Quest University is getting top marks from its small student population.
On a distinctly spring day near the end of winter the energy at Quest University was noticeably abundant Saturday, March 9 for the annual preview day held at the campus in Squamish.
Ahead of preview day, Quest had 587 applications from potential first-year students. The school’s director of admissions, Keely Stott, said 180 new first-year students would be accepted for the 2013-2014 academic year. Helfand noted that the growth in applications to Quest has been growing by 40 per cent a year.
The annual day held for potential new students and their parents took place just a few days after the 2012 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) results were released. The results showed that 92 per cent of the graduating students rated their experience at Quest as excellent.
Dr. David Helfand heads the small independent, not-for-profit, secular university with its student population of a little more than 400 students. He said he was pleased with the NSSE results.
“Not only are we ranked first in Canada in all five key measures of educational excellence, the NSSE results actually understate our distinction,” said Helfand through a news release. “At Quest, 90 per cent of our students participate in the survey, meaning it reflects the overall student body experience, while at other schools, average participation rates are only 32 per cent – the most engaged 32 per cent who are willing go through a 100 plus question survey for no grade or other reward.”
Small class sizes that average 15 students and don’t exceed 20 along with the close relationships students form with the faculty led to the glowing NSSE results, a result described by Maclean’s magazine as the number one in educational excellence across Canada.
In an interview session with reporters during the Quest preview day, Helfand said his school doesn’t have any lecture halls. Lessons at Quest are delivered in seminar rooms. Helfand said students who are educated in lecture halls don’t function as well in the work world as students who learn through a seminar setting where collaboration and team dynamics separate education at Quest from experiences at larger universities.
“That’s the advantage that our students are walking away with and it’s quite dramatic,” said Helfand.
“As our Chief Academic Officer likes to say, ‘Our goal here is to institutionalize revolution’ so we need change,” said the president and vice-chancellor of Quest. “Columbia’s courses haven’t changed since 1947. That causes certain problems because the world has changed,” said Helfand of how large schools like Columbia University operate.
Quest students spend a significant amount of their time at the school away from the campus on learning adventures. Helfand said the next major school trip in the planning process is an adventure to the Antarctic Peninsula.