Campus welcomes thousands of students and parents for Summer Orientation

Posted on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

By Brandon Gillet

Beginning July 20, approximately 3,000 prospective students and guests will flood uOttawa’s campus for Summer Orientation 2015. Three sessions are scheduled nearly every day except Sunday until September 2.

Orientation is not just for students — parents can gain some perspective on university as well with a session just for them.

“The students registering will get a grasp of anything coming up for September,” said Nathalie Vallières, marketing and communication officer for the University’s Student Academic Success Service (SASS). “The focus is to also include the parents to give them a good overview of what their child is going to be involved in.”

This year, 15 student ambassadors are taking the reins to welcome new students to campus. Among them are Valérie Lacroix of the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, and Camille Cusson-Dufour of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The reason orientation is run entirely by students is for the relatability factor — they’ve “been there.” They share their experiences with transitioning, including the hardships, making new students more comfortable come September.

“When (new students) ask questions, they aren’t asking staff who have been trained to give information,” said Lacroix. “We lived it.”

Sessions are shorter this year, but not at the cost of glossing over anything.  They focus on first year, whereas in previous years some parts dealt with upper years.  Ambassadors have a lot of advice for first-year students.

“It’s very important to have good time management skills, especially in first semester. "You really have to be on the ball,” said Cusson-Dufour. “Write everything down, because there are a lot of other adjustments as well.”

“From my point of view, coming from out of town, it’s really important to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, especially campus,” said Lacroix. “But also with how the buses run, some good restaurants and grocers nearby — something that stressed me out the most.”

Participants will also meet other students in upper years who can tell them about exams and, in the case of science and engineering, for example, labs, while parents can learn about Protection Services, policies on issues like sexual violence, and campus activities.

 Orientation logistics

The orientation program is organized to be as interactive and personalized as possible. This is done through separate sessions by faculty so information pertains directly to students’ chosen programs.

“We try to focus on the programs and anything new to the programs within each faculty,” said Vallières.

Information for parents is designed to give them peace of mind about their child’s decision to come to uOttawa.

“We want parents to know that we’re here for our students,” said Valérie Massé, orientation coordinator. “That there are services offered to be prepared, or that certain behaviours are not acceptable.”

According to Massé, a popular aspect of the sessions is going over the school year, month-to-month. This comes with tips, from getting a head start on readings because 101 Week is a busy time to preparing to move out of residence in April.

Keep an eye out for exciting new Gazette content as Summer Orientation 2015 gets underway.

SASS Services

One of the biggest issues students have, according to Vallieres, is thinking they don’t need help with transitioning to university studies.

“That’s one of the biggest misconceptions, students thinking they only need to use SASS if they have a problem,” said Vallieres. “We want students to come for any advice, not just when something is wrong.”

SASS has a wide variety of services available to help students, like the Access Service (which ensures academic accommodations for students with disabilities), free counselling and coaching, and workshops throughout the year.

“We’re just a real support for students outside of the classroom, as well as with writing support for students unfamiliar with regulations like plagiarism, for example,” said Vallieres.

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