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Student Perspective 2021 in the Globe and Mail

student perspective globe and mail 2021

Student Perspective is an annual feature in The Globe and Mail showcasing Ontario’s Colleges and Universities. Check out our features on how to plan during these uncertain times, online learning, and tips on choosing a school. You can also check out the many Fall and Winter 2021 Open Houses inside.

Student Perspective Globe and Mail 

Lazaridis School of Business & Economics: Be More Than Your Degree

lazaridis school of business & economics

Be more than your degree at Lazaridis School of Business & Economics.  You need to be ready for the world that’s coming.  Today’s society needs exceptional people, those people study and teach at Lazaridis School of Business & Economics.  Join the growing community at the Lazaridis School and surround yourself with top business and economics students, professors, and business leaders.  Earn while you learn, gaining experience in Canada’s largest business degree co-op program. Graduate career-ready and in high-demand. Earn your BBA or Economics degree in Waterloo, Canada’s most vibrant startup community.  Study Business Technology Management on our Brantford campus and be part of a specialized tight-knit community. It’s your time to succeed, so Succeed at Laurier.

 

How to Help Your Child Choose the Right University or College

Going off to university or college is one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life. It is the climax of so many rom-coms and high school dramas for a very good reason; this is the moment where teenagers take their first great steps towards becoming adults.

Even before applications to schools start going out, there is a lot of work to be done simply to determine which schools and programs best meet your child’s needs and goals. Picking the right school is often an extremely complex process involving research, talking to the right people, and budgeting for expenses such as tuition, accommodation, commuting, and food.

Though this can be a stressful time for your child, it is also an excellent opportunity for you as a parent to step into an uber-supportive role and help them through this process in a productive way. This is especially true in a post-COVID-19 world, where a great deal of uncertainty still surrounds what the future will hold for many young individuals’ academic experiences. Being there to help your child navigate the new pandemic-spurred complexities of choosing a school is important.

Here are a few useful tips on how you can help your child choose the right university or college:

Research

Your child is probably completely overwhelmed by everything that picking a college or university involves. This is the biggest decision they have ever made and knowing how to work through it in an informed, organized way, as well as what questions to ask, may not come naturally to them.

As the parent, you can help your child by advising them on what things to research when looking at different colleges and universities. Suggest using spreadsheets and note-taking systems to record information like tuition costs or programs of interest in ways that will be easy to reference later. It is also helpful to ask questions about the location of the campus, what first year housing is like and most importantly, whether the school has programs that cater to your child’s interests.

sheridan college globe and mail

For example, one university may have a science program that your child is interested in, but its campus may lack the excitement of another university with a downtown location. Helping them to decide what is important to their student experience and where compromises are acceptable will aid them in narrowing down their choices.

It is important that throughout this process you do not tell your child what they should be prioritizing but rather help them to identify the things that they value.

Look for virtual events and resources

COVID-19 has changed the game for how prospective students explore colleges and universities. While nothing quite captures the magic of visiting a campus in person, schools are quickly adapting to the limitations of safe travel and accommodation by programming a slew of virtual events. These offer people plenty of opportunities to connect with other prospective students and get to know what a school has to offer.

While it is still worthwhile to try and visit campuses to get a real sense of what student life is like, virtual events make it easier to explore more options without having to spend money and time on flights, accommodations, or long drives.

Compare student safety information

Even though COVID restrictions are gradually easing, the student experience has fundamentally changed as a result of the pandemic. As mandated by the government, all colleges and universities are expected to have a COVID safety plan in place for staff and students, however, not all plans are equal.

It is important when considering schools for you and your child to review each institution’s safety plan and how it has been received by people in attendance. Look for articles published in local and student papers and do your own research to establish whether you and your child are satisfied with the measures put in place. This will help give both of you peace of mind knowing the institution your child chooses is a responsible one that prioritizes student safety.

