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Increasing access to Queen’s

Queen’s is welcoming more than 190 new, self-identified first-generation students this fall, including seven through a new admission policy that is part of enhanced efforts to promote access to the university among under-represented populations.

The policy provides an additional and alternative pathway to Queen’s for applicants who are first in their family to attend a post-secondary institution and who have been involved in community-based programs that help youth in low-income communities graduate from secondary school and prepare for the transition to university.

An admission award is available to students through the new policy, modelled on the university’s Indigenous Admission Policy, which has resulted in a 100 per cent increase in acceptances since 2011.

“We are excited to welcome first-generation students at Queen’s this fall under the new policy,” says Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs. “We are committed to continuing to work with schools, youth and their families and community organizations to build awareness about opportunities and options for higher education, including at Queen’s, and help address barriers that may prevent them from attending university.”

The new policy builds on longstanding outreach initiatives, and Queen’s now has a dedicated recruiter based in the GTA who is part of a team that provides outreach to students from diverse backgrounds and community organizations that support youth from populations that are under-represented on campus.

Prospective students can apply to Queen’s through the policy if they have been involved in Pathways to Education, The Boys and Girls Club’s Raising the Grade program, and youth who are Extended Society Care students (formerly called Crown Wards). For 2019-20, eligibility has been expanded to youth involved in the Lifelong Leadership Institute’s Leadership By Design program; additional partnerships are expected in future years.

The university has significant connections with Kingston and GTA-based chapters of Pathways, which is an organization that aims to break the cycle of poverty through education. Since 2011, Queen’s has provided 24 Pathways graduates who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need with a $10,000 award over their four years of study, including 10 current students. Additionally, Pathways graduates may have accessed other bursaries and awards established through the generosity of donors to the university.   

Queen’s connects with students starting in Grade 9 through regular visits, and offers ongoing support through the application and admissions process, bringing prospective applicants and their families to campus for Fall Preview and March Break Open House, providing customized campus tours, and then covering their costs to attend Queen’s Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) to help them prepare for the transition to university.

“The goal is to get more of these academically-eligible youth to see Queen’s as an option, and motivate them to apply,” says Ryan Snowdon, Senior Admission Coordinator. “It is very gratifying to see a Grade 9 student’s face light up at the prospect of attending Queen’s, and then welcoming them to campus a few years later.”

This year, total applicants from Pathways students increased by 31 per cent and enrolment by 71 per cent. In addition, Queen’s Athletics and Recreation and its student-led Varsity Leadership Council partner with Kingston Pathways to host students on campus throughout the year for home games and mentoring from student-athletes.

“Queen’s has been an outstanding community partner for Pathways to Education, and this support has been a vital part of Pathways to Education students beginning to see Queen’s, and post-secondary education in general, as a realistic and attainable goal,” says Jon Oosterman, Student Parent Support Worker/Facilitator of Alumni Relations, Pathways to Education in Kingston. “Queen’s admission staff have gone above and beyond for Pathways students, offering one on one meetings and support and taking time out of their evenings to attend Pathways events. This longtime partnership provides Pathways to Education students the opportunity to make university education a reality and inspires students to be involved, not only in their school, but in their community as well.”

For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions website.