Every student has a story.
Read how the Ontario College Faculty Strike is affecting the unfortunate third party: college students.
I am a mature student, and I worked through homelessness and adversity to get the credits that I needed to get into my program. This strike has left me feeling invalidated about the bounds of struggles and hardships that I overcame to get here. I wanted to move forward with my life, and now I am at a standstill.
– Anonymous, St. Lawrence College
For the past 2 years it has been my goal to study mental health and addictions at Canadore College. I stayed back a year to work and save up enough to uproot myself from London Ontario. In August 2017, I made the hike up to North Bay, my acceptance in hand. Now I have completed a month of school and 5 weeks of strike. I am $6000 in debt, running out of my life savings. I am losing hope.
– Makayla, Canadore College
I’m a single mom, I commute around ten hours a week to get to and from school. I’m set to graduate in April 2018, and I have a good job lined up to start at the end of April too. If we lose the semester and have to restart, that puts my future and my five-year-old son’s future in jeopardy because I wouldn’t be able to accept this new job. The money I’ve spent on gas and parking this semester would go to waste as well. On the other hand, if they don’t restart the semester, I lose out on learning anything that will be cut out. I paid to learn everything. That extra course material they may be cutting out can make a huge difference when it comes down to getting a job when you graduate.
– Kennedee, Algonquin College
I was excited. This is supposed to be my last year of nursing school. That excitement has been stolen from me! I should be done school in June, but now it’s looking like I won’t be, my national exam is going to be late, and I won’t be able to apply to university either. Oh and OSAP is running out too!
– Anonymous, Canadore College
I was supposed to move to Timmins from Sudbury for my placement which is a year long, I signed a lease at the beginning of October and gave my notice to my current landlord for December 31st, now they want to push the semester into January and I have no where to live.
– Megan, Cambrian College
"This strike literally leaves my future/life in limbo."
The strike is going to impact my future career plans immensely. I had signed a contract to start work December 18th full time with a great employer. My last day of exams was supposed to be December 14th. I have already committed to living accommodations where I am supposed to begin full-time employment, which is over 600km from the college I am 'attending'. This strike literally leaves my future/life in limbo.
– Ben, Northern College - Kirkland Lake Campus
I’m afraid that with this strike I’m never going to be able to learn the proper ways to save someone’s life. I have lost all motivation and am seriously considering dropping out to avoid the insane amount of pressure that’ll be put on us students when the strike finally ends.
– Gabrielle, College Boréal
As a student that went from university to college, this is a disgrace. I sacrificed 2 years to get into university. My sophomore year was the worst academically, and it took me time to recover after withdrawing after it. I committed myself to study harder while suffering with financial and mental health concerns. I go to school to learn, and have opportunities to socialize and grow. I want to take responsibility for my future except the strike is unfair for all students in the first place as a lot of damage has been done.
My parent is a college professor. My family is currently paying my sister and I’s tuition, while we remain out of classes. He’s on the line every single day, rain or shine. This strike has not only impaired my education, but also my family. My family is struggling to financially provide for us, due to the strike. I wish the college administrators would understand that this strike affects THOUSANDS of families. My anxiety and bipolar disorder have flared, due to the uncertainty of the strike. I’m constantly wondering how I’m going to pay for my groceries, and next bill. I urge the administrators to consider that strikes such as this affect the daily lives of whole families.
– Anonymous, Fleming College
For the five weeks I was in College, I was absolutely loving everything about it. I was excelling in ways I could have never imagined, and met so many great people (students, on-campus support, professors). Since the Strike has been going on, my sense of motivation, and focus has almost been lost. I've considered dropping out due to frustration, and my mental health has suffered greatly. I desperately want to be back in class, however I don't think that will be a reality.
– Sarah, St. Lawrence College
This strike has effected me most seeing I'm only in a one-year program. It's now going to be really hard when we go back because the teachers will need to cram everything in all at once before a certain time and that will be stressful on us students. I feel that if things were to work out now that the stress level would make a lot of student fail because of the workload that will be crammed in and the lack of holidays to regroup and see family.
