College seeing strong enrolment
As classes at Confederation College here got underway last week, campus director Anne Renaud was thrilled to see plenty of new faces walking through the doors.
“We have over 80 first-year students, which is a lot of new students,” she enthused, noting they saw a total of about 100 students enrol in post-secondary programs.
“We had a lot of students graduate last year, so not as many returning students this year,” she explained.
“But definitely more first-year students than we’ve had in a long time.”
The number of new students may be attributed to several new programs being offered this year that previously weren’t available in the region before.
“One of them is the ‘Tourism-Travel and Eco-Adventure’ program,” Renaud said.
“That program is being offered at all of our regional campuses.”
She indicated students at each campus are linked directly with the class in Thunder Bay.
“We don’t have a huge number at each campus but because we are fully integrated, we could have one, two, three [students] at any campus and that’s still fine,” Renaud said.
“They are just part of the big class,” she remarked, estimating there are about 35 students overall between Thunder Bay and the regional campuses.
“There’s a lot of travel as part of the program, which is really fun, but also a very good career at the end of the two-year program,” she added.
Renaud said another new program offered here is the “Environmental Technician” one.
“It’s a two-year diploma program,” she indicated. “We’re only offering the first year here in Fort Frances for the first time.”
That means the students have to complete their second year of the program in Thunder Bay.
“We’re really excited about it because we’re hearing from industry that this is an area that is very much-needed, whether students end up going into mining, forestry, waste water—there are all sorts of fields they could go into,” Renaud said.
The local campus had six-eight students enrol in the program this year.
“Students will be out in the local areas measuring trees and taking samples of different types of leaves,” Renaud noted.
“They are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors for the next few weeks, until the snow flies.”
She also said if the local campus continues to attract interest in this field, that is one they’d like to continue and perhaps expand to other locations.
Renaud, meanwhile, indicated the college brought back the “Developmental Services Worker” program—one it had offered previously.
“We didn’t have it in our plans originally for this fall, but we were receiving phone calls at multiple campuses from agencies that hire developmental services workers saying that there are jobs available for people who are qualified,” she explained, adding it was suggested they offer it again.
“So we very quickly turned that around and are offering it this fall so that hopefully we can meet that demand,” she remarked, noting five or six students are enrolled in the program locally.
“But again, it’s fully integrated with Thunder Bay, so even if we have some campuses with just one or two, they are part of the big class,” she reiterated.
“Technology has certainly come a long way and allows us to offer a lot more of these programs that way,” Renaud said.
Along with all the new programs, Renaud added the college also is offering all the usual courses, such as Early Childhood Education, business programs, personal support worker, pre-health sciences, and practical nursing.
“The practical nursing [program] is always very popular, and we’re offering it not only here but also at our Atikokan location this fall,” she said, noting they offered it four years ago in Atikokan and it was very successful.
While it is offered every two years at the Fort Frances campus, the college didn’t think there would be enough demand—or enough jobs—to offer it every two years in Atikokan.
“So we’re looking at offering it there every four years and helping them meet the demand for practical nursing graduates in that community, as well,” Renaud stressed.
In addition to all of the post-secondary programs, Confederation College here also is continuing with its “School Within A College” (SWAC) program for the second year in collaboration with the Rainy River District School Board.
With 30-35 students in that program, these are not included in the enrolment total of 100.
SWAC is offered in Fort Frances, Rainy River, and Atikokan.
“It was very successful,” Renaud said of the program launched last year to allow students to “experience” college courses on a college campus while achieving credits towards a high school diploma.
“Quite a few students were able to obtain their high school diploma and we have a few who continued on to post-secondary in Fort Frances, as well as some of our other campuses and onto other colleges,” Renaud noted.
“So it has been a great success [and] so we’re looking forward to having another large group graduate again this year and hopefully continue on to post-secondary [education].
“It’s been a really great partnership with the Rainy River District School Board,” she continued.
“Because the students are taking high school courses and college courses, we obviously work very closely together to make that all come together for the students.”
Renaud said that since every student’s situation is unique, an individual plan is made up for each one.
“Some students may only need one credit while some need multiple credits, as well as additional graduation requirements, such as volunteer hours or [the] literacy test from Grade 10,” she explained.
“A student might only come for one semester; some come for two or more semesters depending on where they are starting from.”
Renaud said it was wonderful seeing so many students succeed last year.
“To have students who probably hadn’t considered post-secondary before because they didn’t have their high school diploma, now they’ve not only successfully completed their high school diploma, but have continued onto post-secondary,” she enthused.
“That’s pretty amazing.”
For more information about Confederation College’s campus here, visit www.confederationc.on.ca/fortfrances