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Thousands of CEGEP students prep for online learning

MONTREAL (CityNews) – Thousands of students are starting their post-secondary education at General and Vocational Colleges or Collèges d’Enseignement Général et Professionnel (CEGEPs) in French, like John Abbott College, but it’s a little different this year.

With most classes going online, many students will be spending the semester learning from home.

“I’d rather be at home then present a risk to my family,” said Éric Arsenault, who’s starting his first year at John Abbott College.

“I have to do theatre online. So that’s gonna be a bit of a challenge. You typically have your whole stage crew and all the actors and directors so I don’t know how we’re gonna do that. But it’s gonna be nice to have a challenge and really adapt to the situation.”

Eager students usually fill the campus of John Abbott College and the other 47 CEGEPs this time of year, but now the campuses are deserted.

“The vast majority of classes are online so people are not here. It’s a really different start than what we’re used to,” explained Debbie Crib, communications manager at John Abbott College.

Some of the courses that require hands-on learning will still take place in person.

With most courses going virtual, students like Arsenault that are starting their first year worry they’ll miss out on the college experience.

“That’s the one thing I’m kinda sad about, because everyone’s telling me, ‘you’re gonna love CEGEP, it’s so great. You get to meet all these new people.’ I’m not having all these social interactions I’m used to,” said Arsenault.

The school hopes to curb some of that disappointment. They’re still planning voluntary social activities on campus with safety measures in place.

“We’re trying to really focus on first-year students to have that feeling of college life, of being part of John Abbot,” explained Crib. “There’s activities being set up on campus. There are clubs, there are teams they can come and try out for so they can come on campus.

“Everyone else is doing CEGEP online so I’m not gonna sit here and be sad and grumpy. I will be sad to miss out on seeing my friend but I love that we’re being responsible. I’m proud of that and will do it for the safety of a human life.”