Some of the most common questions family members have are whether their students will do well academically and achieve their goals, and what services are available to support them as they adapt to the changes and challenges of university. In this section, we’ll explain some of the differences between learning at high school and university, and what is available at Guelph to support your student’s academic and social transition.
Why Do New Students Need Academic Support?
The majority of our first-year students, most of them high achievers in high school, use the services offered by the Learning Commons in the Library. Why? Learning in high school and learning in university are not the same. While many high school students work hard in their studies, first year courses at university emphasize new skills and ways of learning. In university it’s not just about working hard; it’s also about working differently, and that is where the Learning Commons comes in. Most incoming students simply haven't had the opportunity to develop the range of academic skills required to succeed in university courses. These skills include managing time and controlling procrastination; adapting to new kinds of learning, advanced writing, and research; and working independently. The Library’s Learning Commons has numerous services, including individual appointments, workshops, handouts, and online resources, to assist students in the academic transition. All of the resources mentioned here can be found through the University of Guelph’s Library website. All new students, regardless of their skill set coming out of high school, can benefit from information on how to study or write at a university level, advice from successful senior students, or reassurance that they’re approaching their course work in an effective way.
Every student accepted to the University of Guelph has the base tool set to succeed. Even before the fall semester begins, students can find out more about what’s expected in university courses and how they are different from high school. Encourage the student to read the START Guide on www.startonline.ca. During the year, encourage them to ask for help if they are struggling.
University students have more freedom in their courses and are expected to set goals and establish priorities for themselves. Homework and class attendance are normally not checked, so self- motivation is critical for getting to class, keeping up with course work, and completing assignments on time. Students must decide for themselves what homework to do, how much to do, and when to do it. Students are responsible adults and are expected to be independent and self-directed learners. Encourage your student to start class work the Thursday after Labour Day, or they are likely to fall behind.
About Lower Marks
A drop in marks is not inevitable in first year, but many students do find that their average goes down to some extent from high school. The mark drop is largely a reflection of the transition from high school to university-style learning (and living), and the academic adjustments that even the brightest students have to make. For students who do experience a drop in marks, it’s important to keep things in perspective. A drop in marks does not mean that they aren’t suited for university study, or won’t be able to reach their goals. A mark drop does suggest, however, that students could benefit from advice and information on how to approach their studies more strategically or manage their time more effectively. First-year students can minimize any drop in their average by taking advantage of the many support services offered in the Library.
U of G has an Academic Advising Team. Encourage the student to get to know what academic advising is available before September.
U of G students have access to all library resources using their Student ID card as your library card. Students can access resources on campus, at home, or on the go at www.lib.uoguelph.ca. The library offers many services, including:
- One-on-ones: Appointments for advice and information about developing effective study strategies, time-management techniques, presentation skills, writing help, research and more!
- Supported Learning Groups (SLGs): SLGs are free, peer-led study groups held on a weekly basis to help students in larger, historically challenging classes. Information will be posted on their website closer to September.
- Digital Learning Commons: The digital learning commons has a variety of accessible online content to help with learning, writing, and research.
- Workshops: Each semester, the library holds workshops that help with a variety of topics like presenting, writing, controlling academic stress, and more.