Make way summer, the back to school season is now in full swing. This time of year is busy for students who are heading off to college or university for the first time. But there are a number of ways to help make the transition as seamless as possible.
“We offer everything from when a prospective student is interested in college, right through until they graduate and become alumni,” explains Camosun College’s associate director of student services Lori Zehr. “We have various tips, resources and people that they can access – everything from setting up their time table, getting ready to learn, figuring out how to get here, how to manage their day, contacting their instructors and more.”
Zehr believes that the key to first-year student success is preparation and that includes some old-fashioned tips such as taking the time to familiarise yourself with the layout of the campus. “From the parent’s perspective, if they have time, come out with their student before classes start and walk around the campus when it’s a bit quieter. Get a feel for where classes are, what buildings are what, where’s the bookstore, where’s a good place to eat and where to find the best coffee.”
During the first month on campus, students are welcomed with orientation and social activities. Camosun’s popular CamFest takes place during the first week of classes at both campuses. It gives students the opportunity to mingle with instructors and staff and to learn about services and supports as well as student clubs. A festival atmosphere with a barbecue, food trucks and live entertainment helps to provide a warm welcome to college life.
A college campus can be an exciting place to study with opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. A key component of a student’s success is maintaining good overall health. “We’ve got the fitness centres on site, and we’ve got lots of walking trails and routes at both campuses,” said Zehr. ”It’s important that students maintain their physical and mental health, and we have the intramurals and recreation to support those kinds of endeavours too.”
In our digital age, an overlooked resource is the campus library, which can serve as a social hub, research centre, study group meeting location or a place to relax for a few moments between classes. When things get a little stressful, usually when mid-terms hit suggests Zehr, Camosun’s Academic Advising and Counselling Services are on hand to help out. They can advise on course selection and offer support to manage challenges and difficulties along the way. “Students can also go to our help centres, writing centre or the Disability Resource Centre in addition to accessing tutors, instructional assistants and faculty members to find out how to get some extra help to study for some of those tough subject matters.”
An important consideration for students is choosing a career path. “If students are searching for a career, they’re not sure where they want to go or what they need to do to get there, our college offers early career prep work,” said Zehr. “They’ll look at things like learning inventories, skills inventories, interest inventories and trying to match that all up on a career that might fit with an individual.”
Post-secondary education can be expensive and ensuring that finances don’t get in the way of student success is a key mandate of the Financial Aid and Awards office. “We really encourage students to go to talk to them as they can give them options based on that individual student’s situation,” said Zehr. “There are student loans, bursaries or other grants or emergency funding that they could be eligible for. We don’t want finances to be a barrier for students.”
Zehr believes that Camosun’s special atmosphere makes it an ideal first step into the world of post-secondary education. “I think Camosun’s a great start for young adults going off to school, with smaller class sizes and more personalized, individualized interactions,” said Zehr. “It definitely offers a warm, welcoming family-oriented approach to post-secondary education and an overall positive student experience.”
For more information, visit: camosun.ca/services.
Ivan Watson is a marketing and communications strategist at Camosun College’s Interurban Campus. Email: email@example.com.