Greetings, and a very warm welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog! We’ve covered the neighbourhoods of Kitchener-Waterloo, Kitchener and Waterloo themselves, and many more of the great places and things in the regions.
Time and again, the major post-secondary institutions located in Kitchener-Waterloo have come up – after all, they are a big part of what makes the area great, and they’ve certainly played a major role in the Waterloo Region’s rise to the world stage as a leader in technology.
So now, WRX Property Group is brimming with pride as we unveil a brand new, three-part series on post-secondary education! Today, we’ll start with Conestoga College; but don’t fret, perennial favourites Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo are just around the corner.
Conestoga College is the local college for the TriCities (Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge) and the surrounding Townships, and the only local provider of polytechnic education. To clarify, in Canada college refers to primarily to technical schools with programs geared towards specific careers; universities, on the other hand, are institutions that grant undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
There is some overlap between the two (both can grant Bachelor’s Degrees, for example) but typically colleges are more ‘applied’ or hands on, whereas universities are more theoretical.
Conestoga College was established in 1967; its original name was Conestoga College of Applied Arts and Technology. This was a major period of growth for skill-oriented colleges in Canada. In 1967 alone, 16 new public colleges opened in Ontario (roll out the red carpet for career-eager baby boomers!).
Conestoga has expanded its range of programs over time, and it has opened quite a few additional campuses since then (more on those shortly). According to the Conestoga website, it offers more than 200 career-focused programs, making it the most extensive college outside of Toronto.
Currently, Conestoga College has around 13 000 full-time students (part-time students brings the total to 30 000, and there are over 3000 apprenticeship students). Also according to the Conestoga website, the institution serves a fundamental role in the Region’s growth and success.
Over half of its graduates remain in the area, contributing over $2 billion to the local economy (which should really go to show that there are great rewards to reap when you invest in education – short-term cost, long-term gain).
Conestoga College has several campuses. Doon Campus is the college’s main, and original, location – it’s also the largest. It’s located in the southern part of Kitchener (by the old village of Doon). Conveniently, it’s right beside Highway 401 (near the area where Highway 8 connects with it), and it’s off of Homer Watson Boulevard (one of Kitchener-Waterloo’s major arterial streets) so it’s pretty easy to get to from other parts of the TriCities.
Just a fifteen minute walk south of the Doon Campus, on the other side of the 401, is the Cambridge Campus. It’s Conestoga’s newest location (as of 2017), and at 260 000 square feet, it’s also quite large (with plans to make it even larger).
Its sleek, mirrored façade is visually stirring; it serves as the headquarters of Conestoga’s School of Engineering and Information Technology, and also offers programs in Trades and Food Processing. Note that Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI) runs a free, daily shuttle for students travelling between the Doon Campus, Cambridge Campus, and the main Residence (across from Doon Campus); it also makes grocery runs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (learn more here).
Further southeast is the downtown Cambridge location in East Galt, which provides several academic upgrading and continuing education opportunities. The Waterloo campus (located on the bustling University Avenue) offers quite a few programs, including Skilled Trades and a variety of career-focused options.
The Guelph Campus offers a number of programs related to the automotive industry. The Brantford Campus provides programs in Business and Health Office Administration, as well as a few others. The Ingersoll campus focuses on electricity and power-related fields.
Finally, the Stratford location offers academic upgrading, continuing education, and more.
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Since its inception as an Applied Arts and Technology school, Conestoga has expanded its offerings considerably. Since 2003, it’s offered Mechanical Engineering and Architecture (Project and Facility Management). They’ve also added Bachelor’s programs in Integrated Telecommunication and Computer Technology and Applied Health Sciences; these are all full Bachelor’s Degrees, and Conestoga is the only college in Ontario to offer an accredited engineering degree.
Beyond these programs, Conestoga has extensive opportunities in a wide range of fields. There are Full-time and Part-time options; Accelerated programs for students who’ve already received a degree; one, two, three, and four year programs; Apprenticeships; and much more.
Of course, it’s best to peruse the Conestoga College website yourself and see what they offer. Application instructions can be found here.
There are three major university partnerships available at Conestoga College. They offer the Masters of Business Administration degree (it is, indeed, a Master’s Degree) in conjunction with the University of Windsor. Furthermore, students interested in Conestoga’s health care programs have several options: for example, students can become an RPN (Registered Practical Nurse) by pursuing the two-year Practical Nursing program, or a PSW (Personal Support Worker) by pursuing the one-year Personal Support Worker Program.
But students aiming to become an RN (Registered Nurse) have another great option: the Nursing BScN. This is a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree that is offered in conjunction with Mohawk College and McMaster University.
Students will complete the entire four-year program at Conestoga’s Doon Campus, and the degree will be granted by McMaster. There is also a program for RPN’s to upgrade to the BScN offered at Conestoga. Please note that the nursing programs are highly competitive; the BScN and Practical Nursing programs each accept 120 students per term (for September or January).
Finally, Conestoga and Wilfrid Laurier University offer a combined Bachelor’s/certificate program at their Brantford campus.
Conestoga has a vibrant, diverse student population. Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI) works to ensure students are engaged with their community; they host events throughout the year, and provide a wide range of services. Athletics is a big part of the college experience, as well; Conestoga’s team name (and mascot) is the Condor.
There are plenty of Varsity and Extramural athletic opportunities to participate in or watch, as well as a fully-equipped Student Recreation Centre. A fun feature of student life at Conestoga is that students in certain programs wear their specific uniforms on campus, so you’ll see Police Foundations students in their distinctive outfits walking alongside nurses in their program-specific scrubs.
It underlines the fact that this is a career-focused institution; students attend Conestoga College to work toward a specific job, and it provides them with the skills and certification necessary to succeed.
Conestoga College provides degree programs that have been shown to lead to gainful employment. It offers a wide variety of programs – it’s a great school, and one of the Waterloo Region’s most vital institutions.
Written by Will Kummer