QSuccess, the peer-mentoring program that assists in the first-year transition process, has increased its capacity this upcoming year from 100 to 300 spaces.
QSuccess aims to ease the transition for first-year students into life at Queen’s by delivering weekly lessons through upper-year mentors and trained staff. Lessons on academic, organizational and time management skills are given as part of the program, among others. The program is weekly and runs from September 5 to November 24.
Program coordinator Cassandra Eberhardt said that it’s designed to take a holistic approach to first-year transition issues, and ensures that lessons related to university life are delivered to students at a time when they need them most.
Eberhardt said that a heavy focus on peer engagement is a reason why the program has had a positive impact, as students have showed appreciation for the interactions the weekly meetings bring.
Program participants are put into groups of 30-35 students in order to give them an opportunity to meet other first-years.
“That can be difficult in larger programs like Arts & Science,” Eberhardt told the Journal via email.
The groups of students are led by two upper-year peer mentors who share their own experiences, refer first-years to campus support and services and answer their questions.
QSuccess increased its enrolment capacity this upcoming year to accommodate the demand seen in its 2013 pilot year, when over 300 applicants applied for only 100 available spots.
The pilot project also allowed the program to review and solve challenges it faced in its opening year, Eberhardt said.
“We found that commitment to nine weeks was difficult for many students, so we’ve streamlined the program to six weeks and have provided students with the option to apply for three different program start dates in the second, third and fourth weeks of classes,” Eberhardt said.
She added that this adjustment will give students the opportunity to settle into their classes before beginning the program.
Eberhardt said many of the changes the program has made for its second year were in response to participant feedback. The biggest change is involving more peer-to-peer engagement.
“This year, QSuccess mentors will play a more active role facilitating the weekly sessions and guiding students through the weekly materials,” Eberhardt said.
There will also be more opportunities for students to explore experiential learning, like creating their own learning tools, or trying new strategies like stress management techniques, according to Eberhardt.
The introduction of experiential learning will be enriched by student interaction from the weekly lessons, she added.
“Students have an opportunity to meet other first year students and to interact with them throughout the program, while upper year peer mentors facilitate participants’ transition.”
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