Ad­just­ing to Me­mo­rial

Stu­dent Suc­cess pro­gram helps stu­dents make tran­si­tion from high school to uni­ver­sity


Over 2,000 stu­dents, many from small ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, are leav­ing home for the first time this week and em­bark­ing on an ex­cit­ing jour­ney into post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

The but­ter­flies some stu­dents will feel in their bel­lies will likely be caused by the in­se­cu­ri­ties they’ll face liv­ing on their own while try­ing to suc­ceed in a class­room sur­rounded by more stu­dents than the to­tal pop­u­la­tion of their com­mu­nity.

“ Stu­dents have to learn to cook for them­selves, clean up af­ter them­selves, get bus passes, get cer­tain bills set up and paid. Then there are the stu­dents who will be liv­ing in res­i­dences and they have their chal­lenges as well,” says Tom Bro­phy, Me­mo­rial’s di­rec­tor of stu­dent suc­cess pro­grams, stu­dent af­fairs and ser­vices.

The stu­dent suc­cess pro­grams help both stu­dents and their par­ents feel wel­come in the uni­ver­sity en­vi­ron­ment.

In do­ing so, Bro­phy says, the pro­grams also help them deal with what­ever prob­lems stu­dents en­counter, ev­ery­thing from home­sick­ness to course load.

“ We try to let first-year stu­dents know they are all in the same boat and that, should things go wrong, we are here to help. All they have to do is ask,” Bro­phy says.

The first word on the coloured sign lead­ing into Bro­phy’s of­fice in the uni­ver­sity cen­tre is “An­swers.”

The catchy poster lets stu­dents know they’re knock­ing on the right door.

From an aca­demic per­spec­tive, Bro­phy says, stu­dents may strug­gle with the tran­si­tion from high school to uni­ver­sity level cour­ses.

“ The pace of aca­demic pro­grams can be tough, but our pro­fes­sors have hours that they are avail­able to meet stu­dents one-on-one or they can e-mail them. And we have Math, Physics, Chem­istry and Writ­ing work cen­tres to help stu­dents as well,” Bro­phy says.

The An­swers of­fice also dis­trib­utes stu­dent loans on the first day of classes.

“Be­cause ev­ery­one wants to get their loan as soon as pos­si­ble there may be line-ups, but that’s part of the tran­si­tion, too,” Bro­phy says.

Me­mo­rial is the largest uni­ver­sity east of Mon­treal.

Bro­phy, his staff and over 200 vol­un­teer stu­dents were ready to “roll out the red car­pet” in host­ing MUN’s ori­en­ta­tion pro­gram Sept. 6 and 7.

At­tend­ing ori­en­ta­tion is a strong start to the se­mes­ter, he says.

“ We’re very proud of our uni­ver­sity and we want our stu­dents to feel the same pride. And re­search shows that stu­dents who meet other stu­dents are more likely to suc­ceed,” Bro­phy says when asked about the goals of the ori­en­ta­tion pro­gram.

Ori­en­ta­tion also of­fers new stu­dents a tour of the cam­pus and an op­por­tu­nity to “get things done.”

“ They’ll need to get their lock­ers, buy their books, get their IDs, find out how to get jobs on cam­pus, and all of those things are talked about dur­ing our ori­en­ta­tion,” Bro­phy says.

The uni­ver­sity’s coun­selling cen­tre has trained pro­fes­sion­als ready to meet with stu­dents who are find­ing the tran­si­tion more chal­leng­ing than they’d an­tic­i­pated.

In or­der to re­main ac­tive and healthy, Bro­phy en­cour­ages first-year stu­dents to be­come in­volved in what­ever ac­tiv­i­ties they en­joyed dur­ing their high school years.

There are peo­ple at the uni­ver­sity, he says, who can en­sure such ac­tiv­i­ties and cre­ative en­deav­ours aren’t lost.

“ What­ever type of pro­gram you were in­volved with, there’s a way to con­tinue with it... and if there’s noth­ing here you like, our stu­dent coun­cil will en­cour­age you to de­velop your own in­ter­ests. And there are sure to be other stu­dents who’ll come on­side with it as well.”

Me­mo­rial stu­dents Erin Fitz­Patrick of Marys­town and Sa­man­tha Swain of the Goulds have been work­ing at the uni­ver­sity all sum­mer to en­sure all stu­dents and their par­ents feel wel­come in the uni­ver­sity en­vi­ron­ment.

Swain co­or­di­nated a four-hour ori­en­ta­tion ses­sion for par­ents Sept. 6.

A hand­book is also avail­able for par­ents, she says.

“Par­ents are re­ally in­volved... They are concerned about their son’s or daugh­ter’s fi­nances and that they have ac­cess to other things that they’ve had at home like health ser­vices and ca­reer and coun­selling ser­vices,” Swain says.

Fitz­Patrick is work­ing to en­sure that the stu­dents who come to Me­mo­rial for the first time get off to a good start.

“ We want our stu­dents to know that they are ap­pre­ci­ated. That’s very im­por­tant to ev­ery­one here at Me­mo­rial,” Fitz­Patrick says.

Bro­phy is de­lighted with the work Swain, Fitz­Patrick and ev­ery­one else in­volved with the ori­en­ta­tion pro­gram have done over the past sev­eral months.

All that’s left now, he says, is to wait for the stu­dents to ar­rive.

“It’s like how surfers feel when they are rolling out to catch that first wave... You know it’s go­ing to be a great ride,” he says, but you have to wait ‘ til it catches you. And our stu­dents are on the cusp of that now.”

Tom Bro­phy from the south­ern shore com­mu­nity of Fer­meuse is di­rec­tor of Me­mo­rial’s stu­dent suc­cess pro­grams with stu­dent af­fairs and ser­vices.

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