Run the numbers

There are no two ways about it; school is expensive. We may be lucky in Canada to have low tuition relative to the United States, but even so, going to college or university is no small financial consideration. Even after tuition payments, there are always the added costs of textbooks, housing, commuter fees, and food to factor in.

This can be an excellent opportunity to educate your child on financial responsibilities by having them put together a budget based on estimated expenses and doing research into financial aid. The Canadian Government offers their provincial and federal loan programs and your child’s prospective school will likely have its own scholarships, which can help to reduce the costs associated with enrolling for higher education in a college or university.

Know when to step back

Going to a post-secondary school is all about your child leaving home to take their first steps towards adulthood. It is about them learning how to be independent from their parents, making challenging decisions on their own and then embracing what those decisions lead to. This is also a huge adjustment period for parents who might not be used to life without their kids around everyday. That dreaded “empty-nester” feeling can actually be as bad as it is made out to be!

One of the most important things you as a parent can do is know when to be there to support your child and then when to step back and let them figure things out themselves. Giving your child the space to work through things like deciding which school or program they want to apply to will make the results of those decisions all the more fulfilling.

Choosing a university or college can be stressful but it does not have to be. By following these steps and helping your child to navigate the complexities of researching schools and completing applications, this can be an opportunity for immense growth and development.

The odds are you and your child will only get this one opportunity to apply to schools (unless they go on to a master’s degree), so, make the most of it! School is an exciting time and there is so much to look forward to. Bringing positivity and encouragement to the discussion rather than stress and pressure, can set the tone for your child’s overall experience at university or college. It also helps them to cultivate better coping strategies for stress which will serve them extremely well come examination time at the end of each semester.

Ontario Graduates:Partnerships with Business on the rise

Ontario attracts investment from global companies because of the talented and skilled graduates of its post-secondary institutions. Finding and keeping the right talent is the biggest challenge for today’s employers in a time of upheaval, transition and labour shortages in many sectors.

Each of the province’s 24 colleges and 22 universities provide a continuous pipeline of skilled workers, partnering with employers to create innovative ways to prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow and to help current workers adapt to changing technology.

“Input from employers plays a pivotal role throughout all of Durham College’s program development activities,” said Debbie Johnston, Dean of the Centre for Professional and Part-time Learning at Durham College in Oshawa.

Frequent labour market scans allow the college to identify and analyze emerging employment trends and opportunities. As well, Durham College gets input on ideas for new certificates, diplomas, graduate certificates and degrees from its more than 100 program advisory committees, which are made up of industry leaders.

“The close working relationships that Durham College has with hundreds of businesses play a critical role in ensuring we address real needs – both now and for the future.”

Mohawk College in Hamilton has established partnerships with more than 2,000 employers and industry stakeholders, said James Vanderveken, Dean, Centre for Community Partnerships and Experiential Learning.

lazaridis school of business economics

Mohawk has made a significant commitment to implementing a demand-led education model, involving employers in all stages of the education process, says Vanderveken.

“This approach has proven successful over the past several years, providing students with the most relevant skills they need to pursue their chosen fields of work and providing employers with a potential workforce that has been trained with employer input to ensure suitability for the regional work environment. Often, the demand-led model of training creates a pathway directly from education to employment.”

Mohawk has embarked on an ambitious five-year workforce-recovery initiative called Challenge 2025 that commits intensified resources to address poverty, under-education, labour shortages, unemployment and underemployment in the Greater Hamilton Area. Employers, social service agencies, and the college are working together to provide training, family support, work placements and an opportunity for employment to people on social assistance.

A material handling program through City School by Mohawk provides participants with six weeks of instruction, a two-week paid work placement, and wraparound supports such as childcare, work safety equipment, and referrals to support services such as legal clinics, housing, and health care.

Similar projects have focused on programs for pharmacy assistants, early childhood education assistants and personal support workers.

Challenge 2025 initiatives also include a pilot project in the supply chain sector that is training 144 people, including recipients of Ontario Works, newcomers and youth. Another project is engaging other colleges across Canada in delivering targeted training courses.