– Natalie, Fanshawe College
I was raped almost two years ago and wasn't at a place to go to school after the assault. The trial was in June, so I felt ready to start college this past September now that it would all be behind me. I have loved school; I am so thankful for the opportunity to finally to be studying...until the Strike set in. Now i'm in a town I barely know, with a few friends waiting to go back to class. The most frustrating thing is that other victims have come forward (I am thankful for their courage and amazed at their strength) and the next trial is set for January. I have agreed to testify again, to support the other girls by being with them. So, with this "extending the semester plan" the trial will be during final exam week. I have already booked flights because I wanted to spend Christmas with my family before what will be a really difficult time for me. So, I'm not sure I'll be able to finish the semester since I will be away for three weeks at Christmas and don't know how my school will accommodate this.
– Anonymous, Conestoga College
I am a student at SLC Cornwall and a father of 3 living in a single income situation. I am doing a trades course while doing an apprenticeship. Not only do I need to pay for school I need $1000's worth of tools to do my job. Now with week 5 of the strike I remember next to nothing of what I learned prior to. I am stressed to go back knowing my course load is going to be more and that I still have to manage that, family, work and finances. I have had stress related medical conditions that have layed me up in bed for a week. I'm now feeling depressed and am full of anxiety. The only way I can see this going well is by restarting the semester. And even with that we would be out $1000's for the term we have missed so in a perfect world that would have to be dealt with too. Even though we have OSAP that OSAP is what allows a single income family member to pay living costs they could not cover without working full time so they are able to participate in school. This is detrimental to student health and success and a careless resource draining fiasco. It's illegal for a service provider to take your money and not give you the service you paid for so why are the schools getting away with it?
– Michael, St. Lawrence College Cornwall
"I'm now feeling depressed
and am full of anxiety."
I'm an International student with the stakes on my future having just shot up multifold. I have set aside 4 years of my life for my education, and fund followed by many zeros. I have relocated and terribly miss my family. I have turned all focus and effort towards doing a super job of my degree. All this while I understand why faculty are demanding what they're demanding. I empathize with them, I really do. BUT, for the Ministry/CEC to use north of 500,000 students' lives to bargain their way into business, is DOWNRIGHT UNETHICAL. Recovering this semester is not even remotely feasible, given the intensity of coursework for most of us. Are they really going to be so cheap as to try and get faculty to squeeze 10 weeks of class into 4 weeks?? Get real. We are not fools. Okay, take it that we are their best bargaining chip, but driving us to desperately beg for reimbursement???? Come on!! Don't stoop this low! Come out and give back to the students what is rightfully ours!
– Maryam, Sheridan College
I wanted to share how I’m feeling with the strike. I’m a student on placement, so one would think I would not be affected. However, before the strike happened I was attending counselling at my college for some personal issues and struggles. The strike has now caused me to be unable to attend counselling and get the support I need which has made it very hard for me to get up every morning and go to my placement. I have no one available at the school for me to talk to about how I feel at placement, how it’s affecting me and my mental health. I think it’s unethical that the counselling services were taken away especially at a time like this when so many of students need it, not knowing what the future means for us, money struggles, Seasonal Affective Disorder kicking in, anxiety about missing classes and assignments or hours at placement. It’s sad.
– Anonymous, Fleming College
This is my second time going to college. After having many life changing events happen to me including a marriage, separation, and a miscarriage, going to school has been a huge change for me at this point in my life. With everything that has happened, I was able to start seeing a counselor at the college as it's free for students. Since the strike, I haven't been able to see my counselor so I've become quite depressed. I'm not able to sleep well, and I'm not eating properly. I just want to be able to be back in class so I can focus on my goal to graduate.
