The University of King’s College has been declared Canada’s happiest home for first-year students for the second straight year.
Peggy Heller, director of the Halifax school’s lauded Foundation Year Program, credits the deep level of student engagement created by the first-year “boot camp.”
“That’s the basis of the happiness – deep engagement,” she says.
FYP accounts for 80 per cent of the first-year mark and that forms a bond among the 300 students. They break into 15-person tutorials and most live on campus, meaning the residences cram and celebrate on the same schedule, she says.
“It takes students extremely seriously. There’s a lot of respect shown for their own ability to encounter things that are important and difficult,” Heller says. “They in turn treat their education very seriously. There’s something relentless about the whole thing.”
The book-centric educational approach at King’s means they lost points in areas of the Macleans magazine study like internships and volunteering in the community, but still came out tops overall. That’s not to say King’s students don’t do those outreach aspects, but that they aren’t graded.
Heller says she and other King’s faculty regularly meet with students and tutors to review the program and make any adjustments that come up.
Beth McNeil has just finished her first year at King’s and says she adored it. “All 300 students have lectures together, eat together and live together, which really does facilitate meeting people and getting to know them very quickly,” she says.
She’s heading into her second year in a political science-economics degree this fall and worries it won’t match up to her first year.
“King’s is so first-year oriented the upper years tend to be neglected. I am a bit concerned about how I'll be able to continue participation in Kings, since I am only taking a few classes there,” she says.