Families enrolling their children in the SelfDesign Learning Community seek the supportive, personalized learning environment for their kids that SelfDesign offers, but they’re also looking to the future.

“Can my child graduate?” they often ask. “Will my child be able to go on to university or enter a trades program and become a doctor, a lawyer, a rocket scientist or whatever it is they want to do as a profession?”

“Absolutely!” says SelfDesign’s Principal of Educational Programs Nikki Kenyon. “Through the personalized learning experience that SelfDesign Learning Community offers, our learners can get the same credentials as in any school in the province. Our learners can apply to post-secondary institutions to further their education and work towards a future professional career.”

We offer three pathways for learners to achieve their learning goals – the B.C. Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma), the Adult Graduation Diploma (Adult Dogwood Diploma) and the School Completion (Evergreen) Certificate.

Setting learners up for future success

Former SelfDesign learner Sophie, who commenced from SelfDesign with a Dogwood Diploma in 2019, credits our unique approach to learning for her being accepted into the art program at Ontario’s Sheridan College.

“I honestly don’t think I would have got into Sheridan if I’d been at a normal high school, just because I needed the time to devote myself to drawing and building a good portfolio,” she says. Sophie received a BC Ministry of Education Achievement Award as a result of her efforts.

Sierra, another SelfDesign learner, obtained her Dogwood Diploma in 2020. However, while she was still in high school at SelfDesign, she had already certified as a permaculturist – a farmer who uses sustainable means to produce food, energy and so on – and was helping to teach university-level classes on the subject.

“I wouldn’t be in the same spot if it wasn’t for the fact that SelfDesign allowed me to really focus on my specific skills, passions and interests,” she says.

Over the years, many of our former learners have gone on to post-secondary programs to become, for example, software designers, statisticians, teachers, business owners, diplomats, professional musicians and composers, competitive athletes, successful writers and artists, and much, much more.

“What really sets us apart,” Nikki says, “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 in SelfDesign and 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.”

Supporting learners to meet their learning goals

And no matter what their age or ability, we support our learners to learn and grow. For some, this means going through the program at a slower pace or creating an Individual Education Plan that supports their needs. Some of these learners may take a bit longer to complete high school, but they still can graduate with an Adult Dogwood Diploma that meets the basic prerequisites for post-secondary education.

Olivia, who commenced from SelfDesign in 2019 with an Adult Dogwood Diploma, now creates and teaches art and has had her work featured in art festivals. Quinne, who also commenced with an Adult Dogwood Diploma, runs a successful business in the B.C. Interior.

Other learners obtain Evergreen certificates. The Evergreen is a B.C. school-completion certificate awarded to students with a special needs designation. It recognizes that the learner has met their learning goals as set out in their unique Individual Educational Plan.

Regardless of which path towards commencement a learner has chosen, at the end of every learning year, we celebrate the achievements of every learner completing their learning journey with us in a commencement ceremony. And we know that leaving SelfDesign is just one milestone in each learner’s lifelong learning journey.

“The learners who are sitting next to each other at commencement will be doing all sorts of different things after this,” says SelfDesign Acting-Principal Catherine Dinim. “They have lived an experience that not many people get to live, and I think that their dreams for what kind of life they’d like to have are bigger because of that.”

Learn more about SelfDesign’s paths to completion: