Under the Archway: Supporting students and their academic success in first year

This series explores support services for students at McMaster. These supports align with the university’s new Archway program, which provides a personal support program for incoming first-year students.

The transition to university-level academics is an area of concern for Grade 12 students and their parents.

Jenna Storey, academic skills coordinator with McMaster’s Student Success Centre (SSC) and former Grade 12 teacher, recognizes that students entering university this fall will likely do so with larger learning gaps. Through programs like Archway and the academic skills programs offered by the SSC, Storey wants to reassure incoming students that McMaster has you covered.

“In these uncertain times, students and parents look to summer programming to promote resiliency and build academic confidence,” says Storey.

For the last five years, the Student Success Centre has taken a blended approach of in-person and online initiatives to prepare for the academic year, ranging from mock lectures to workshops, student blogs, livestreams, and online programming.

“We have crafted the programs to provide hands-on learning opportunities and to give a realistic sense of academic life.”

The blended approach has also positioned the academic team well for adapting their services to a fully online format this summer.

One of the Student Success Centre’s newest initiatives for 2020 will be an extended version of the widely successful Summer Writing Program. Last year, 100 per cent of students who participated said they would recommend it to a friend.

The Summer Writing Program will take place over two weeks this July. Along with developing writing skills, the program will also be an opportunity for incoming students to try one of McMaster University’s online learning platforms, Avenue to Learn, before classes begin.

Additionally, the Student Success Centre is enhancing their signature online academic program for first-year students. The Academic Skills Prep Series will launch this July as a six-week program.

Students can participate in this program at their own pace, engage with other students, and develop skills in areas such as time management, note-taking, online learning, reading and writing, and being a university learner.

“After getting that acceptance letter, get excited about your new academic life,” says Mary McCaffrey, academic skills program coordinator at the Student Success Centre. “We’ll give you a head start by talking about university expectations while helping you connect with staff and fellow students.”

More information about these programs will be published on the Student Success Centre’s website this summer.