Ryerson gives pre-orientation day

ryerson photo


Students take part in Ryerson University’s First Year in 40 Minutes, which tries to ease some of the apprehensions new students have about starting university.

A group of anxious Ryerson University freshmen recently took an early run at first year — literally.

From figuring out how to pay tuition and get a student card to using the library and partying safely, they got a glimpse at all facets of university life in less time than they'll spend in a typical class lecture.

First Year in 40 Minutes offers students — and their parents — a preview of the new world about which few are feeling brave.

“I’m actually scared,” admitted Mary Grace, 18, of Scarborough, capturing the mood of many in the capacity crowd of 75 who came inside on a glorious summer day recently in hopes the workshop would offer a jump start on their post-secondary career.

Grace — a nursing student who, like many, is just out of high school — said it was good to get a feel for the campus before classes begin.

University and college orientation for incoming students is nothing new. For decades, schools have spent the first few days of each academic year trying to make people feel at home.

But in recent years, pre-orientation in July and August has become increasingly common for a variety of reasons.

New students, many conditioned to compete for good grades to have their choice of post-secondary programs, are again looking to get ahead.

The elimination of Grade 13, or the Ontario Academic Credits, in 2003 also means many first-year students arriving on college and university doorsteps today are younger than their predecessors. At Ryerson, where the workshop filled up quickly, organizers aimed to give students an idea of the breadth of what university life offers. So, while the 17 stations included information on classes as well as tips on academic success, they also featured details on campus clubs, intramural sports, birth control and how to “party safe.”

“You can just go to class but then you’re not getting the full experience,” said Rachel Barreca, Ryerson’s facilitator of first-year programs.

Noting students who make a quick connection to their university or college are more likely to have a successful overall transition from high school, Barreca said the session is designed to make them feel more at ease and know help is there if needed.

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