© Heather Taweel
Dave Cormier, enrolment services at UPEI, helps Amelia Hamelin, a Grade 12 student from Montague Regional High School, with finding her way around campus and what classes she might be interested in sitting in on.
While many students across P.E.I. are enjoying the week off, Amelia Hamelin of Caledonia couldn’t think of a better way to spend her day than in class.
The 17-year-old student from Montague Regional High School was one of about 50 students on Tuesday getting a small taste of what life is like in university.
UPEI invited high school students to attend its classes on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hamelin realizes the first year of university can be overwhelming for high school graduates.
“I’m here today because I want to get a feel for what the classes are like and what the campus is like, too,’’ Hamelin said.
Not only did she get a taste of what life is going to be like, she jumped right in, taking in a third-year England history course.
Dave Cormier, who works in enrolment services at UPEI, said this program is merely one piece of the puzzle when it comes to helping students adjust to the university experience.
“We have to do everything we can, as far as I’m concerned, to get them prepared,’’ Cormier said, noting the first two weeks of a freshman year are huge. “If you fail out in the first couple of weeks you’re going to have a hard time coming back from that. It’s possible but it takes a long time.’’
Adjustment can be something many would take for granted like where the buildings are and finding classes. For others it’s about getting into the right mindset, thinking like a university student and getting used to the type of content taught in those classes.
“We have some students who do well here but we have some students who really struggle in the first couple of weeks and some of it has to do with (the fact that) they’re leaving an environment where things are a lot more structured and they’re expected to take on a lot more responsibility here. We’re trying to give them pieces of that and help them with the right mindset.’’
The one concern Cormier has is initiatives such as the one Tuesday will leave some participants with the impression they are ready for university.
“Depending on the personality some people are more prepared for that avalanche than others. But we’re going to follow up with.’’
Cormier says UPEI is talking to the English Language School Board about creating a course for high schools that helps prepare students for university.
Cormier acknowledges that some of the students who participated on Tuesday won’t end up going to UPEI.
“We have a responsibility to every single student. These students (at UPEI on Tuesday) aren’t UPEI students, they are Island students who are coming to experience a university and if that encourages them to come (to UPEI next year) we win and if they go somewhere else, that’s no loss to us.’’