A year’s tuition is up for grabs for three of the 96 hopeful Douglas College students competing in the school’s first-ever online competition Doug’s Got Talent.

Plans for the pioneering contest originated more than year ago when school administration began looking at the college’s 40th anniversary in 2010. To celebrate the milestone, college officials wanted to do something that not only highlighted the institution, but also gave back to the students who pack their halls every year.

“We really had to do something big and bold,” said Sean Kelly, manager of marketing and operations for the college. “And with the emergence of social media over the past few years, something Douglas College has embraced in various curricula, it was like the idea for the contest was ready-made.”

Doug’s Got Talent was open to all current Douglas College students — the nearly 6,000 full-time attendees that populate school’s New Westminster and Coquitlam campuses — as well as those in high school planning on attending Douglas in September 2010. The contest opened Nov. 25, 2009, and closed Feb. 28.

The rules for the contest were simple. Students uploaded a maximum two-minute video displaying their unique talent to YouTube, joined the site’s Doug’s Got Talent group and filled out a contest entry form.

A panel of Douglas College faculty, staff and students will view all 96 submissions and choose 10 finalists by the end of this month. The finalists’ videos will then be posted on the school’s website to be voted on by the public. The three videos that receive the most votes will win the grand prizes of $4,000 in tuition credits for next year.

While the obvious financial benefits to students were a driving force in submissions for the contest, some students took this opportunity to showcase talents that were dear to them.

“I played basketball my whole life,” said 22-year-old contest participant Mathias Stoecker. “But after an accident last year that stopped me from playing, this contest was a way to capture what I did back then.”

For Priscilla Bartleman, Doug’s Got Talent was, amongst other factors, the chance to show off an age-old cultural tradition.

“Aboriginal Pow Wow dancing was just something I grew up with,” said the third-year psychology student. “But, of course, the experience and the tuition were reasons as well.”