Ontario’s universities are also leading innovative partnerships, including Ryerson University, which along with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, founded Magnet Hub to harnesss jobmatching technology that addresses unemployment and underemployment. It brings together 30 postsecondary institutions, 13,000 employers, 250 community partners and more than 90,000 job seekers.

The Executive Master’s in Technology Management program at Wilfrid Laurier University develops digital literacy, innovation management and design thinking skills for business leaders in order to drive innovation and technology adoption.

Universities have also developed deep sector-specific collaborations, including Lakehead University’s new Centre for Advanced Science and Engineering Studies works with businesses on sustainable resources development and prepare students for jobs in the mining sector.

The University of Windsor’s Clean Combustion Engine Laboratory (CCEL) is where the university and Ford Canada are working together to train the next generation of auto workers.

Aerospace giants Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Honeywell and Safran are investing in a collaboration between Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, York University and local colleges to transform Toronto’s Downsview Park into an aerospace hub, advance the industry and train the next generation of aerospace workers.

The Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) at Laurentian University has a one-of-a-kind mobile lab dedicated to the prevention of occupational illness and industry through research into fatigue mitigation, mobile equipment accident prevention,  vibrationinduced injury prevention, heat stress prevention, and sleep hygiene.

Universities are also helping prepare workers at all stages of their careers in advanced manufacturing to work with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and robotics.

A great example is the Continuous Studies office at Ontario Tech University, which offers short programs that allow manufacturing workers to develop transferable skills while working. The university is also developing short master’s certificates to assist managers to move from one sector to another.

Another great example of a partnership in action is between the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and the School of Transportation at Centennial College, which offers programs in automotive, truck and coach, heavy duty equipment and aviation.

“The aging workforce and growth in urban transit are exacerbating an existing technician shortage,” said Dean Alan McClelland. Centennial College is doubling the number of  apprentices in TTC program, which better prepares truck and coach apprentices for novel technologies that are found on buses. These include advanced climate controls, hybrid-electric drive systems, battery-electric drive systems and communication networks.

“There are several trades with such a shortage of skilled people that merely letting apprentices go for their in-school training leaves their workplaces shortstaffed,” said McClelland. So, to prevent disruption to their employer, Centennial now offers a part-time option where apprentices can attend class on Saturdays and complete one level each academic year.

The trades included in this option are autobody and collision damage technician, truck and coach technician and truck trailer technician.

Colleges and universities are also rolling out a suite of micro-credentials – rapid training programs to help workers upgrade their skills to succeed in their current careers or find new employment.

Micro-credentials are short in duration, may be completed online, and can be designed for the specific needs of employers and jobs.

At Fanshawe College in London, for instance, micro-credentials are responding to emerging demands in business, information technology, media, technology, trades and education.

As well, Humber College’s Advanced Manufacturing Micro-Credentials Program offers laid-off workers and job seekers seven new micro-credentials that prepare them for employment in
advanced manufacturing.

DeGroote School of Business: Strong support system for students

Nijhum Saha has only just started her first year at McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business, but she’s already become an integral part of the community.

The Brampton native has always been a very community-oriented person. In fact, she says that one of the reasons why she chose to attend DeGroote for university is its reputation for having a strong network and support system for students. “I’ve been researching universities since middle school and I was so excited to come here. When I was accepted, I wanted to contribute to that community network in my own way.”

Even before high school ended, she created two social groups called “DeGroote Class of 2025” (on Instagram and Discord) that aimed to create a sense of community and engage the incoming class.

“I noticed other students were a bit intimidated about going to university. So I started the social groups as a way to put information out there and gather others together to make it a little less scary. Soon, clubs at Mac were contacting me to give out their information and it became kind of a communications centre. I made sure to attend all the webinars and source good information so I could help answer questions and direct people to the right places.”

