Successful students get involved: dean of students

Coleman Molnar: Outgoing Editor-in-Chief       Ω  

Colour co-ordinated first-year students pack the stands for orientation on Tuesday morning. PHOTO BY COLEMAN MOLNAR

If you’re a fourth-year student, maybe you’ll just sail into the school year on a summer breeze, drifting into a classroom of familiar faces.  But if you’re a first-year student, the process of getting into your education may be a little more jostling.

September marks the return to school and one of the busiest times of year for students, but Thompson Rivers University staff would like to let learners know they don’t have to go it alone.

Here’s a statistic that, as intimidating as it is, needs to be thrown around this time of year:  according to Matthew Kennedy, a research analyst at TRU, approximately one third of all first-year students at TRU drop their classes in the first semester and never return.

TRU’s Dean of Students, Christine Adam, knows just how important it is for students to reach out for the help provided.

Adam has two simple pieces of advice for first-year students: “go to class,” and “don’t only go to class.”

The fist bit of advice is pretty self-explanatory.

“Attendance is one of the greatest predictors of how well a student will do in a course,” said Adam.

“If you look at the breakdown of students who are getting A’s, B’s, C’s, D’s and F’s, you can almost follow the line of their attendance as well.

This should come as no surprise to anyone — of course attendance is important — but the significance of Adam’s second piece of advice is less obvious.

“Being a student isn’t just about being in classes,” she said.  “There are lots of other things that go on in a student’s life that can affect how they do in school.”

“Your university experience isn’t just about going into classrooms and returning to your dorm room or apartment and reading your textbooks,” said Adam.

“University life is so incredibly rich.  It’s this time of your life when you pay to go to class, you pay for an education, but there are all of these other things that are going on that are part of the community — I think sometimes [students] miss out on a lot of opportunities to enhance their education.”

Some of the opportunities Adam is talking about include joining the student union or any of the many student-run clubs, participating in intramural sports or activities, writing for your campus newspaper (pardon the shameless plug), or attending supplemental learning sessions.

This spring a group of upper-level arts students joined forces to create a mentoring program for new arts students.

“We phoned every incoming [arts] student and told them about this program and some other things arts was offering for the upcoming year,” said Jessica Lee, one of the arts mentors.

“We are here to give practical, real advice to new students on everything from how to survive university life, to paper writing — basically, we take the mystery out of university.”

If you’d like more information on arts mentoring program or any of the other services offered on campus, visit www.tru.ca.

And if your first year of university has got you stressed, know that there are plenty of people here to help get you through it.  Use the great services here on campus and don’t become a dropout statistic.