Establishing a co-curricular record has helped thousands of Algonquin students achieve their full educational potential and become more qualified for their desired careers than through academics alone.
The co-curricular program at Algonquin began with a pilot project in 2012 that included only 50 programs. Since then, it has expanded to be available to all programs across the Woodroffe, Perth and Pembroke Algonquin campuses.
In the last four years, over 6,000 students have accessed the co-curricular database, and over 3,000 printable records have been generated by the department.
Through the co-curricular database on the college website, students have access to volunteer opportunities both on and off campus. Volunteer experience completed by a student through the co-curricular department is tracked by the college to create an individual record.
This record is an official credit given by Algonquin which links volunteer experience to the learning outcomes encompassed in the student’s program, as evidence of their acquired skillset.
Travis Komher, a 19-year-old business administration student and current residence council president, first became involved with the co-curricular program after starting the Algonquin College Young Liberals – a club for students who support the Liberal Party. To him, the most valuable aspect of volunteering is the ability to be directly involved in the things he cares about. “I love Algonquin, and a big part of the AC Hub is getting us involved. Having that opportunity is huge to me,” he said.
On Jan. 9, Komher participated in AC Day 1 as a student volunteer leader. He said being able to provide guidance to the new students who needed it was the most rewarding part of the experience. Komher advocates that new students thinking about volunteering should seek any opportunity that interests them and begin generating their co-curricular record.
Co-Curricular and Volunteerism Coordinator Rebecca Sun describes her department’s role as being a tool for student success. “We guide students on how to apply experiences to new opportunities,” she said. “We always say to start small, to get an idea of the culture of volunteering.”
The culture of volunteering she refers to is one of the pillars of the co-curricular program. Through partnerships with community programs like the Ottawa Foodbank, The Mission and Big Sky Ranch Animal Sanctuary, students are introduced to the value of volunteering and can cultivate an appreciation for all the good that can be accomplished through volunteerism, apart from building a great resume.
Sun recognized that marketing is the biggest challenge faced by her department. The volunteer programs are all completely free and run weekly during the fall/winter term – the only roadblock is attracting students. This task is made especially difficult by the rapid population turnover at Algonquin, which offers many one and two-year programs.
“We see a lot of returning students,” Sun said, describing the effect of students who discover how beneficial volunteering is and want to continue. Sun identifies peer to peer interaction, through events like AC Day 1, as being their most successful ‘recruitment’ tool and hopes more first-year students wondering how to contribute to the many great events at Algonquin will find their way to the AC Hub.