When she and her fellow classmates arrived on campus in September, the social groups grew even more. With about 600 followers now on Instagram, Nijhum posts stories that share resources for events, club activities, residence info and other social and academic opportunities.

“There’s a lot going on during first year here on campus, and especially with Covid, this seems to be a great way to connect with others going through it too.”

Nijhum says that Welcome Week activities were a lot of fun and a fantastic way to continue building the community and add the in-person element. “I met a lot of Greensuits that first week and introduced myself and was recognized as the admin behind the groups. It was such a fun feeling and it’s been really great to have their support.”

When asked why she’s passionate about fostering a sense of inclusivity, engagement and community, she responds that it’s less scary and more supportive than trying to do it alone.

“I love that the DeGroote experience has lived up to its reputation – the profs are very helpful and the community is amazing. I’m joining the DeGroote Women in Business group and the Accounting Association and I’m going to run for first-year class rep. I know my experience here will be a good one where I can focus on both building a close network and focusing on academics. I’m so glad I chose DeGroote.”

degroote school of business globe and mail

Success Matters at Durham College

How do you prepare for the careers of tomorrow at a time when everything seems to be
changing? It’s a question many students are asking themselves after eighteen months of a
global pandemic that has transformed the way we work, learn and live.

Despite this, the formula for success hasn’t changed – and it’s the same one Durham College
(DC) has been using for decades to prepare students to face the world head-on.

Whether learning from expert faculty in state-of-the-art facilities or participating in
interactive, experiential learning opportunities – like co-op, applied research, field placement
and more – students at DC gain the theoretical knowledge and real-world experience that
help them pursue their ambitions and make them valuable to employers.

Since 1967, more than 100,000 DC students have graduated career-ready and prepared to
create meaningful change in their communities, including notable alumni like Tamara Dus and
Brent Lessard.

A health care trailblazer on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dus co-led the provincial pilot vaccination roll-out plan in 2021 and administered the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Ontario. In the tech industry, Premier’s Award recipient Lessard graduated from DC and went on to co-found rLoop, Inc., a non-profit think tank with more than 1,600 members who develop and launch world-changing technology. Dus and Lessard began their stories at DC, where they gained valuable skills required to become leaders in their sectors.

As students are given the opportunity to forge their own path, exploring programs
and credentials that best suit their needs, they’re supported with access to programming,
events and services that nurture entrepreneurship, creativity, sustainability, diversity,
inclusion, mental wellness, and Indigenous culture, helping them develop as global citizens.

This unique DC culture has helped graduates in the real world draw on their knowledge and
passion to contribute to their career sectors in amazing ways.

As a chef turned filmmaker who has seen early career success putting the ‘art’ in culinary
arts, alumna Kristin Atwood is another example of how DC students are thriving post graduation.  Atwood spent her time at DC gaining hands-on experience in the kitchens at the W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, while exploring her creative interests outside of cooking.  Since graduating in 2017, she has relocated to Scotland and founded Chef Studio, a Daytime Emmy® and James Beard nominated creative food and film production company specializing in creative cooking content for digital and broadcast platforms. She was also named Best New Filmmaker at the Canadian Diversity Film Festival.

There are thousands more stories of innovative DC grads succeeding in their chosen careers
– building upon the specialized knowledge and real-world experience gained in college
that employers are looking for when hiring. As students prepare to take the step into postsecondary education, asking themselves, “where do I go from here?” the answer is easy – go where success matters.

To learn more about Durham College, its market-driven programs and exceptional student
experience, visit www.durhamcollege.ca.

durham college open house 2021

Your path to Success: Seneca

Your Goals. Your Way.  You are unique. So is your path to success. Seneca can help you find it. Challenge Accepted.

You know when it’s time for a change.  Maybe you’re after a new credential or a new set of skills. Maybe it’s a whole new career.

You also know when that change comes, life doesn’t stop. Your family still needs you. You need to work. Bills have to be paid. Time is scarce.

Achieving a new goal takes hard work, good planning and a flexible academic program that meet your needs. That’s where Seneca comes in.

