Lets help students start right

James Arron
May 30, 2019 · 4 min read

Right now across the country, thousands of grade 12 students are counting down the days until the end of high school and the start of post-secondary.

This transition can be a big leap, with incoming post-secondary students abruptly needing to become far more self-reliant and independent in how they manage their schedule, budgets, social lives, and academic performance.

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82% of current post-secondary students surveyed by Academica & the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) felt they hadn’t adequately developed health and stress management skills to navigate the transition.

With tuition costs increasing rapidly, and complex job prospects awaiting many students after graduation, this transition is more challenging now than ever — and it’s happening as we’ve seen a crisis in student mental health on campuses across the country.

Responding to the Challenge

SOS and our great partners from MyBlueprint have come together seeking to support smoother transitions. Last month, we invited high schoolers to submit their questions about post-secondary life through the Ask Us Anything Contest.

Starting June 15th, we’ll be sharing video blogs created by SOS volunteers sharing their personal tips and experiences, directly responding to the +300 questions we received.

Jessica Peverill, a University of Guelph student, addresses questions about what is a academic major, and whether they can be changed (one of the top questions submitted by incoming PSE students!)

What We Heard

There are many great support systems already in place to help students understand the prerequisites and application processes to choose where they want to study and what program they want to take. Yet, the questions received through Ask Us Anything, demonstrate students are worried about far more than just their program selection, as echoed by Academica’s results also.

The most frequent questions we received by far were about school-life balance; with dozens of students asking for tips to balance school with extra-curriculars, socializing, and more, and wanting to better understand the structure of post-secondary class schedules.

Many students were worried about how they could afford their studies as they asked if the cost of post-secondary was really worth it.

There are of course no-size-fits-all answers to these complex questions. But they are questions uniquely suited to be addressed through peer support. As peer mentors, the SOS volunteers are able to intricately understand the transition grade 12s are going through their own recent lived experience and to be able to communicate to them in a relateable language and to be able to share their honest, personal experiences.

Online support is just the start.

Building on students feedback, we’ve developed three in-depth, in-person workshops (called the ‘Start Right’ Program) offering ‘just-in-time’ learning activities facilitated by peer mentors. Through the experience participants have the chance not only to get support to ease their anxiety about immediate transitions ahead, but also to strengthen core competencies in goal setting, mindfulness, resourcefulness, and adaptability to assist their lifelong success — in other words, to help them start right as they launch into the next stage of their lives.

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High school students who supported the initial design and pilot testing of our Start Right Workshops.

Here’s what some of our first participants said about their experience in the Start Right Program:

“I now have a better idea of what life will be like in university and how I will handle changes that I’m presented with.”

“The workshop helped me to visualize how my transition into university will go and gave me some inside information on certain things I might have been afraid of”

“Decisions on university programs have become more clear to me”

“I got to have a broader and more rounded view of what life at university would look like”

Bring Start Right to your school

Submit your Expression of Interest now. Space is limited.

Learn all about it at www.StudentsOfferingSupport.ca/StartRight.

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And in the meantime, stay tuned for the Ask Us Anything responses being shared June 15th (check out #startrightSOS)

SOS is a registered charity committed to ‘elevating education and igniting leaders’. Since 2004, we’ve engaged over 100,000 Canadian students in our transformative learning programs.

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