By: Dani-Elle Dubé

Event coordinator at Student Affairs, Sophia Bouris and student success specialist Dan Cuddy in the Student Commons building.


Striving for good grades and a well-rested self, pre-nuring student, Brunette Katombe, has sacrificed her social life. “I haven’t seen my friends since, maybe, Christmas break.”

The college triangle, what Katombe is trying to manage, is a concept where students are told they can choose two of the three options —sleep, good grades or a social life — that will determine their success at college.

“It’s a very common issue for students,” said Lisa Gallant-King, counsellor at Algonquin’s counselling services. “It’s priority setting, it’s time management.”

Sophia Bouris, event coordinator at Student Affairs and Orientation, said that although the concept tells students to choose two, it is possible to balance all three.

“It’s our job to put on a holistic experience for the student,” said Bouris. “Yes, they’re here to study but for my department we are here to create an experience.”

Gallant-King agrees.

“Not only are they all possible but they are also all necessary for good health,” explained Gallant-King. “I think what it comes down to is how you define each of those things and how a person sets their own priorities.”

For student success specialist, Dan Cuddy, the triangle has become a square if students factor in their part-time jobs and is still possible to achieve.

“If you do a one-to-one ratio, one hour of class to one hour of homework, for the most part that’s not going to exceed 40 hours, which is no different than the average person who works 40 hour work weeks,” said Cuddy. “And these people still have time to sleep and do social things with their friends.”

The possibility of having all three may work for some than for others, but Gallant-King sees the toll the pressure takes on students who undertake too much.

“Students come to college in different stages in their lives,” she said. “Especially for students coming from high school, a lot of times they’re moving from a more structured environment to a less structured environment. They’re coming from a place where their teachers and parents helped them with a lot of their time management challenges and now suddenly it’s all on them.”

According to College Ontario, Algonquin’s graduation rates increased to 5,772 in 2009 from 5,072 in 2008, despite Statistics Canada reporting a 2.4 per cent increase in stress experienced by Canadians over 15 years old during that period.

If students feel overwhelmed, said Cuddy, there are programs and support networks at the college that can help people through stressful situations. For those looking to avoid these circumstances, Cuddy suggests a more proactive approach.

“You have to understand that time management is extraordinarily important,” he said. “You have to have a routine and the discipline to follow through with that routine.”