Seneca offers hundreds of programs and credentials, ranging from degrees and graduate certificates to diplomas and microcredentials. Whether it’s a short-term online course that builds on your previous knowledge and experience or a four-year degree that leads in a new direction, Seneca has an option that will work for you.

seneca

“Seneca was really flexible,” said Ann Varghese, a graduate of the Practical Nursing diploma program. “I didn’t want to give up my full-time job, and I have kids. Some of my classes were virtual, and the professors were really accommodating and encouraging.”

Seneca’s many program delivery options take distance out of the equation. You can learn from anywhere, during hours that work for you. Courses are delivered online, in person or a mix of the two. And you learn at your own pace. Parttime studies are available. So are accelerated options.

The choice is yours.

Plus, at Seneca, you join a community of thousands of students and professors who share your dedication to building a better future for everyone. You’ll meet people from around the world, of different ages and backgrounds — all with something to contribute, working towards their own goals. You will fit right in.

Seneca prepares you to accept the challenge of what will come next in your life … and your career. We offer a great polytechnic education that combines rigorous academics with practical training. You gain the knowledge and experience you’ll need to be successful now.

You also learn how to learn, which will benefit you down the road when you’re facing a new challenge and pursuing your next goal.

Kristal Moore is a double Seneca graduate, completing the Police Foundations diploma program then the Honours Bachelor of Crime & Intelligence Analysis degree program.

“My degree is the first of its kind in Ontario,” she said. “Being a part of the first graduating cohort was an incredible feeling, and the program prepared me for my career as a crime analyst.”

From health care to technology, business to creative arts, community services to science, you’ll find a program that matches your interests, your passion and your expertise.

Seneca’s dedicated professors have strong connections with industry, and we offer thousands of co-op and work placements that get you hands-on experience while connecting you with future employers.

Are you ready to achieve a new goal, your way? Seneca is ready to help you do it.

Our recruitment team is available when you are, with online advising and virtual events.

Get started at www.senecacollege.ca.

 

Fanshawe’s student support program is Here for You

There are many “firsts” we experience throughout our lives. First step, first word, first day of school—they mark important milestones and there is often a great deal of anticipation and celebration surrounding these events.

When we think of a student’s first day of college, we may think about attending orientation, sitting in classrooms and meeting new people. For many students this year, their first day was quite different. They may have attended orientation online, they likely attended their first class online and meeting new students was done through a computer screen. Thousands of postsecondary students have experienced a significantly different “first day of college” than they were likely expecting. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much of day-to-day life, and with a focus on keeping communities safe, individuals and organizations alike have adapted to the current reality.

Fanshawe College has moved many programs to an online delivery format. Approximately 60 per cent of students enrolled in the fall 2021 semester are studying fully online. This is an important step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, however it means students experience a significantly different school year than they had imagined. They may also experience some nervousness about starting their post-secondary journey during such an uncertain time.

Over the years, Fanshawe has built a substantial student support program called Here for You. With access to academic support, counselling services and more, students are given the tools they need to fully unlock their potential. Now, more than ever, students need specialized support to ensure their college experience—while perhaps different than expected—is successful.

Unique to Fanshawe’s curriculum development are the Signature Innovative Learning Experience (SILEx) and Job Skills for the Future models. Fanshawe students will graduate with SILEx opportunities that involve hands-on learning, multi-disciplinary collaboration and live client interactions. These experiences mean graduates enter the workforce having already had valuable experiences that mirror the “real world.”

Fanshawe has identified seven Job Skills for the Future—soft, transferrable skills including resilience, complex problem solving and novel and adaptive thinking among others, that are becoming increasingly important in today’s evolving career landscape. While technical skills change rapidly with the advent of new technologies, soft skills become more valuable over time. The College has committed to developing curriculum for every program that emphasizes a minimum of three Job Skills for the Future.