- Anonymous, Conestoga College
I am a married woman who made a huge sacrifice to go back to school as a mature student; it has cost my wife and I nearly everything emotionally, mentally, and financially. With every day that goes by, I see my dream of becoming a nurse slipping away... correction- it’s being dragged away. I feel like a child in between two parents, in an ugly divorce. I am the one who is going to suffer the consequences of others actions. I wanted the chance for a better life, a better future for my family. Now, my faith, hope and trust is being drowned. My heart is broken, as is my spirit.
- Heather, Fleming College
As a student who suffers with mental health challenges, the disruption to my schedule has been extremely hard to deal with. The constant anxiety about all of the unknowns of my future and the disruption to my routines has caused my depression to surface again, and I️ can’t access my councillor who I️ trust for help. Other resources aren’t the same when you’ve already built a rapport with your faculty. I️ really need my teachers, my counsellors and my education back.
- Anonymous, Sault College
For the five weeks I was in college, I was absolutely loving it. I was excelling in ways I could have never imagined, and met so many great people (students, on-campus support, professors). Since the strike, my motivation and focus has almost been lost. I've considered dropping out due to frustration, and my mental health has suffered greatly. I desperately want to be back in class, however I don't think that will be a reality.
- Sarah, St. Lawrence College
I have straight A’s which might be not be worth anything if we lose this semester. I also have a babysitter until the end of April, so if we lose this semester and we have to go on past April, I will have no one to watch my child so I can succeed in my schooling. I’m trying to better our lives; I don’t think taking on an OSAP loan for education I’m not getting is helping that goal.
- Anonymous, Sault College
"I desperately want to be back in class, however I don't think that will be a reality."
As someone who suffers from clinically diagnosed anxiety and an adjustment disorder, this strike has become so stressful it has actually caused me to go back onto medication to overcome the angst. As someone who has been hospitalized twice for these issues, I cannot take another day. I feel I have become a prisoner within my education financially and emotionally. I fear I mentally will not be able to handle the stress of trying to make up this lost time and will find my mental health at the bottom of the barrel, a place I have worked so hard to come out of. As much as I stand for my teachers and their rights, I also have to put myself as a student first.
- Anonymous, Conestoga College
As someone who has been in post-secondary school for the past 7 years, this was supposed to be my eighth and final year. I have been pushing myself to the breaking point so that I can make a difference in the lives of young people. This strike has limited my chances of graduating on time. I have put thousands of dollars into my education and deserve to get what I paid for, when I paid for it. I'm not getting OSAP to sit at home and hope for the best. This strike has caused immense stress and anxiety for me and my peers and we deserve answers and deserve to get the best education we can!
- Dayna, Fleming College
I am in my final year of the social service worker native specialization program at Sault College. I have had a 4.0 GPA since I came to Sault College and have had the goal to go to Laurentian University. I was recently accepted there. Everything was going great and my plan was moving in the right direction till the strike happened. See I have a conditional offer from Laurentian that I have to maintain a 4.0 until I graduate. We have been out of class for 30 days now and the idea of maintaining my GPA seems tougher and tougher. I have placement hours to get and assignments to hand in. I’m supposed to be starting classes for Laurentian online in January and on campus in the summer. If I can’t finish on time I don’t know how to do that. Everyone thinks that taking away our breaks are the answer but everything just seems lost already because of how long we have been out. I want the education I paid for. I don’t want to be behind on the learning curve because of this strike. I want answers and I want to get back to class. Not only is my semester and education in jeopardy but also my future. Ps: I’m also a student with disabilities and this strike doesn’t allow me to meet with my counsellor at school and help maintain my health and well-being.
– Karina, Sault College
This strike has me not only stressed about tuition, money and, payments but also deadlines, work load, and rushing that could happen in the result that we do return to class. During these last 5 weeks I have been unable to work due to the uncertainty of our return to school and now will be unable to work seasonal during the holidays that have been said to be removed from us. As a student attending college there is already a large amount of stress on us, but with the strike there is now even more. I'm afraid that I won't be able to pass the semester if we return!
