What can I do to help my learner transition to university?
Be supportive and trusting and, above all, promote your learner’s independence, even though this means you will likely know less of their day-to-day activities. Independence is an important part of every learner’s growth and university experience, and you can promote their independence while still being available for support as needed.
You can regularly check-in with your learner in a way that makes sense for both of you, whether you use phone calls, text messages, emails or popular apps. Your check-ins can be a way of gauging your learner’s stress level, especially at exam periods, and how they are transitioning to university life.
Asking the simple question “What can I do to help?” goes a long way, and reminds your learner that they are not alone. Your learner can also access academic and personal supports at university, and you can learn more about these services on our university profiles.
My learner is leaving home for the first time! How can I help my learner find the right services?
Learners are encouraged to access the many academic and personal services available to them at their universities. These services might include essay-writing workshops, resumé-building sessions, counselling and access to medical care on campus. Encourage your learner to become their own advocate by reminding them to reach out to staff at learner services, other learners, residence dons, professors or teaching assistants (TAs). They can also reach out to staff at the Aboriginal learner centre at their university.
My learner is going to have to juggle many responsibilities at university. How can I best support my learner in meeting responsibilities?
Most of us understand the feeling of having too little time and too much to do. So encourage your learner to develop a schedule based on established priorities, which might include project deadlines, studying, exams, working out, spending time with friends and visiting home.
Learners receive a course outline or syllabus for each class they are taking that notes important contact information, due dates and course expectations at the beginning of each course. It’s their responsibility to keep track of weekly readings, due dates and upcoming tasks. The syllabus outlines these expectations weeks in advance. This means that proper planning, and assistance from peer mentors or academic support services, may assist your learner with designing a work plan to meet all of their responsibilities. If your learner requires accommodations due to a disability, they should reach out to their university’s accessibility services office before the beginning of the school year.
Is it acceptable to contact my learner’s course instructors directly?
Most universities have confidentiality policies, and learners are expected to raise any issues or concerns directly with their professors or teaching assistants. All information disclosed by learners to staff is confidential and will not be shared with family, other university staff or course instructors, without the learner’s written permission.
Encourage your learner to reach out to their university for guidance on any issues or challenges that they might be experiencing. Guidance can come in the form of Elders at the Aboriginal learner centre, academic advisors through their registrar or faculty, counsellors at health services or staff at accessibility services.
What safety features are available to my learner on campus?
Ontario universities are dedicated to creating safe and secure environments for learners, staff, faculty and visitors. Most universities have security policies and services on campus. These security measures can include:
- Security cameras
- Emergency poles that include a bright blue light and an emergency warning system that connects you directly to campus police if needed
- Campus security (similar to police officers) who are always available by phone, emergency poles and residence phones
- Learner volunteer programs, such as foot patrols, that are buddy systems for learners who may be walking alone on campus at night or leaving a late-night class. Through this program, learners can request 2 foot patrol members to escort them anywhere on campus or to their homes within a reasonable distance of campus.
- Learner-run emergency first responders who can quickly provide aid anywhere on campus. Through this program, learners can contact the responders by phone or other emergency access points.