The Great Beyond

by Samantha Brazeau-Wilson and Chelsea Brunette

For kids and parents, the jump up to post-secondary school is a big one.

Remember when you thought the first day of kindergarten was traumatic? And you sniffled as your baby headed confidently away, walking in the opposite direction in that brand new, size-four big-kid outfit?

Well, this send-off is in another league altogether. Your beloved (* sob *) high school graduate is making the life-leap to post-secondary school. And whether the landing is in an out-of-town destination such as Toronto or Montreal or at a local campus, it’s apt to be a tad bumpy.

Not to mention scary. Some kids are getting set for their first time living away from mom and dad. Others are one-part ecstatic plus three-parts terrified about all the freedom in store: no parents; no nagging; no curfew; no limits. Ah … no parental bank machine, no food automatically in the fridge, no reminders about eating, sleeping or getting to class. Gulp.

The good news is Ottawa’s post-secondary schools offer a number of services to ease the way for newbies so they can get the hang of the post-secondary lifestyle and manage in the Great Beyond.

At Carleton University, the role of the student experience office is to support students in making a successful transition to university life by preparing them to achieve their personal and academic goals. This is done primarily through summer, fall and winter orientation activities.

“Our summer orientation program is a one-day session for new students and their families,” says Jeremy Brzozowski, acting manager of the office. “This day of activities consists of a faculty presentation on academic expectations, overview of student support services, academic advising support, review of course registration for accuracy, a campus tour and other important information.”

Next, fall orientation is a weeklong program that provides students with social, academic and personal support prior to the start of classes. Students are invited to participate in a number of activities, including fun social events as well as faculty and department orientation sessions.

If you’ve heard about “frosh week” you can relax. “The program is completely dry,” says Jeremy. “And we have over 800 volunteers annually that return … to campus [early] to help students move into residence and to guide them through the orientation week activities.”

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