Helping students Bounce Back

New program assigns struggling first-years to upper-year mentors

The logo for the Bounce Back program.
The logo for the Bounce Back program.

First-year students who are facing academic probation have the opportunity to participate in a new program that aims to improve their grades.

Arts and Science students that finish their first semester at Queen’s with a GPA of 1.6 or lower, are specifically invited to join the program, called Bounce Back.

The program serves as a collaborative effort between the Office of the Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs, the Faculty of Arts and Science and Student Academic Success Services (SASS).

Each student participating is matched with an upper-year student facilitator that serves to help the student plan for the current semester effectively, as well as identify their strengths and weaknesses.

“[Facilitators] would help a student by encouraging them to create a workable, practicable and implementable schedule,” Susan Korba, SASS director, said.

The goal is to improve overall wellness, which will contribute to attaining better grades.

Upper-year facilitators declined to speak with the , stating legal obligations as the reason.

Approximately 23 student facilitators were hired, and trained last fall. Not all had always achieved high grades, she added.

“Some [facilitators] might not have always done well academically, so they can empathize,” Korba said. “They can speak from experience, and talk to students about how [students] can improve.”

The program is based more on peer-to-peer mentoring, than on instruction from members of SASS.

“It will be very student-driven,” she said. “It’s collaboration between student and facilitator.”

Korba said facilitators can refer students to more specific services if they require more support.

“They aren’t necessarily trained to be councilors, or writing consultants,” she added, “but certainly they will have these tools available.”

The decision to create Bounce Back came about a year ago, after examining successful models at the University of Guelph and Carleton University, she said.

Other faculties, such as the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, have other services in place for students.

“The engineering program has facilitators that provide extra support,” she said. “They were a part of the training program that was for the Bounce Back coordinators.”

The program will be supported by services already in place through the Learning Commons.

“Our unit, SASS, is comprised of the Writing Centre and Learning Strategies advisors who have always been available to help students with time management and study skills,” she said.

Although Bounce Back is directed towards first-years, services do exist for upper years, such as a Learning Strategies program offered through the Learning Commons.

“The truth is that students from all walks of life use the supports that are available,” she said. “It doesn’t mean you’re doing badly, it’s a sign of maturity to ask for help.”

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