– Nicole, Conestoga College
Since 2009, I went into many programs trying to reach the one program I wanted and that was ECE. Now I lost all hope and am going to drop out. I have been fighting depression ever since I can remember and school was never easy now that the strike happened I've been mentally locked in my house because I am unable to handle the stress. I can't work pass this and I have lost so much already. I have no support system and I've been out of a job since August. I don't know who to ask for help. It's hard coming back to school after you've given up and have this happen. All my life I've wanted to become a teacher and inspire and after I get into the program and only a month into school we go on strike for a month...I have lost all my friends, I have gained weight because I can't afford to go to the gym, and no one in Windsor is hiring. You know what this has cost me...My Future.
– Sherry, St. Clair College
I feel disrespected as a human and as a student. Feeling as though we as students are bargaining chips is an awful feeling. I am truly disgusted with the disrespect of the extent of the strike and how we are being treated.
- Stephanie, Durham College
I've been in and out of college for the past 6 years, and in 2015 I finally chose a program towards the career I wanted. I started my final year and the last year of college is supposed to be exciting, but this strike had to come in and ruin it. Now I see my dream of becoming a pharmacy technician being taken from me. I just want to graduate next June.
- Emily, Humber College
"I feel disrespected as a human and as a student."
Be patient they said. No one ever lost a semester they said. I want to thank the government and Wynne on behalf of half a million of us for the integrity and respect they have shown us. I hope the teachers vote no and get what they want. I hope the colleges get their just desserts for not calling this vote in September. Now if someone would just be honest with us and tell us the semester is null and void. Restart in January. I heard you loud and clear today Wynne. You won't mandate faculty back to work. I certainly don't want to be taught by a teacher who is reaming of anger. I don't want to learn how to do any part of taking care of a sick person in a hurry. With the damage from all sides inflicted upon us, the least you can do is make sure we get some equity. Since you all care so much. That's my opinion. As much as it hurts...the reality of the situation needs realistic expectations of us. I can't be a great nurse if I get half-ass education. I am willing to forego my summer. So many are. Because we didn't pay to be half-ass nurses. Who pass.
– Vycki, St. Clair College
I know its probably not your problem or fault. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t have the best of mental health and never was the most upstanding person, however, I turned my life around and one of the registrars last January gave me hope I could do it and I could start my future. For my son and my family. So I quit my full-time job and encouraged my partner to follow his dreams too because being on the campus of St. Clair College everyday gave me hope and purpose that I was going to go further in life than my parents. That I wouldn’t disappoint my son. Its just been a real struggle with this strike and not knowing what’s going on. And were not middle-class so I subsidize my daycare and I can’t increase my income for this year because I needed the daycare cheaper so I could keep coming to school so we did an income reassessment. And I started dressing for success because I knew I’d be a kick-ass accountant before my son started school and now I don’t know if that’s going to happen. I feel like I have lost my way. This is my dream and I feel its being ripped away because the council cannot just let the faculty have what they want. So were strong armed into being bargaining chips. And you can’t even reach Kathleen Wynne as a nobody. I guess what I mean to say is I miss being in a place everyday that filled me with a sense of being and purpose. Because prior to enrolling and scrapping together my last OSAP, actually my whole life, I never thought if amount to anything really until 2 years ago when I received my acceptance letter. I just want to go back to school.
– Anonymous, St. Clair College
I have a learning disability/mental health disability/chronic pain disorder. It has taken me 3 long years to get into the nursing program. I have pushed myself to get this far and now I have nothing to show for it, I have relapsed in all my conditions because of the stress. I have been sick since this all started and it doesn't look like it's going to go away any time soon. Because of this, there is no way for me to succeed if/when we come back to school. I am now being forced to bring myself back to health on my own and put off my future for another year. I have been in post-secondary education for 7/8 years now, pushing myself because this is what I want. Now it has been taken away from me. – Anonymous
I was supposed to finish my studies in December 2017. According to that, I had my plans to start working full-time from January. After that, I planned to go back home and get engaged. But now all my plans are ruined. I don't know when I get my full time job and no idea about my engagement as well. I am getting short on my funds, and I have my education loan installment starting from February. Now, what I am supposed to do?
