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Columbia International College:
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Grades 9 TO 12 — Hamilton, ON (Map)


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Columbia International College:
THE OUR KIDS REPORT
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Roundtable Q&A Discussion About Columbia International College (2021)

Columbia International College alumni, current students, and parents shared their insights on the school’s culture, values, strengths, and weaknesses. Hear what Yeva, Justin, Arama had to say about the school.

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Highlights from the Q&A discussion

Yeva — alum

Yeva is an international Student from the Ukraine who graduated from Columbia International College in May 2021, and is now moving on to the University of Toronto for their international relations program. Yeva was involved in extracurriculars like Student Council, the dance and cheerleading varsity team, and was a member of the Model United Nations Club. She was recognized with the ‘Most Outstanding Delegate” certificate at the last Model UN conference, and was chosen to be the Secretary General of the Global Summit Model UN. Yeva felt that the staff, teachers, and peers at Columbia International College were like a second family that extends past her years at the school.

  • “What I really appreciated when I studied at [Columbia International College] was the people I met there. They were unique, they were bright, and they were grasping and interesting. Those people that I met, we had many situations together. We shared our emotions together with friends, and shared different moments of our lives. Now that I have graduated from [Columbia International College], and in general looking back, I realized that I'm very grateful not only for the people who I have met, but also for the experience that was given to me by this school. I realized that [Columbia International College] has made me stronger as a person, that's for sure.”
  • “I really appreciate the people at [Columbia International College], even teachers because we still talk to each other. We mail each other on the birthdays, and have some celebrations [together]. I'm so happy because I've got new friends, and new family members, I would say, because some of them really became my close friends, my close circle.”
  • “I changed many schools in my life, because I moved here from the Ukraine, and then I studied for one year in Canada in another school. I realized that [Columbia International College] was the best one. … By attending different schools, I can definitely say that [Columbia International College] is different from other schools because of its atmosphere. I'm a sensitive person, and I am emotional sometimes, so it's really important to me which atmosphere I study in, and with whom I am communicating. It actually influences you as a person and your academic success as well.”
  • “The selection of teachers at [Columbia International College] is unique, because all the teachers who taught me were just outstanding professionals, and most importantly, they were all human, and always willing to help, which I appreciated the most. The school team is very well organized. ... The wellness team, guidance counsellors, the residents, cafeteria staff, and the liaison officers as well, were very helpful. Every time something happened, we had the opportunity to ask for suggestions, for advice, and for help.”
  • “[During] my application process to university. ... At that time I was stressed. It sounded to me like something very scary. It actually turned out that application was the easiest thing and went very smoothly once I started figuring out each step. Whenever I had any questions [about my university applications], I could ask my guidance counselor, and they would help me with all the questions … about deadlines, reference letters and other details. They were ready to give suggestions and to provide helpful information at that time about universities, and also workshops that [Columbia International College] held. They were useful, and everything was explained step by step.”
  • “Yeah. She helped me a lot with my application process to UCLA in San Diego, California. She assisted me with my application letter, and when I was asking her for some corrections, or maybe ideas. I just had the support at each stage of my [university] application process, especially during COVID, which was really stressful.”
  • “I just think that also [Columbia International College's] high reputation, good quality of education, and close relationship with universities, are so important. … And I think that helped me a lot to get where I am right now.”
  • “My parents were surprised by the number of clubs, programs, and teams offered at [Columbia International College]. … Because in my previous schools, I didn't have such opportunities. So they didn't expect that from [Columbia International College]. ... They were so surprised with that one.”
  • “My parents didn't expect the [Columbia International College] to be able to provide such a diverse student experience. They really appreciated that. ... I had a great opportunity to develop as a person. All my leadership skills, critical thinking skills, and working skills [I learned] being a part of the diverse community.”
  • “You feel like home at [Columbia International College], and it gives you more confidence when you are at school, and you feel like you are home.”
  • “I realized that [Columbia International College] helped me to find new friends … and some of them became part of my life and stayed there.”
  • “[I learned new skills at Columbia International College] that helped me get to where I am now, and also taught me to not be afraid of new challenges, because to graduate was a challenge. Calculus was so hard for me as well, it was a challenge, but I know that it's worth it and [Columbia International College] helped me with that a lot.”

