Post-secondary Studies: Off to a Good Start
August 17, 2018
In a few weeks, student life will resume in cities across the province and post-secondary students are already preparing for their school routine! But for some, this back-to-school will be their first taste of life as a cegep or university student.
As parents, there are multiple ways for you to support your newbie post-secondary student other than helping with the leap from high school to cegep. Even if most of us keep great memories of our years in cegep and university, this new environment can be an important source of stress. Here are a few tips on how to help your young adult start his or her post-secondary career on the right foot!
It’s always better to be early
If your child is moving to another city, plan for them to get there some time before school starts (even if it’s already hard to let them go!) so they have time to explore their new campus and get used to being outside the family home. If they plan to stay at home, you can still encourage them to visit their school before classes start to get a general idea of the services and facilities on campus and locate their classrooms. If possible, suggest they purchase their supplies before the first week of class. Spending two hours in a bookstore the first few days of school is not a fun way to start the year, believe me!
Orientation and frosh week are key to a great start
While frosh week activities tend to have a bad rep, they have come a long way and are a great way to introduce students to their new environment. If you are worried about what happens during these activities, rest assured that in the past few years, many institutions have come up with special trainings and measures to ensure frosh week meets its intended purpose: to allow new students to meet people, discover their campus and become comfortable with their surroundings. More than ever, organizers are aware of how important it is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of participants so discovering their new environment is a fun experience.
Reaching out makes things easier
Your child will take classes with students that come from all over the province (and even other provinces and countries). Many of them will find themselves alone in a new school, making the first weeks of school the best moment to meet new people. Encourage your child to take the lead and reach out to other students to make friends!
It goes without saying that taking the first step isn’t always obvious, especially when you’re a bit more on the shy side. On my first day, I was terrified of being alone and had no idea how to act around my fellow students… and I know for a fact I wasn’t the only one! You have no idea how grateful I was when another student came to me and asked if she could sit with me! With a simple “Hi, where are you from,” I had found the person with whom I would share the first few weeks of school, giving me the time and support I needed to become comfortable.
Finding your place by getting involved
My own experience has taught me that once frosh week is over, the best way to make friends and really enjoy student life is to get involved. While some see student involvement as another waste of time that only keeps you away from your studies, truth is, the distraction is extremely important: losing your motivation is much easier when all you do is keep your nose in your books.
When you reach cegep and university, the opportunities to get involved are endless thanks to student associations, among other things. And while you can choose to run for an official position, taking part in the various activities organized can be enough. Also, educational and informative events can be extremely useful to those looking for an internship or a student job since employers and professional organizations often come directly to campus to meet their field’s future workers―so it’s the perfect opportunity to make a name for yourself!
But involvement is far from being limited to student associations: committees, groups sharing similar interests, sports teams, cultural activities… these are all great ways to meet people, find new hobbies and even discover your city!
In the end, what’s really important is that your children find what makes them comfortable in this new environment and that they have people to share all these experiences with. These years are usually some of the best years of our lives, so might as well get off to a good start and make them count!
Stacy, student and intern