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Summer transition programs help to prepare new students

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: June 3, 2020 6:00 a.m.

Grade 12 students looking to get a head start on their university education can enrol in online Summer Transition Programs to help them succeed in the Fall.
Grade 12 students looking to get a head start on their university education can enrol in online Summer Transition Programs to help them succeed in the Fall. Photo: stock

Among the many changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic was a sudden and swift shift to distance education. Many high school students about to graduate have missed a large portion of their senior year and are searching for ways to ease their transition to university in the Fall. 

To help incoming University of Regina students succeed, Summer Transition Programs are being offered for wanting to get a jump on their studies, develop their skill, and receive university credit. 

As the lead for a working group dedicated to COVID-19 educational supports related to the pandemic, Dr. Nilgun

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Dr. Nilgun Önder and the High
School to University Transition
Committee have worked to create
online opportunities for incoming
U of R students to prepare for
university life.
Photo: U of R Photography

Önder, Vice-President (Academic) oversaw many initiatives designed to ensure U of R students were set up to succeed in a virtual learning environment. From that work, she has become acutely aware of some of the challenges facing students as they shift to remote learning.  

“Our first priority when the pandemic hit, was to make sure our current students were equipped for the shift to remote learning,” said Önder. “Then we quickly turned our attention to how we could offer programs for incoming U of R students to succeed when they begin courses in the Fall.” 

The High School to University Transition Committee, which is composed of representatives from the three Regina area school divisions and the University, discussed the University’s provision of additional opportunities for Grade 12 students entering the University to help with their transition. 

“We took a long look at the services already offered for students in the summer months, and discussed how we could better utilize and adapt these to help our incoming students,” said Önder.  

Through the U of R’s Student Success Centre, programs are offered year round to provide guidance and support to students. One of the Centre’s highly successful programs is the Summer Bridge Program – a two-month program offering a month of pre-work activities in July and daily lessons and coursework in August. Now in its fourth year – and its first year as an online offering - the program has grown each year and serves as an ideal way for new students to overcome many of the educational challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Krisanne Gossard, Associate Director, Student Success Centre, notes the improved outcomes of Program participants compared to their peers. 

“The 61 students who completed the Summer Bridge Program last year all passed the class, and with a much higher average than those in the same courses offered in the Fall,” says Gossard. “Our surveys from the beginning and at the end of the program showed these students felt far more confident and prepared for university after completion.” 

Two different courses will be available for students through the Summer Bridge Program, either English 100: Introduction to Reading and Writing or Math 102: Pre-Calculus. English 100 was chosen as it is a required course for most U of R degree programs, and Math 102 is an elective course that provides a thorough refresher of Grade 12 math for anyone in numbers-based programs. On July 8, a virtual orientation will kick-off the inaugural online version of the Summer Bridge Program. 

“Students will receive a pre-work syllabus with tasks that they need to complete before August 3, but there are no virtual class times in July,” says Gossard. “It might be read this book or complete these math assignments, but it is all done on your own time.” 

In addition to providing flexibility, the added pre-work time ensures that students who wish to take Summer

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Krisanne Gossard and the Student
Success Centre offer year round
supports for U of R students.
Photo: U of R Photography

courses are able to receive student loan funding normally unavailable for three-week classes. 

“Funding can be a barrier for many wishing to take classes in the Summer term; the loan is a timely and practical benefit for this year,” says Gossard. 

Class sizes are small and set up for students to make friends and connections even before classes start in the Fall. From August 4-27, students are in virtual class Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with an hour for lunch. The days are split up with half of the day being focused on coursework and the other half learning about life at the U of R, services available for students, study and work time, and developing skills needed to succeed at the next academic level. 

“Some of the workshops will be about time management, note taking, and general study skills – even how to succeed in a remote learning environment,” says Gossard. “We also provide one-on-one review with a student and discuss how they could have improved their graded assignments.” 

When students start their studies at the U of R in the Fall, it can often feel overwhelming and accessing services can be daunting. Through the Summer Bridge Program, students are able to learn about many campus services in a relaxed environment. 

“We connect the students to counselling, the Archer Library, our Federated Colleges, and many other services,” says Gossard. “They may not need these services right away, but at some point they might and they’ll know how to access them.” 

With so much change happening in the world, and many students spending significantly more time at home, Gossard noted the tremendous opportunity available for students to get a head start on their degree. 

“With physical distancing and many other restrictions still in place, you really can’t go anywhere. Why not get a jump on your studies?” says Gossard. “The Summer Bridge Program will help you feel more confident as your begin your U of R career.” 

For incoming students who do not wish to partake in the voluntary Summer Bridge Program but are interested in getting an early start on their U of R education, special sections have been added to Math 102 and Chemistry 100: Introductory Chemistry. These sections offer additional tutoring and learning supports for students. The two courses are scheduled for July-August, and recent high school graduates and Grade 12 students who have been admitted to the University can register in these sections through the Casual Studies Program. 

Students who have been admitted to the Faculty of Science or plan to take foundational Science courses can also attend the Faculty’s free daily Zoom workshops during the last week of August. 

“These are optional programs, but great opportunities,” says Önder. “We hope students will use the Summer to ease into life at the U of R and set themselves up for success in the Fall semester, the next semester, and for the rest of their degree.”  

Related 

To learn more about the Summer Bridge Program, including related costs, visit the Student Success Centre.

To learn more about summer programming available for high school students, including related costs, please visit the URReady site