Algoma: Low-down on small-school education

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Sarah Devon, 21

It’s likely that when you’re considering options for post-secondary education, Algoma University might get lost among big-name schools such as Queen’s, McGill or U of T. It is a small school in the northern Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie—“the Soo,” as we call it—which lacks the glamour of Toronto or Montreal, not to mention that winters here are cold and long. If you are looking for an undergraduate experience complete with fancy bars and a vibrant nightlife, this isn’t the place for you.

If you’re moving away from home for the first time, Algoma U offers a familiar atmosphere and an undergraduate experience that will provide you with the foundation to pursue graduate studies or to be successful in the workplace.

There are many advantages to attending a small school. You won’t get lost in a sea of thousands of people; you will be among 40 other students in your first-year classes, not 400. Having one-on-one interaction with your professor and participating in seminar-style classes provides a learning environment that should not be undervalued. Though it is a cliché, it is very true that, at Algoma, you are more than just a number. As the university continues to grow, it offers new campus facilities, such as the biotech building, new residence buildings, and an updated gym that is home to our Thunderbirds basketball team. There is plenty of opportunity to celebrate the diverse cultures that make up our school’s student population, including Japanese, Italian, and French and, of course, indigenous people, known as Anishinaabe in Ojibwa . Located on the site of the former Shingwauk Indian Residential School, Algoma is dedicated to providing a respectful education for Anishinaabe students, as well as a cross-cultural learning experience for everyone else. Sociology, history, English and social work programs all integrate Anishinaabe studies into course work in an effort to preserve the deeply rooted Anishinaabe culture of Sault Ste. Marie, while educating students about a vital part of Canadian history.

The university offers fun extracurriculars that will get you into the beautiful outdoors. Join the Powderpuff football team to get in shape and have fun with the girls! If you have a passion for skiing or snowboarding, Algoma U is only a bus ride away from the Searchmount ski resort. Powwows, ceremonial feasts and soup and bannock days celebrate the rich Anishinaabe culture, while the Speakeasy pub offers karaoke nights, themed pub nights such as Mardi Gras, and live bands.

City Vibe
Sault Ste. Marie is a city that likes to eat. It offers plenty of locally owned grocery stores and sandwich shops, as well as some of the best Italian restaurants in the country. If you want to expand your tastebuds, Thai and sushi restaurants are close by. The shop-local mentality of the Soo ensures you receive quality service and products, from coffee shops like Dish to downtown boutiques on Queen Street and the Mill Market. The more outdoorsy like to take advantage of the beautiful waterfalls and trails at Hiawatha Park and the cross-city Hub Trail. Being a border town also has its advantages, so make sure you have your passport with you when you go “across” to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., for a night out at Zims or the Backdoor.

The Skinny
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