The College’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic mirrors the approach to curriculum. Faculty have taken innovative steps to adapt program delivery to online or blended learning. From introducing new technology to enhance the experience for those learning online to building community partnerships that allow students to complete their studies while giving back to those in need, faculty have worked tirelessly to ensure students have an inspiring and fulfilling experience at Fanshawe.

Fanshawe’s commitment to student success includes working closely with students to identify their educational goals and design a pathway that will work best for them. With a variety of credentials including certificates, diplomas, graduate studies and degrees, students can chart a path within Fanshawe that will prepare them for success in their field. We will also work with them to transfer existing credits from another institution to Fanshawe, or help students find additional opportunities at other institutions after completing a Fanshawe credential. There are numerous options for students, and Fanshawe provides guidance every step of the way.

At Fanshawe, we are here for our students. We have seen first-hand just how quickly our world can change, and we are committed to adapting to whatever challenges we face. Our mission remains the same: provide pathways to success, an exceptional learning experience and a global outlook to meet student and employer needs. Whether our students are studying online or in person, we are here to make their first day—and every day after—a memorable one.

fanshawe open house

Sheridan’s peer connections assist the educational journey

Sheridan’s Well Series is a program that helps students in the all-important transition through their first-year postsecondary experience

Whether attending virtual, in-class or both, students can use online tools to help them get started as successfully as possible, says Joan Sweeney Marsh, Associate Vice Provost, Academic at Sheridan College. The program includes a combination of self-directed online modules, live chat with advisors and opportunities to meet other Sheridan students. “It covers the whole student experience, from start to finish of their studies and beyond,” says Marsh.

Following the typical student lifecycle, students begin with early pre-arrival support (Start Well), then move into the weeks leading up to the term’s start and through first year (Transition Well). From there, students engage in all-important learning strategies and supports (Learn Well) and career and work readiness (Work Well). Land Well is aimed at international students who have some distinct needs when they land in a new and possibly unfamiliar environment.

A “secret sauce” of the Well Series, says Ms. Sweeney Marsh, is Teach Well. It provides  faculty with innovative, interactive and multimedia course materials that deliver novel learning strategies to increase student engagement and motivation.

Across the series, Sheridan has purposefully included what it calls “mindful redundancies” for students. These repetitions focus on four main themes: creating community; navigating Sheridan services and supports; elements of well-being and a mindful approach to the academic journey; and various academic preparedness components. Sweeney Marsh says no matter the module, these redundancies serve to tie together the journey.

“These power skills help students to learn now and understand how they can be used in their educational journey and beyond,” she says.

Research demonstrates the transformative impact on students. Assessments show a high use of the programs during the 2020-21 year, with 54,000 student views of the Learn Well  module, 10,500 user interactions in the virtual communities and 750 students booking tutors through the portal.

“Start Well allowed me to be ahead of the game,” wrote Ganyo Soh, a student in Social Service Worker Gerontology. As a result, she achieved a 4.0 GPA, because it “eased away any types of struggles or unnecessary self-talk in my mind because I was prepared.”

Start Well

Begin your Sheridan journey with a series of one-on-one peer connections, workshops like financial aid, and supportive orientation activities to ensure your transition to Sheridan is welcoming and informative.

Transition Well

Designed to prepare you for the Sheridan learning environment before your first semester, the Transition Well workshops help you brush up on academic skills, learn to navigate the online course platform, meet new classmates and boost your postsecondary readiness.

Learn Well

Complete modules embedded in one of your program’s first semester courses to learn quick tips for academic success and learning strategies that will set you up to succeed. We guarantee these modules will help you at Sheridan and we offer a certificate when the modules are completed.

Work Well

Get support for your co-op or internship experience or for your industry field placement and plan for your future career. These modules are designed to get you workplace ready.

Land well

International students can build the foundations for success in Sheridan’s learning environment with Land Well. These interactive modules will familiarize you with the Sheridan community, identify available learning services, and build key discipline specific academic and interpersonal skills to set you up for success.

