As we get closer and closer to the beginning of the fall term, everyone is gearing up for orientation. But for those students who don’t start classes until the winter term, it isn’t exactly a welcome week.
I was admitted to the University of Saskatchewan in January 2015, although I was enrolled through the Centre for Continuing and Distance Education and attended classes at North West Regional College in North Battleford, Sask. I was a U of S student, but there wasn’t a winter orientation for off-campus students like me at the college. There wasn’t even one at the U of S.
Going into university for the first time and not having much of an idea of what’s going on can be a scary situation to be in. Orientation provides a lot of useful information to students that they may not otherwise receive.
It’s also meant to give undergraduate students a sense of community and pride in their university and to make them feel more comfortable with their fellow students and with their new surroundings, making the whole experience a lot less intimidating.
When an undergraduate student enters the U of S in the winter term, they do not get to participate in the fun orientation activities that were offered to the students who were admitted in the fall term.
Although information for undergraduate students entering university is available throughout the year, it is a lot harder to find. Entering university in the winter term can be a challenging and disorienting process and winter term students can feel left out in the cold, so to speak.
It’s not just that the U of S that doesn’t have a winter orientation either. A handful of other Canadian institutions do offer them, but at ones such as Carleton University and Queen’s University, winter orientation is offered for international students exclusively.
It really goes to show that Canadian universities simply do not prioritize a general winter orientation enough to implement it, but why is this? We should be following in the footsteps of the University of Manitoba or the University of Windsor, which do have a general orientation for students who get admitted in the winter term.
There are many reasons why a person may need to start university in the winter. For me, it was financial reasons. After I graduated high school, I went into the workforce to earn and save money for my education. I had planned on working for a full year but found that by December I had enough money saved to pay for my whole first year.
Hating my job and eager to quit as soon as possible, I decided to start university in the winter term. However, once I got to school, I found myself having a really hard time navigating through the complexities that are university. I can’t speak for all students who’ve been admitted in the winter term, but from my own experience, having an orientation to attend would have improved my first year of university immensely.
We need a winter term orientation to help make new students feel like they’re a part of the school community and to give them the opportunity to make connections, learn new things and have fun. After all, orientation is a huge part of the university experience that a lot of new students look forward to. Instead of disappointing them, let’s give them this rite of passage that they deserve.