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Transforming the First Year Experience for FAHSS students

Making the transition from high school to university is an exciting and often stressful transition. This summer the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and, Social Sciences (FAHSS) launched a pilot program called Transform First Year for incoming first year FAHSS students to ease the transition and give them a jump on their first semester.

“We wanted to give students the tools that they’ll need to be successful during their first year studies,” said Tony Vo, student experience coordinator in FAHSS. “By offering the Transform program, we are working to ensure students will have the necessary skills for a great first year experience.”

During the six-week program, incoming students were assigned an upper year student mentor who worked with them throughout the program. The first year students completed weekly interactive videos addressing common first year concerns. These videos included understanding the administrative structure of the University and FAHSS, academic policies, student services, student health and wellness, and learning about academic integrity. The videos were created with the help from the Office of Open Learning.

“Transform was quite engaging with modules every week on BlackBoard in the form of short interactive videos and meeting once a week with my mentor,” says Dunbarin Akinwande, an incoming International Relations and Development Studies student. “The midterm tested my knowledge of what I’d learned. I am quite grateful for this amazing opportunity.”

In addition, these students met with their mentor groups once a week to do online activities that reinforced what they had learned in the videos. The students also experienced mock midterm and final exams on materials learned during the Transform program to help build their confidence in writing exams this fall.

“I am extremely grateful to have taken the Transform program. Without it, I wouldn’t be as confident or as knowledgeable as I am today,” says Carly Stark. a first year Social Work and Women’s and Gender Studies student. “ I would encourage all first year FAHSS students to consider joining the seminars and programs offered.”

(Written by Tony Vo)