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Expanding first-year transition support

Student and mentor talk at table.
Q Success connects first-year students with upper-year peer mentors.

To help ease the first-year transition to university life, the Division of Student Affairs is expanding its Q Success program to the full academic year.

Since its launch in 2013, the program had been operating for the first six weeks of the fall term.

The program invites first-year students to be matched with an upper-year mentor who can help them settle into their campus life, and connect them to resources and services. Q Success has also provided opportunities for first-year students to meet at weekly information sessions that focus on academic prep, skills development, community building, and wellness.

Feedback from participants and upper year peer mentors has led the Student Experience Office to expand Q Success from September through to April.

“The peer mentorship component of the program, in particular, has been greatly valued, not only by first-year students, but by the upper-year student mentors, who all recognize the benefits of having someone who is there to connect with, who listens, asks questions and refers students to the resources and services they may need to succeed,“ says Sara Ali, program coordinator. “The most common suggestion made by mentees was to make the program longer; there was a particular emphasis on a need for continued mentor support leading up to, and during the first set of university exams in December.”

Historically, students who have self-identified as members of under-represented populations, including international, first-generation, and Aboriginal students, as well as students with disabilities, have opted-in to the program at higher-than-expected rates.

“The things I learned from [my mentor] have helped me greatly already and I know they will continue to be relevant in the coming years,” says one mentee who participated in 2016. “Having someone who would just listen to me and provide feedback or encouragement was very reassuring,” says another. “Overall, it was a super positive experience! I'm so glad I signed up for this!”

In addition to the year-long peer mentoring program, Q Success will also feature monthly group activities. These will be run in a workshop format throughout the academic year, and will include informal drop-in sessions where students can ask questions and receive personalized supports in a casual and more social setting. The content will remain consistent with topics focused around the themes of academic success, building resilience and building community. The sessions will be run by students and staff, in collaboration with campus partners, including Student Academic Success Services, food services staff, Athletics and Recreation, the Queen’s University International Centre, and Residence Life.

Online registration for Q Success is now open! For more information, visit: http://www.queensu.ca/studentexperience/q-success