Teach well

Designed for Sheridan’s exceptional teaching faculty, Teach Well includes a virtual community of practice, modules and synchronous sessions on a variety of themes such as online course design, teaching strategies and interactive technologies.

Covid: How Ontario schools are aiming to get back to normal

The novel coronavirus disrupted college and university classes, closed down campuses and forced learning to go online for the better part of two years.

After what was deemed by many post-secondary institutions to be a “transition semester” in fall 2021, many across Ontario are ready to get back to normal, or at least to a modified version of normal, for the winter semester of 2022.

That will include, in many cases, required proof of vaccination, the wearing of masks while indoors, and enhanced cleaning regimens.

But it will also include more academic programs and student services offered online or in a hybrid model, along with more resources dedicated to student health and well-being.

At Centennial College in Toronto, online offerings will be permanent fixtures in its program mix for the foreseeable future, says David Ip Yam, Dean of Students. He says at the beginning of the pandemic, the college invested in 44 full-time programs that are fully online “so that students can be fully engaged in these career-oriented program regardless of where they’re located in the world.”

As well, co-curricular and student services, including enrolment, academic advising, and personal counselling shifted online and those offerings will continue.

“More recently, we’ve invested in HyFlex (“hybrid + flexible”) learning, which is a relatively new approach that provides students with the choice whether to attend class on campus or in person, live online or online anytime (asynchronous).”

Centennial students have reported more stress over social isolation, workload demands, difficulty concentrating, job security and financial concerns, among others, says Yam. The college responded in a number of ways, including by facilitating community building through  student-to-student connections through weekly engagement programming, e-mentors, and international student ambassadors.

As well, the college “normalized mental health and help-seeking, including launching a peer listener program, given that some students prefer to seek support from other students,” said Yam.

Centennial also created a call centre and a virtual queue for services within the student portal, highlighted skillsbuilding workshops, such as time management, career development and online learning strategies at key points throughout the term, and invested over $1 million in additional funding to students in 2020-2021.

“Based on our Student Pulse Surveys from fall 2020 to winter 2021, we saw statistically significant improvements in student satisfaction with the online learning experience, quality of services and feeling safe. We know we have more work to do on all fronts, but these results have been validating.”

The sudden onset of pandemic restrictions in March 2020 required a rapid mid-semester shift to ensure students could complete their courses, said Alison Horton, Vice President Academic at Mohawk College in Hamilton.

“We are proud of what we accomplished during our initial response. More than 20,000 courses were transferred into a new online learning system in just 10 days. Our faculty made an impressive transition in a short amount of time, quickly adjusting their delivery plans as needed.”

The “vast majority” of students were able to complete their courses despite community restrictions and lockdowns, said Horton.

“We then took advantage of the moment to rethink and redesign program delivery for the 2020-21 academic year.” That included creative ways to keep students engaged in remote learning, such as lightboard technology to illustrate concepts and formulas during lectures, gamified learning through virtual escape rooms, and simulations to allow for the replication of “real world” learning scenarios.

In programs in which in-person training is critical, such as skilled trades and healthcare, strict safety protocols allowed for the return of more than 6,000 students to shops and labs without any COVID-19 outbreaks.

Successful innovations introduced during the pandemic will continue in the future, says Horton.

“We have a strong desire to fully reopen our campuses for students, to provide them with a complete student experience again, as soon as we can safely do so. At the same time, we recognize that some students have excelled in virtual and remote learning and would prefer to learn in a more flexible environment moving forward. For that reason, we expect that we will continue to build on the hybrid learning model as an option for many Mohawk College programs moving forward.”

A number of universities, including the University of Waterloo, Ryerson University, OCAD University and York University, have announced a return to classes for winter 2022. At both OCAD and York, there will be normal class occupancy levels and no physical distancing requirements.

“Looking ahead, as we plan to deliver a more normal level of winter term classes in person, we will continue to work with our local public health team to make sure our plans protect your physical and mental health,” read a statement released by the University of Waterloo on Sept. 20.

