By: Sarah Newton

Thousands of students, parents and guidance counselors from across Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec came to Algonquin Nov. 1 to experience firsthand why college is an increasingly attractive post-secondary option.

Display tables for programs decorated the cafeteria, gym and ACCE building throughout the day, filled with promotional material as students arrived by the busload during the morning and evening. Among the more unusual displays were non-alcoholic custom bar shots, crash test dummies, interactive video demonstrations and more.

“I think when you’re 17 and you’re in high school everyone pushes university a lot,” said University of Ottawa biology student Brianne Smith, 21, who is considering the college’s lab technician program. “And really, I could have a career by now if I’d just thought about it for another week or so and just come to college.”

Shorter program lengths, lower tuition and more opportunities for work placement are making college, and Algonquin in particular, a huge draw in the uncertain economy. In a time when finding work can be difficult, college can offer students both experience and a respected academic learning environment, with programs designed to suit the demands of the job world and the needs of students.

“What they’re doing is they’re trying to see what the value is, like ‘what can I do if I take this,’” said Antonios Vitaliotis, coordinator of Algonquin’s bartending program. “The fact that they could manage a restaurant, they could actually take care of beverages at a hotel or on a cruise ship. Those things are beneficial, after they realize it.”

Representatives from the bartending program offered specially prepared non-alcoholic Algonquin ras-mojitos for the occasion, a display in keeping with school colours and containing a variety of tastes and textures in each shot to please the palette. The program itself is 15 weeks long, offering courses such as mixology and cost control and a practical field placement.

Students from both high school and university took the opportunity to speak with staff, audit classes and go on tours around campus during the open house. There were also informative displays about student services in the Student Commons, as well as an Ontario Colleges display in T-building.

“We do it every year,” said Chris Brennan, Algonquin graduate and events manager with the college’s public relations department. “This year we have three open houses. This is the biggest open house that we have of the year, and the most displays, and we have another one in the winter and another in the spring.”

Brennan and student recruitment manager Anne Kalil, both of whom helped organize the event, estimated that over 50 busloads of visitors came to experience what the college has to offer and that the response was largely positive.
For more information about programs and open houses at the college, visit