How many of us would say that being self-motivated and avoiding procrastination are an ongoing challenge? Perhaps it’s one of those things we hope comes with life experience and maturity. But what if we could learn self-motivation from a young age? It would be a huge head start for the youth of today to navigate the world as intrinsically motivated human beings. Fortunately, that’s the case for many SelfDesign learners.

Welcome to another installment of our blog series, What Sets Us Apart, where we explore how SelfDesign is unique.

Quinne, 19, commenced from SelfDesign in June this year with an Adult Dogwood Diploma, which is awarded to students who successfully complete the provincial graduation requirements.

“The ability to self-motivate has really stayed with me and has helped in my life since graduation,” said Quinne. “When I see an opportunity, I just go for it. I know that procrastinating is not going to get me anywhere. When I see something I want to do, or a job I want, I make that phone call or write that email and send it off right away. I learned these contextual lessons through SelfDesign.”

Quinne also credits SelfDesign for the fact that she has delved into an incredibly varied array of interests, without need for exclusivity. She is successfully and simultaneously pursuing her musical career as a singer/songwriter and is exploring entrepreneurship. She lives rurally, homesteading with her family, and enjoys horseback riding, gardening, and is part of a string orchestra as well as an acapella choir.

SelfDesign offers three pathways that support learners to achieve their goal in the way that best suits them: the B.C. Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma), the Adult Graduation Diploma and the School Completion (Evergreen) Certificate.

Through the personalized learning experience that SelfDesign offers, learners have the same opportunities to graduate as learners in brick-and-mortar (traditional classroom-based) schools. Our learners can apply to post-secondary institutions to further their education and work toward a future professional career.

“Our learners can get the same credentials at our school as in any school in the province,” said Nikki Kenyon, Principal of Educational Programs at SelfDesign. “But what really sets us apart is that while learners follow the pathways that are common to every school in the province and indeed achieve their Dogwood or other certification, we take it further and actually set them up for where they are headed next. That’s the whole point. When you believe in lifelong learning, the goal isn’t just to achieve a credential. It’s actually to achieve the skills needed to continue to learn everywhere you go.”

When Quinne was 15, an opportunity not many people her age are likely to stumble upon, fell into her lap. While travelling with her family they visited the farm of a passionate gardener, named Morgan, who owned a seed company called Sacred Grove Seeds but was looking to retire after running the business for 10 years. Morgan didn’t want to let the seed lines fade out, so when she found out that Quinne was into gardening, she passed her business along to Quinne.

Fifteen may sound like a young age to start a business, but with our model of personalized learning and flexibility, it’s possible to dream outside the box. Quinne was able to integrate her business learning into projects she did for school and she felt it prepared her personally for her life after school too.

“Running my seed company made me learn a lot about financials at a younger age” said Quinne. “The whole accounting part – having integrity around money and being able to figure things out and understand deposits, credit and that sort of thing has made me a lot more conscious in the management of my own personal money as well.”

So what is it about SelfDesign that nurtures learners to be multi-passionate and intrinsically-motivated?

“The beauty of what we offer the learner is the ability to use their interests and passions to meet the curriculum requirements,” said Nikki. “By the time learners leave SelfDesign, they are set up for their future in a really beneficial way.”

Each semester in grades 10 to 12, our learners gather their best work into a portfolio to be assessed. In addition to the portfolios, learners also create capstone projects which are interdisciplinary large-scale projects on a topic of interest to them. By the time our learners reach Grade 12 they will have already completed five or six capstone projects.

“Because our learners have already been doing these capstone projects,” added Nikki. “They have the experience and the support needed to identify something they are interested in or passionate about and the ability to take it from idea to actual. That’s something that’s pretty unique about our program – we are building those skills from the beginning.”

Imagine being 19-years-old and knowing how to be self-motivated, self-reflective, manage your finances wisely, and pursue your dreams purposefully! The world is bound to be a brighter place with more young people like Quinne leading the way.