“This means we will largely return to our pre-pandemic approaches to academic life at Waterloo.”

Most universities and colleges all across the province have required proof of full vaccination to access campuses this fall. That is expected to continue in 2022.

Mandating vaccines will work to “protect the university from outbreaks, to protect individuals from severe disease, hospitalization and death, and to continue to promote a healthy environment in which we learn, work and live,” said University of Guelph president and vice-chancellor Charlotte Yates.

Maintaining online options seems to match the expectations of students, according to a poll done by KPMG that was conducted in early September and released in October.

The poll of 1,203 post-secondary students found that 88 per cent expect their university to provide the kind of “easy to use and straightforward” digital customer service experience they expect in other walks of life and over 76 per cent believe the university of the future will bear little resemblance to today’s education institutions.

“Over the next decade, students will become even more diverse, digital, and deliberate in their decision making, putting pressure on higher education institutions to design and deliver a more personalized experience that encompasses the student as a learner, a digitally savvy person, and a customer,” said C.J. James, partner and national education practice leader at KPMG.

Other key findings included 71 per cent of respondents who called campus life “important” and said they were looking forward to returning to in-person classes.

Humber College Provides Practical Experience

humber college

Humber College graduates are known to be work-ready and highly employable. More than 87 per cent of graduates are employed within six months of graduation,* thanks to a focus on workintegrated learning and a curriculum that responds directly to workforce needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated change and innovation in many areas, and Humber’s commitment to providing the highest-quality polytechnic education remains, whether students are learning in person or online.

Kayla Amaral graduated from Humber College’s Pharmacy Technician program during the pandemic, and despite uncertain times, she secured full-time employment.

“I felt confident in the skills I had gained throughout the course of the program to go out and find work in my desired field,” she said.

“In the short time since I graduated, the scope of practice for technicians has expanded to allow technicians to administer injections, like vaccines,” she said.

Humber faculty are experienced professionals, and many continue to work and maintain connections to top employers. Amaral says their guidance and the program’s focus on practical experience helped her adapt.

Online, in person and everywhere in between

To give students the best possible experience during the pandemic, Humber developed online resources and tools, including a team dedicated to helping students navigate their studies six days a week at the Open Learning Centre.

Over the past few months, many students have transitioned to a mix of in-person and online learning. Now that the college is welcoming more and more students back to campus, Humber expects to offer significantly more in-person services and increased opportunities for on-campus interactions and activities.

A healthy, inclusive campus

Humber students are supported outside of the classroom, too. The college aims to be the healthiest campus in Canada, which means wellness, sustainability, and inclusion are top priorities.

The Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre offers counselling, mental wellness services and physical health appointments, which can also be accessed remotely. Students can also take advantage of Humber’s Accessible Learning Services, which coordinates academic accommodations and services for students with disabilities.

A healthy community is also equitable, inclusive and diverse. Humber’s Indigenous Education & Engagement department and the Black Academic Success and Engagement (BASE) provide resources, opportunities and community.

Recent Bachelor of Commerce – Digital Business Management graduate Michallia Marks was attracted to Humber because of what she calls “an interesting blend of what you’re learning in the classroom and real-world scenarios” and became involved at the BASE right away.

“I like what they’re about – focusing on Black students and ensuring that Black students have a space at the college. I’ve met so many different people from various programs and walks of life.”

Experience Humber this fall

If you’re interested in a program at Humber College, plan to attend the Fall 2021 Humber Virtual Open House on November 20 that runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers sessions on programs, events from each faculty and more.

The Open House is a one-stop shop for information on all things Humber. You will also get the opportunity to virtually tour the North and Lakeshore Campuses and Residences.

Pre-register to receive notifications about the upcoming Fall Open House.

For more information, visit www.humber.ca/openhouse

 

* Colleges Ontario Key Performance Indicators 2019-2020

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