A second chance at success

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

Students who have withdrawn from Wilfrid Laurier University now have a second chance at completing their programs.

The faculty of arts launched the “Strategies for Academic Success” pilot project aimed at helping students who were forced to withdraw from their programs due to academic requirements to come back to Laurier.

In the last three years, Mercedes Rowinsky, associate dean of student affairs and special projects in the faculty of arts, said she’s had numerous students ask her how to stay at the university once they’re required to withdraw. Rowinsky said most students do not come back to Laurier once they are required to take courses at different institutions for a year.

“We did a survey and we found out that barely 10 per cent come back to Laurier, and we have to remember that these are students that have to live at Laurier — they’re happy at Laurier,” said Rowinsky.

According to Rowinsky, in most cases students are unsuccessful academically because they are in difficult financial situations or have to work a full-time job.

This inspired Rowinsky to think of ways in which students can come back and complete their programs.

“[Students] are going to take this as a test and say, I’m having issues but I’m allowed to stay at Laurier — so I think it’s a more formative approach than the previous approach of sending them to be away for a year,” Rowinsky said.

The project will start in the fall of 2015.

Rowinsky, as well as others working on the project, will monitor students with peer, academic and faculty mentoring.

During the first semester, students will take two six-week courses, reflecting on how they learn, how they create, as well as look into their time management and presentation skills. Students will take what they learned from the first half and apply them to the second half of the semester.

“A big part of the program is identifying how we learn and how you learn, so it’s kind of getting behind the scenes and letting the student understand the process by which they can be successful and then implementing those strategies,” said Ruth MacNeil, acting university registrar.

If students receive a 4.0 grade point average in their non-credit courses during the fall, they are able to move forward into the winter term as a part-time student.

Rowinsky explained there are 100 spots available and it’s first come, first served.

As of now, the project’s team is in the process of identifying the students who will receive invitations to consider participating in the program.

The first class will be identified by the end of May.

“I’m hopeful that this is going to create a more supportive environment for students facing challenges and this is the spirit of who we are as a community, I think this is important because this reflects who we are as an institution.”

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