Arisa Babiuk

NOW Magazine - Class Action - - CLASS ACTION | CONTINUING EDUCATION -

Law stu­dent

I’m a ma­ture stu­dent, and I’ll be start­ing law school in Septem­ber. I went through the Univer­sity of Toronto’s aca­demic bridg­ing pro­gram and stud­ied eq­uity as a ma­jor and po­lit­i­cal science and his­tory as mi­nors.

For many years I worked as an an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cer and wanted to open a dog day­care. How­ever, af­ter a two-year process, I wasn’t able to get a li­cence from the city. That was re­ally chal­leng­ing, but I learned a lot. It showed me I was ready to pur­sue post-se­condary ed­u­ca­tion, so I en­rolled in the bridg­ing pro­gram and moved into full-time stud­ies.

The bridg­ing pro­gram is geared to fill­ing the gaps in your readi­ness to com­plete school. It seemed like the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to go to U of T; my tran­script as it was wouldn’t have let me be ac­cepted there.

It def­i­nitely pre­pared me for un­der­grad. The pro­gram of­fers a lot of re­sources and op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who need ac­ces­si­bil­ity ser­vices or ex­tra aca­demic help. There are writ­ing cen­tres and ser­vices for those who lack con­fi­dence in their abil­ity to com­plete school. There were ar­eas I needed to work on, but it turned out there were ar­eas where I thought I needed work but ac­tu­ally didn’t. I didn’t know any of that un­til I started at U of T.

For ex­am­ple, it turns out that I’m a good writer, but I have dif­fi­culty ap­proach­ing a topic and get­ting started. I was in­tim­i­dated by some of the projects. But once I started, I was fine – I just needed help in the guid­ing process.

I was of­ten ab­sent in high school, so I was wor­ried about my gen­eral abil­ity to com­plete school, time man­age­ment and stay­ing com­mit­ted. But it wasn’t a prob­lem at all, be­cause my mo­ti­va­tion and fo­cus had to­tally changed.

As a ma­ture stu­dent, I was un­sure how I would fit in on cam­pus, but U of T has a thriv­ing ma­ture stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, in­clud­ing a ma­ture stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion, and I ended up join­ing the ex­ec­u­tive board. That led me to join the tra­di­tional stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion, where I met stu­dents who were much younger, but we still had a lot of fun. I was the only ma­ture stu­dent ever to have been a frosh leader. It showed me that ma­ture stu­dents can choose their own path.

I would def­i­nitely en­cour­age adults to think about pur­su­ing ed­u­ca­tion. Re­turn­ing to stu­dent life is pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially through aca­demic bridg­ing.

I had a sup­port­ive bridg­ing pro­fes­sor who got me off to a great start with un­der­grad. He helped me see my po­ten­tial, so when I started my first year I felt con­fi­dent. Be­ing on the stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion and get­ting in­volved in my col­lege, I de­voted a lot of time and en­ergy to mak­ing it a re­ally in­clu­sive space, and that was re­ward­ing for me.

I was of­ten ab­sent in high school, so I was wor­ried about my abil­ity to com­plete school. But it wasn’t a prob­lem. My mo­ti­va­tion and fo­cus had changed.

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