– Anonymous, Centennial College
I have a learning disability and being in class helped me do well. Being on strike hasn’t helped me study at all. I’m distracted and not focused and getting extra jobs and hours at work since I’m free to now and well, I gotta pay OSAP back at some time.
– Anonymous, George Brown College
"I've lost my momentum
I've lost my momentum and drive, I feel like I am quickly losing the information I learned since I am no longer interacting with and building on it on a daily basis. I had an average in the 90s before the strike and I'm terrified this interruption will result in a decline of grades. If my average drops below 90, I will not get into the program I left my full-time career to pursue for next fall. This is costing students a lot more than the thousands spent on tuition, transportation, rent... not to mention if the semesters are extended, we will have to incur more costs such as an additional month of rent before the semester ends that many cannot afford to do without returning to work full-time by May.
Have you ever been unemployed, where your days stretch into weeks, you feel unproductive and directionless, and you see no end in sight? That’s how this college strike feels, except it's completely out of my control. Without knowing when it will end, its hard to know whether to commit to long term volunteering or work to use time effectively. There are so many things I would have done had I known it would last a month; instead I feel like I'm treading water and getting nowhere. It's definitely taken a toll on my mental health. I didn't quit a full time stable job, pay tuition, and move to one of the most expensive cities in the country to be locked out of the classroom and have my future put on hold. – Emily, Centennial College
I’m an international student, my tuition is 2 to 3 times higher than others, plus the accommodation fee in total, about 10 thousand to be spent every semester just to make me possible to study here in Ontario. Now, I don't even know why I'm here. – Anonymous
I totally support the teachers’ right to strike, but before it started we were told to self teach the semester materials and keep on assignments. I am unable to focus on this or keep with because of my learning abilities. I pay to be taught, not to teach myself. The not knowing week by week, day by day, if we are still out of school has made my anxiety shoot through the roof. I can’t pick up hours at work since by the time I know for sure that I’m not going to be at school for the week they don’t have any hours to give me. If we end up with an extended semester, I won’t be able to work over the Christmas break to ensure I can pay my bills.
What I think is most appalling about this strike is how poorly students are being treated. We are being told to just be patient and accept the process, while simultaneously shouldering the heaviest burden. I no longer have confidence in the ability of the OPSEU or the CEC to negotiate a deal before our semester is lost, if it hasn't already. I sympathize with the faculty and the issue of precarious employment, but this has gone on far too long. If the vote this week does not end the strike, then the Ontario government must intervene.
– Anonymous, Humber College
I am a mature student trying to complete my Social Service Worker diploma through Ontario Second Career. I am a Mother of two young girls and basically trying to get my life back on track for myself and my family. I went back to school wanting to make a difference, and changed careers so I could give back to my community and help others... Now, I have no idea what this means for me, and my family. I love my program and am so eager to get back to it! I'm on the Dean's List and was hoping to pursue my Indigenous Designation, but with 5 weeks now gone we are slipping into more debt and I'm afraid to know where my second career and OSAP status stand! It's extremely stressful and scary not knowing where my future lies. I worry for myself, my girls, my family and our house! How will I get a decent job without my diploma, placement experience, and the connections I need to make so I can finally find a job I love and give back to others!?!
- Katherin, Fleming College
I have Aspergers Syndrome combined with frequent anxiety and a learning disability. I have a strong work ethic and a strike only worsens my anxiety because of the uncertainty. It's hard not to wake up in the morning and cry constantly when you realize it's still going on and you're losing time where you should be learning. I have been in and out of college for the past six years and right when I begin the homestretch, this happens. I am vulnerable, unable to do anything and I fear that my semester is lost, pushing back my graduation....again. I have very supportive parents who pay for my education, but they are frustrated with: difficulty helping me keep my spirits up, both parties for not thinking about how this impacts students, and the government for not doing anything. I am frustrated too. I don't deserve to be used as a pawn to settle a war between two parties and I definitely do not deserve to be shut out of class for this long. I want my education and my future back.
