Amid pandemic, TRU offers virtual upgrading courses

Upgrading courses are free of charge and students can apply for an adult upgrading grant to cover the cost of ancillary fees and texts. There is also a $500 grant available for technology supports.

As health officials cope with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, some fields of work are being impacted more than others.

Due to the current turmoil, the length of which is unknown, people looking to upgrade their education can do so for free through Thompson University’s university preparation department.

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Courses are now offered online, instead of in person, but the objective remains the same — giving students a solid education so they can have a better future.

“We are still offering our courses and our instructors have worked hard to offer a quality online learning experience,” said Kim Tamblyn, co-chair of the Department of University and Employment Preparation in TRU’s Faculty of Education and Social Work.

“We have some pretty amazing things that our instructors are doing to facilitate the change, including online videos and at-home labs for our science courses,”

UPrep has been offered at TRU for 49 of the institution’s 50 years. Students can be straight out of school, returning to complete high school or older adults who have been working and want to make a career change.

Each student’s circumstances are unique and UPrep is flexible to meet their needs. Students can take upgrading courses at the same time that they take university courses, depending on their program of study. For example, if a student needs to take a high school math class through UPrep to bring up a mark, but is qualified for first-year university English, they can do that. Or if a student wants to go into nursing, but needs to bring up some high-school marks, that’s an option.

Emily Reimer, 20, was a third-year bachelor of science student when the pandemic disrupted her in-class studies this past spring.

The onset of the crisis, however, inspired her to change her career path from biochemistry research to pursuing nursing instead, realizing she wanted to help people in a hands-on way.

“I just kind of had an epiphany,” Reimer said. “I always wanted to pursue a career in the medical field before I was thinking of biochemistry.”

Reimer began taking online Uprep courses in September to get the upgrades needed in biology, chemistry and pre-calculus to enter TRU’s School of Nursing program next September.

She said the GPA requirements are a lot more competitive for nursing than pursing a bachelor of science, and while her grades in high school were strong, nursing is an extremely competitive program to get into, so she wanted to better her chances of getting accepted by upgrading.

With a degree, Reimer hopes to become either a paediatric nurse or oncology nurse.

Reimer moved to Kamloops from Victoria three years ago to pursue her post-secondary education.

While there was a learning curve for her in adapting to online learning when face-to-face instruction halted this past spring, she’s been impressed with how quickly TRU professors transitioned to the model.

“I feel like everyone’s doing the best that they can,” Reimer said.

Upgrading courses are free of charge and students can apply for an adult upgrading grant to cover the cost of ancillary fees and texts. There is also a $500 grant available for technology supports.

Tamblyn recommends potential students contact her office to talk about their options. Registration for winter 2021 courses is open in numerous subject areas, including English, math, biology, chemistry, physics, Native studies and student success.

Contact Tamblyn via email at

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