seminars, assistance with writing at the Academic Writing Centre, and personal attention from their instructors since all classes are relatively small. Financial assistance is also available.

The students themselves have diverse backgrounds, including a number who are “first generation”—the first in their family to pursue university studies. Most students who complete the program hail it as a “life-altering experience” and go on to earn their university degree.

For nearly 50 years, the Academic Bridging Program (located at U of T’s Woodsworth College) has been helping mature students access a university education and yet, for some reason, it still seems to be one of the best kept secrets in town. Don’t be shy—apply. There is still time to register for the academic term beginning in January 2015. For more information check out our website:

Toronto, Canada