New interactive program to help students ‘own their first day’ on campus
First year. First day. First class.
New students will experience many new firsts when they arrive at York University to begin studies this September. It is vitally important for both students and their parental or family supports to start this new journey fully informed and on the right foot. Whether they are high school students, transfer students, mature students or international students, there is an extensive amount of coordinated programming in place to make the transition to university a smooth and enriching process.
At York, for most students, this exciting journey begins with YU START, a student transition program that was initiated as an Academic Innovation Fund project and this year garnered two national awards including the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) Innovation Award and second place in the Quality and Innovation Awards presented by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO). YU START is a collaboration of Faculties, Colleges, the Division of Students and University Institutional Technology with content contributed by dozens of offices from both campuses.
Since its inception, YU START has grown from a single program with approximately 700 students, to include 194 academic programs with roughly 11,000 students. It has expanded to include specific content for mature students, graduate students, international students, residence students and varsity athletes. In 2017, YU START also went bilingual to incorporate the Glendon campus.
The first step of the YU START program began in May, and included assisting students with their enrolment process and helping them learn about key information and services at York. The second step of the program is an online learning community that runs throughout the summer, where students learn the essentials of starting their time at York on the right foot through a series of multimedia and interactive modules. During this time, students will also be able connect with other incoming students in their program within Facebook groups facilitated by trained, senior peers to become familiar with campus life and various student supports.
To assist this transition, a new initiative called YORK101 kicked off the week of June 12 and promises to help new students “own their first day.”
Complementing YU START, the campaign runs all summer and serves to keep students abreast of important first-year transition and orientation information by delivering timely topics through social media and a series of online videos all easily identified by the hashtag, #YORK101.
A unique component of the effort includes an optional on-campus experience where students can take a tour and find their classes, pick up their student card and learn about first year by speaking directly with senior student leaders. Parents and family are encouraged to attend as well, so they can learn how to be the best possible support for their student.
Registration for the on-campus component of YORK101 is now open at orientation.yorku.ca/york-101-own-your-first-day, and online content can be followed on the RED Zone Facebook page at facebook.com/yorksredzone, Twitter account at twitter.com/yorksredzone and Instagram account at instagram.com/yorksredzone.
Orientation Week marks the beginning of the school year for many students, and will run from Sept. 2 to 10. The week of activities includes an integrated mixture of academic and social events. A highlight event is York Orientation Day, which takes place from 1 to 8pm on Wednesday, Sept. 6 and features the official York Welcome Ceremony from 6:30 to 8pm.
Academic and social orientation events are sorted according to College or Faculty affiliation and each group handles registration for their particular events. The orientation website at orientation.yorku.ca will be updated throughout the summer with full event and registration details as they become available. The site also includes a handy tool called the ‘College Finder’ that helps students determine what college they belong to. Students can then link to their college and correct orientation events.
It takes the entire campus to welcome the incoming class, and you can help by joining YU Belong. YU Belong is a welcome-to-York-University campaign by faculty and staff for the incoming class. Because York is a big place, new students and their parents usually have a lot of questions during their first several days on campus. Staff and faculty can volunteer to help them by wearing a highly visible and identifiable YU Belong button. When new students and parents see an individual wearing this button they’ll know they can confidently ask them for assistance. It’s a really simple idea that creates a solid sense of community and belonging.
The YU Belong program is promoted to new students as part of orientation via various social media channels and through YU START. Staff and faculty can register to be a part of YU Belong right now at orientation.yorku.ca/yubelong. YU Belong volunteers will also be invited to assist at York Orientation Day with wayfinding and the York-wide Welcome Ceremony.