Justin — alum

Justin is an international student from Hong Kong who graduated from Columbia International College in 2021. He is now enrolled at the University of Toronto in their humanities, social science, and business program. Justin enjoyed the school's inclusive atmosphere and social events that helped him make new friends from all over the world. He appreciated all the support the staff and teachers provided to him during his time there, and feels that he learned many essential skills that have prepared him for university and beyond.

  • “What I appreciated the most about [Columbia International College] is that they have an open culture and an environment where everyone is respected. [Columbia International College] often hosts events that help students make friends easily. .... The Terry Fox Run would be an example of an [Columbia International College] event. [Columbia International College] has hosted the Terry Fox Run for over the past 40 years, every year, and it is a fundraiser event for students to donate, and have fun with their friends. I was able to make friends there by participating.”
  • “All of the activities [available] show how [Columbia International College] is a very good school, that allows students to participate in co-curricular activities other than academics. It allows you to understand more about Canadian culture. ... Now that I've moved, and gotten some distance from the school, my perspective is that I'm very proud of myself for being able to graduate from high school with the Total Care Team’s support. I believe that everyone in my grade should feel a sense of pride from graduating.”
  • “I want to raise some examples on how the Total Care team has supported me throughout my journey. I want to thank the Principal of [Columbia International College] for helping me arrange tutoring sessions, and supporting me when I was struggling with my English in my courses. I would also like to thank the tutoring teacher who has helped me with my English process as well, and also all other English-related assignments. I've learned that support is very important in this case. Just ask. whenever you need it, and they will always be here for you overall.”
  • “[Columbia International College] is different from other schools because of the huge amount of resources that are available to students. … [The student] Liaison Officer is there to help you to communicate with your parents. On top of that, you can also ask your Liaison Officer a general inquiry about the school, for example, how fees should be paid, when they are due, or other stuff.”
  • “Students also have access to a counsellor at [Columbia International College]. Counsellors support you whenever you're stressed. I have experienced this once before when I was in English classes, I was very stressed that I didn't know where I could get help, or how I could relieve my stress. I couldn't think about anything, because I was too worried about university. I went to see my counsellor, she gave me some advice, and guided me through, and I found it really helpful at that point. ... The medical team is basically available for students 24/7 to provide a system whenever it is needed.”
  • “Security is there to support students' safety. … Here at [Columbia International College], security is a very friendly department, that helps students not only for safety, but they are here to help you [in other ways]. You can contact them and they might be able to find it for you.”
  • “Every teacher, I believe, at [Columbia International College] gives students at least one hour of academic support every week. If you are afraid to ask in front of the class, you're more than welcome to attend academic support and ask questions there. Because the students are not there, and you won't be embarrassed to ask more personal questions about that subject. Therefore, [students] have all of the resources that you need.”
  • “I think three [words to describe Columbia International College] would be resourceful, supportive, and successful.”
  • “I've been forming friendships with students from other nationalities through events… I formed a friendship with a Vietnamese student. ... This student lived in Vietnam before attending [Columbia International College], and I learned about his culture, language, and food. ... I also learned some Vietnamese [language], and fortunately he was able to learn some Cantonese as well, so we exchanged some knowledge.”
  • “My most favorite part of [Columbia International College] was the regional dinner event. I think in the past I've attended the Vietnamese one, and I think also the African one. I think both of them were excellent. I got to meet new friends, and the food was quite good. Meeting new friends over dinner, and chilling, and talking about school, talking about life. It's just wonderful. It's an amazing life. [Columbia International College] hosts events that encourage students to meet each other.”
  • “[Columbia International College] is totally different. The principal and vice-principal often participate in events, and treat you like they are your friend or your family, and you can always feel free to talk to them. That's what me and my family feel. … I would like to point out that how the school is structured is very systematic. Help and support are always there, not only for students, but for parents as well. My parents have actually contacted the school a few times, and the responses come back pretty fast from Columbia International College, they are very responsive.”
  • “[Students] don't need to worry about what the residence can provide to you, because they have all the necessary items that you need for daily use. .... The residence is able to provide you with all necessities. You don't need to worry about what you need to bring to Canada. Just bring what you [think you] need, and even if you forget something, don't worry about it.”
  • “The [Columbia International College] Liaison team is here for [students]. The resident team is here for [students]. So there will always be a solution.”

