Algonquin College's AC Online Campus Fulfils Dream for Mom of Four

By AC Online Modified on November 23, 2020

Annie Sprouls pursued her dream of becoming an Early Childhood Educator with AC Online.

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Annie Sprouls dreamed for years of becoming an Early Childhood Educator (ECE).

When a friend studying at Algonquin College told her about the college's online program options, Sprouls heard a voice inside her head saying, 'Annie, you can do anything you set your mind to,' and began investigating.

With the love and support of her family, the 37-year-old mother of four and childhood cancer survivor enrolled at Algonquin College, and recently celebrated earning her ECE diploma and delivered the first-ever AC Online valedictorian address.

First-ever AC Online valedictorian

"These past two and a half years have been among the most challenging, exciting, emotional and blessed time of my life," said Sprouls. "I went from being a single, full-time working mother, to getting married, becoming pregnant with twins... which postponed my work and studies for a while... and then continued where I left off successfully completing the ECE program."

This spring marked the launch of Algonquin's digital-only AC Online Campus, which was created to meet the growing demand from leaners like Sprouls, who are looking for flexible, personalized and high-quality online education. Along with Early Childhood Education, AC Online features more than 65 online programs and 800 online courses, both part-time and full-time.

Dean of the AC Online Campus, Dr. Patrick Devey, said growth in online learners at the College had been spiking prior to the pandemic hitting. After the launch of the new campus in March, AC Online's numbers just kept climbing.

Part-time enrollments up 50 per cent

"Our part-time enrollments have surged 50 per cent since the spring. We could not have predicted that. On the full-time side, I have seen steady growth for years, but right now we are 25 per cent up year-over-year. So, there is growth on both ends," said Devey.

Prior to COVID-19, Algonquin College was already a leader in delivering online education not only in the Ottawa region, but across Ontario and Canada. It serves learners living in communities large and small, and has a strong presence in rural areas where access to quality post secondary education is not easily available in the traditional on-campus sense.

"Our system is set up to do your studies at your own pace within the 14-week semester. The whole experience is designed so you are able to complete your program with maximum flexibility from your home, office, or wherever you happen to be," said Devey.

While the practical nature and advance remote learning tools used by AC Online have long had strong appeal, Devey suspects that some of the recent enrollment growth is due to the pandemic. People are becoming more comfortable working virtually and perhaps finding more time to explore educational opportunities, he said.

Flexibility for student success

Algonquin College President, Claude Brulé, said that the success of the new AC Online Campus is an example of the ongoing commitment to give learners the flexibility and resurces they need to succeed.

"We know that leaners have varying needs, demands and challenges in their lives and may not have ready access to attend a post secondary campus. Our mission is to help every learner turn their dreams into lifelong success, and that means accommodating them where they live and on a timeline that fits their schedule. The success of AC Online demonstrates our commitment to these core values," said Brulé.

Sprouls hopes her story will serve to prompt other women like her to go after their dreams and check the options available at AC Online.

"Ten years ago, I would have never imagined of being a College graduate. Through those years, I watched many of my friends graduate from college to be Early Childhood Educators. I hope my story leaves some inspiring footsteps for other women to follow their passions, get that diploma and bring that dream to life," said Sprouls.


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