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Starting first-year with confidence

Queen’s is providing free online tutorials to help incoming students adjust to university.

A young woman writes as she looks at a laptop
Incoming students at Queen's have been able to take advantage of a number of extra supports being offered to help them get ready for their university career. (Unsplash / J. Kelly Brito)

For many incoming university students, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the end of their high school education and has also moved the beginning of their post-secondary education to remote delivery. Given all the rapid changes over the past several months, students have been taking advantage of extra supports Queen’s is offering to help them get ready for their university career.

July’s online Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) provided opportunities for new students to meet each other, ask questions of upper-year peers and staff, and get advice and information from videos and interactive modules about preparing for university life.  

This month, faculties and schools have been offering a series of free online tutorials to help bridge the academic gap between high school and university. SOAR Studies includes general approaches to university-level courses and content specific to each faculty and school, offering something for any new student looking to prepare for their first semester.

“Recognizing the challenges that high school students have faced this year, we are investing in each student’s success with faculty-tailored SOAR Studies to ensure we help ease the transition to university and provide the support students need,” says Lori Garnier, Executive Director of the Commerce program at Smith School of Business.

In addition, and aiming to help all incoming and returning Queen’s students adjust to remote learning, Student Academic Success Services (SASS) in Student Affairs has created Academics 101. This series of seven interactive tutorials helps students develop the academic and writing skills to succeed in distance learning in fall 2020 and throughout their time at Queen’s. Along the way, they will discover how to build connections with peers, teaching assistants, faculty, and support resources while studying remotely.

“We wanted to create something that would ease the academic transition for students and introduce them to academic expectations at Queen’s, that they can engage with at their own pace — no matter their time zone and regardless of their familiarity with the concepts featured,” says Susan Korba, Director of SASS.

Academics 101 concludes by showing students how to make a plan for their first six weeks at Queen’s. Students will leave the series with a clear sense of their strengths, an array of study strategies and methods to use in the fall, and a renewed sense of confidence. Students can log on any time during the summer or throughout the school year and complete the tutorials at their own pace. The entire series will take an average of three to four hours.

New students can also register for Setting Yourself Up for Success (SYUS), a six-week online course created by Queen’s Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) in partnership with Queen’s Student Accessibility Services. It helps students understand what’s ahead, what resources are available, and includes information for students with disabilities or mental health conditions about how to ensure they have equitable access to their education. To register, visit the RARC website.

Faculty and School SOAR Studies

SOAR Studies features tutorials tailored for students entering specific faculties, schools and programs. The Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS), the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS), and the commerce, health sciences, and nursing undergraduate programs all have developed free, non-credit, online tutorials.

FAS has developed a three-week mini course: Learning and Working in a Digital World. This course helps incoming students understand what to expect from first-year university courses. It also introduces them to some of the digital tools they will use as undergraduates while giving them an opportunity to engage with other new first-year students. The one-term, for-credit version of this course, ASCX 101: Learning and Working in a Digital World, is being offered this fall.

Students entering the Commerce Program at Smith School of Business will be able to learn the ins and outs of the program through the First-Year Commerce Onboarding Portal. In addition to program policies and procedures, system tutorials and helpful resources, the portal provides incoming students with access to optional, non-credit preparatory courses in calculus and financial accounting to help prepare them for academics. Commerce students can monitor the onboarding portal or their Queen’s email for content release announcements.

For students entering FEAS, QEng Prep helps students review key math, physics, and chemistry concepts, and is entirely self-directed, letting students learn at their own pace. Students start by taking a diagnostic quiz to identify which core topics they may need to brush up on. They then access online modules that cover all key information in a variety of formats, followed by self-check quizzes to solidify their learning.

The undergraduate nursing program is providing reviews of chemistry and biology material. Students can access these reviews along with other resources through OnQ.

Students entering the Bachelor of Health Sciences have access to recorded Quick Fire Q&As with their first-year professors where they can learn more about the expectations and format of their courses. As well, there are Virtual Meet & Greet sessions on Zoom, where students have the opportunity to meet staff and faculty members in a casual setting and get to know the people behind the email addresses.

Learn more

To learn more about all the different programs and to find out how to access the course materials, visit the SOAR Studies website.