– Emily, Humber College
Is it really fair at this point to expect us, the students, to pick up where we left off in our studies and hit the ground running with mid-term exams? We have totally fallen out of our routine, our momentum is lost. Until the strike, we were fully immersed in our studies, learning and practicing our newly gained knowledge every day, so it was appropriate timing to have our mid-term exams while all the material was fresh in our minds and all we needed to do was review our course materials. Now, with 5 weeks lost, 5 weeks not learning and practicing, we have to re-learn everything in anticipation for our return to classes and immediate start of exams *72-hr grace period, granted* but is that really enough after all the time lost?! Colleges and faculty, please give at least this form of relief from all the detrimental effects of this strike to the students! We’ve already lost so much!
I was a struggling college student before the strike, but now even more so as my 4.5 hour a week job was working at the school. That small amount of money I was making helped with gas for my car and toward family Christmas gifts. Not working for the past month has definitely been very hard.
– Miranda, St. Clair College
As a student who is diagnosed with a learning disability, generalized anxiety disorder and depression, this strike has been heavily impacting my mental health. The first month and a half I was so happy to be studying Early Childhood Education and was doing so much better than I ever had in my previous degree. School sets a routine for me that helps me feel fulfilled and overall, helps my mental health stay at a functioning level. In these past five weeks, only working two days a week and being stuck four hours away from my home city I find myself slipping a lot faster, the uncertainty of when this strike will be over and the lack of questions being answered leaving me lost and defeated. I was so excited about this year and this new start but now I'm left feeling anxious over my future and depressed over the fact that my routine and purpose for moving four hours away from home is gone.
– Kira, Canadore College
I am a mom of two young children. I came to Fleming when I was newly married in 2014, with an 8 month old daughter. My experience was amazing. At the start of my 3rd semester of the Early Childhood Education program, I found out to my surprise that I was expecting. I am high risk, so I needed to reduce my course load to maintain a healthy pregnancy. My daughter had a difficult birth and we faced many challenges with her health, so I stayed a year at home with her. I returned this semester to finish my degree. It felt so wonderful to be back, doing what I love, at a school I adore. Then, without warning, the strike. It has devastated our family. We've gone into debt for my education. If the semester is scrapped, I lose my degree, as this is my last chance to complete it. Thousands of dollars wasted. Countless hours away from my beautiful babies for nothing. My dream destroyed. This has also damaged my health. I have anxiety and depression, and this strike, the uncertainty, the lack of communication, has magnified everything. I am having heart palpitations that I never had before, I'm not sleeping, I'm losing my hair, I can't eat, because I am terrified of my future and what's going to happen. I'm terrified of my children's future. To say I am devastated is an understatement. My life is in turmoil.
– Jessica, Fleming College
I am a mature student who waited to return to school so that my children could go first. I suffer from OCD. Something I usually find to be a bonus in my life of organization but this strike has worn me down. Having OCD means I need schedules and stability and although I can and do deal with stress fairly well this has dragged on too long for me. I closed 90% of my business to take this chance on more education and financially its hurting me. I cannot book the handful of clients I did keep more than 48 hours in advance as I don’t know what is going to happen from one day to the next with the strike. Having been told I will get 48 hours notice to return to class I am living in 48 hour increments. This has pushed me to a point of insomnia, anxiety, stress and even tears at times. Not knowing my future has caused extreme anxiety. I need organization, planning, schedules to function. The unknown is mentally and emotionally tolling. I feel like the ground opened up beneath me and I am hanging in the wind. I lost my momentum to study in week 4 of the strike and cannot get it back. My program needs a specific amount of hours in certain courses and I don’t think even the best of intentions could make it happen now. I just want a refund and to start over in January with a fair playing field not some crammed crash course that the college will dub as sufficient. I had to take a loan to go to college and will owe it with interest. A hardship I would not have had if I had not chosen school.
– Tonya, Fleming College