University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Calming First-Year Jitters

Workshops help incoming students deal with stresses of university life

Getting oriented and adjusting to life as a university student can be a daunting task – factor in the double cohort and it’s a recipe for student angst. This year, a series of existing student-services workshops were repackaged and expanded to improve the student experience for U of T’s largest – and youngest – first-year class. Run by U of T Student Services, the First Year Initiative Program (FYI) offers workshops and seminars in such areas as learning skills, personal and psychological issues, and aboriginal student concerns. Within the first two months, about 1,500 students signed up for workshops devoted to such topics as overcoming procrastination, writing multiple-choice exams and exploring self-esteem issues.

Marilyn Van Norman (MA 1991), director of student services and the Career Centre, helped implement the program, which includes a monthly pizza lunch in which students can share their concerns. “We see an increasing number of commuter students participating in these workshops and that’s something we want to build on,” she says. “The students really relate to this initiative and see it as being helpful in improving their overall experience here.” For more information on FYI, visit the Web site

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