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Dear Dawson Students… from a Marianopolis alumna

Nearly a decade ago, when I was in my final year of high school, the big question was “where are you going to cegep?” For students of my English-language, Jewish school, there were essentially four choices: Marianopolis, Dawson, Vanier or John Abbott.

The relative popularities and reputations of the schools tend to go in cycles, and in my year, Dawson was “in” and Vanier was “out”. Dawson, with its fancy new sports complex, coveted “Reflections” program with couches and coffee, and cool downtown location, was where it was all happening. Marianopolis was the other choice, for the “brains” or the “nerds”, but Vanier was having an “out” year for people bored with Ville St-Laurent and unimpressed with its aging building (since renovated). Abbott was too far out and, for most of us west-islanders, located in the wrong direction from the action.

I was undecided. Dawson or Marianopolis? Marianopolis or Dawson? I toured both schools (and toured Vanier as well, but if I recall correctly, that was just to get out of doing an oral presentation in Hebrew class that I’d forgotten to prepare for). March rolled around and I still couldn’t choose, so I flipped a coin. Literally. Marianopolis it was.

No regrets, either. I still consider cegep to be the best two years of my life. Many of my current friends today are people I met in cegep or people I met through them. The classes didn’t suck, the teachers actually seemed like they wanted to be there, and so did a lot of the students. And, unlike the students stuck in science, us commerce students put the school’s brainiac reputation to shame; we spent more time on the windowsills or in the coffee shop than in class, easily. Mostly, I had fun there.

But there was always an ongoing rivalry between Marianopolis, the “up the hill”, snobby, preppy private school, and Dawson, the “down the hill”, big, cosmopolitan public school. Really, they were only a few minutes’ walk apart, and we used to regularly go back and forth to visit our friends, or head down to Atwater to shop or use the metro. Dawson was very much a part of our lives.

So were jokes about Dawson. Ever ask a Marianopolis student how many first-year Dawson social science students it takes to change a lightbulb? The answer: that’s a second-year course at Dawson. And they had plenty of jokes about us, too. That we were run by nuns. That we hadn’t heard of lightbulbs cause we were too busy studying. The t-shirts at Dawson’s store read “Friends don’t let friends go to Marianopolis”. (The t-shirts at Marianopolis didn’t read anything at all, cause we didn’t actually have a store). Three years later, my sister chose Dawson and had a good time, and liked to tease me about having gone to Marianopolis and missing out on the unique opportunities offered by having a school located in a mall. Yep, the friendly rivalry between the two schools was as much a fact of life as assignments and exams.

Ultimately, though, the differences between our schools were superficial. Most of us enjoyed our cegep experience, we were all friends with each other, and many of us met up again in the same classes and programs at Concordia or McGill.

So to Dawson students and grads, I just want to say, as a Marianopolis alum, we’re really nothing but two sides of the same coin. And that today’s events could have happened to any of us.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Kun 03.12.15, 4:56 PM

    I was just wondering which school has a better environment? I am still hesitating between the two schools and would like to know if it is true that Dawson’s teachers aren’t motivated? Do you know which cegep among those two has the most competition? Thanks so much!

    • SV 05.22.15, 5:22 PM

      I graduated from Marianopolis this semester (basically today) and I have to say that whether your experience at this school is amazing or a nightmare depends on how hard you’re willing to work.

      Being in Health Sciences, the overall vibe is pretty competitive but that only lasts the 1st (MAYBE the 2nd) semester. After that everyone seems to help each other out and I’ve let people take pictures of notes, along with them giving me their notes, from time to time.

      Coming from a public high school, there was one thing that I lacked as a student, WORK ETHIC!

      Work ethic is so key to success in not ONLY school but in LIFE and trust me when I say that Marianopolis will push your work ethic further than any other English CEGEP out there. For the people who already work hard, you’ll find yourself working even harder, but trust me when I say you will feel great achieving your goals and getting good grades because of it.

      Overall, you’ll work harder at Mari than at most other colleges, considering (and this true since I have friends at Dawson, Vanier AND John Abbott) the courses at Marianopolis are indeed harder, you cover more material, and the averages are higher than usual.

      So why go to a CEGEP that makes you work harder than the others? Again, because you will refine your skills as a student. You’ll learn how to study 50 pages of notes in an hour, how to take notes and pick up on key concepts and MOST IMPORTANTLY you’ll be very well prepared for University.

      To be 100% honest if I had gone to Dawson or Vanier, sure maybe I’d have a higher R-score, maybe I’d have gotten into programs like pre-med or Physiotherapy, but ultimately I wouldn’t even be ready for the workload that they’d throw at me.

      So to sum things up I want to leave you with this:
      Ask yourself what’s more important. To coast through CEGEP, get good grades but get your ass kicked in Uni? Or to bust your butt now at Mari and become the best student YOU can become for University.

      Good luck in all your endeavors, friend. 🙂

  • Burp 08.24.15, 11:37 PM

    Hi, I was wondering if you knew anything about Dawson’s and John Abbott’s theatre program? Both have a 3 year professional theatre program and I really don’t know what the difference between both are.. Thanks in advance!

  • Youssef Gheith 11.30.17, 12:57 PM

    Hi I’m very passionate about Marianopolis. IM A FAN

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