Arama — alum

Arama is an international student from Ghana, who graduated from Columbia International College in 2013. She then went to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor's degree in the Arts. Arama believes that Columbia International College helped her gain the confidence she needed for her future success. She appreciated how the staff and teachers at the school went above and beyond to listen to students and give them what they needed to feel comfortable in the diverse, multicultural environment. She now works at the school as an Admissions Officer in the Visa Department.

  • “What I do appreciate most about [Columbia International College] is just being surrounded by diverse countries and cultures. Coming from Ghana, and after being in Ghana for 17 years and coming to Canada and [Columbia International College], that was definitely a culture shock. I am a very shy person, so it was very difficult to speak up and make friends. I realized that in classes when I was at [Columbia International College] in 2013, I was able to communicate and speak more easily with people in my class, because we had activities that allowed us to introduce ourselves, and just know where we're coming from.”
  • “My music teacher made it really fun, and he made it really easy to connect [with other students], because he would put us in different diverse groups, and then we would sing together and then we would speak, and then we would just have an exciting time together. I am so thankful that I was part of [Columbia International College], because I haven't been anywhere else with so much diversity, and so much mixing of cultures and just getting to know one another. Having a little distance from [Columbia International College], I'm able to see how I can communicate more easily, and more freely with people from other cultures, where I wasn't in the past.”
  • “I would say [what differentiates the school is] how heavily diverse Columbia [International College] is. It makes me so happy just to see different cultures coming together. Not only the students, the teachers, and the staff. … We're all from different countries, and we're all coming together to work together. It's been so awesome to be able to learn some languages by speaking, and then sometimes by asking questions. ... It makes me so happy just to see people from different parts of the world coming together.”
  • “There's no greater joy than unity and diversity. I believe there's so much power in that. Seeing other people coming together for experiences [at Columbia International College], just to be more informed about other cultures. Then, for example, if you were to [travel] anywhere, you have a little bit of information about what to do, and how to do it, and also how not to offend, as well. It's also very important to respect everyone around you.”
  • “In three words, if [Columbia International College] was a person, I would describe their personality as creative, driven, and enthusiastic.”
  • “I'm very excited and thankful for the whole [Columbia International College] team for listening to the students. That shows how [Columbia International College] really cares about their students. This is total care in action, showing that they hear the students, they hear you, and do what they're asking them to do.”
  • “I would say [parents would be most surprised about] the total care system at [Columbia International College]. I believe most parents hear about this, but actually, total care being put in action is a different topic altogether. I believe when parents see that [Columbia International College] genuinely cares for the kids, puts the kids first, and makes sure that their needs are met, that the parents can be at ease, and very peaceful. I strongly believe that this surprises them so much because you can always hear something, but you don't always see it. You hear the students talking about how [Columbia International College] has helped them so much, how they have been there for them, how they can easily get access to the staff and the councillors, and all the other resources.”
  • “[Columbia International College] truly are working for the better of the students, and for the better of the school. … And how much [Columbia International College] is going to also impact [students’] university [pathway] through the values and the experiences they take from [Columbia International College], and the whole total care system.”
  • “I was a very shy student at [Columbia International College]. It was very difficult to speak up, and ask questions to my teachers. Then the teachers made it so easy. [Columbia International College] has a very friendly staff. So I took the opportunity to ask. The staff are so nice and accommodating, and they're there to help you.”
 

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