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As the summer winds down, one of the first signs of the start of the new term is the arrival of some of our newest students. Diversity and Immigrant Student Support in cooperation with International Education, offers a College Preparation and Orientation Program for international and immigrant students starting new academic programs each term. On August 20 and 21, we welcomed over 300 international and immigrant students for the Fall 2013 term at Red River College.
Although many of our international students have only recently arrived in Canada (one had landed in Winnipeg only hours before the first session!), most have been preparing for months … or even years … to come study at Red River College.
“For many of you, you may feel that you have finally arrived at the end of a long journey, but in many ways, your journey is just beginning. You will face many challenges during your time here, but we are here to support you.” Norlan Page, Student Integration Coordinator – addressing new students
Full of mixers, lectures, presentations, and socializing, the day was built around the themes of Landing, Living, Linking, and Learning. After being welcomed to Red River College by the President and CEO Stephanie Forsyth, Vice President of Community Development Christine Crowe, and Dean of Student Services Cindee Laverge, participants had the opportunity to map out their own personal goals, learn how to navigate the Canadian academic environment and local community, share their own stories with one another, and hear advice from students who have first-hand experience studying and thriving in their Red River College programs.
Many participants felt empowered as new students at Red River College after obtaining helpful strategies for their first days at class and information about student services they can access during their time at the College.
“I got lots of information and now I’m pretty confident that I can be successful in my program. If I have any problem I know where to go and that I can get the proper help from all the staff.” – Chandani, a student from India in the Aerospace Manufacturing Program at Stevenson Campus
“I need to just go home and review all the information myself. I think I’m very ready to start my studies, and I’m very happy to participate here.” Roja – Early Childhood Education Workplace Program where she will be spending part of the week on-campus and the rest of the time working in a local daycare.
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There’s no doubt about it, starting a new RRC program takes a lot of preparation. You need to buy supplies, plan your new (and intense!) daily schedule, and maybe take a sneak peek through your mountain of shiny new text books. This is all very good and necessary, but did you know that you could be ignoring one critical step, one that could determine your success at College?
It all comes down to a four letter word you should take time to get very familiar with.
Hope. It’s a little word with a great deal of power. Amazingly, new research is showing that students who come to College with high levels of hope tend to get higher grades, are more likely to graduate, and have reduced anxiety levels overall. Better still, a person’s Hope Level has shown to be a better predictor of College success than High School grades, IQ tests and personality traits.
It’s called Hope Theory, and the results of these news studies are leading Colleges and Universities to provide supports to students that focus not only on content areas like math and language skills, but for attitudinal issues like self-concept and goal setting.
So what exactly is a person’s “Hope Level”, what’s it made of?
Well, let’s start with what it isn’t. Hope used in this context is not a simple dream of the future or an unreasonable belief of success. Instead, researchers describe a person’s level of Hope as being made of three components:
- being able to envision a goal;
- being able to predict obstacles; and,
- having ability to plan to overcome those obstacles.
At its basic level, a high hope level means that you have a clear idea of where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there.
So. How can you harness the power of hope to improve your performance at RRC? We have a few suggestions.
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The Academic Success Centre offers free EAL tutoring to RRC students.
Here’s some advice from the on the best time to connect with a tutor.
- Speaking Quickly. Your instructor speaks really quickly and when she or he gives you instructions, you’re not really sure what the expectations are.
- Taking Notes. It’s hard to take notes in class. Sometimes, you’re not really sure if the instructor is talking about an important main idea or is just giving an example, or extra details. When you read your notes afterwards, they just look like one long list of important ideas, and they are not really useful for studying.
- Speaking up. It’s the first few weeks of your program and you feel shy to speak up in class. Sometimes you know the answer, but you don’t say anything. Sometimes you have questions for the instructor, but you’re nervous about asking them.
- Group work. You have to work in a small group to complete a project for class. One of the students in the group is kind of bossy and talks more than everybody else. You don’t agree with her opinion and you don’t want to follow her suggestions because you might get a low mark, but you don’t know how to tell her politely.
- Managing your Time. You just don’t have time to do all the reading that the instructors assign. What are you supposed to do?
- Vocabulary. There’s a lot of new vocabulary that you don’t understand. Which words should you spend time learning, and which words are okay to forget about? How can you learn the new vocabulary effectively, since you’re too busy to spend a lot of time on vocabulary study?
- Writing. You’re not used to writing long assignments with many paragraphs. How are you supposed to organize your ideas?
- Copying and Citation. You handed in an assignment that you thought was pretty good. You supported your ideas with lots of information from the textbook and other sources you found on the internet. However, your instructor told you that you copied too much. What should you do?
You may have heard the English phrase: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That means that if you can stop a problem before it starts, it is better than solving a problem after. The best time to see an EAL tutor is BEFORE a problem starts. When you start to feel confused or overwhelmed by anything in your class – that is the right time to see an EAL tutor.
An EAL tutor can help you with the situations in the examples above, and with many other situations, too. However, there are some things that an EAL tutor CAN’T do.
An EAL tutor can’t do your work for you.
If you bring your writing to a tutor, they can’t sit down and “fix” it for you. Instead, they will show you where the most important errors are, and help YOU to fix them.
An EAL tutor can’t help you with everything if you don’t give them enough time.
If you come in one week before your writing assignment is due and say “Please fix my grammar,” you may not be happy with the result. If you have many problems, the EAL tutor will not have time to help you with everything. They will have to choose the most important two or three errors to help you with. There may still be many errors in your final assignment.
This is because the EAL tutor will not be “fixing” your errors alone. He or she will be teaching YOU how to fix them. This takes time! If you want the EAL tutor to help you with your writing, it is especially important to come and see us as soon as you start to work on the assignment, so that the tutor has more time to help you.
We want to help you.
We know from experience that the best way to help you is by teaching you how to do the work yourself. Once you know how to find and correct your mistakes by yourself, you’ll be able to use that skill your whole life long. That’s REAL help!
Submitted by Michelle Amaya-Torres, EAL Specialist at the Academic Success Centre
Cycle your way to Academic Success
With the Tour de France in the “not too distant” past, let’s take a moment to align characteristics of a strong cyclist to those of a strong student.
It’s all about doing today what will prepare you for a better life tomorrow.
The first part to being a successful rider is to get on the bike.
There are no real shortcuts to becoming a better cyclist—you simply have to get on your bike.
The first part to being a successful student is is to take a seat in the class.
Material presented and explored in class is not a duplication of what you’ll read online or in your text book. If you miss the class, you miss essential information… plus you’ll miss the opportunity to work with and learn from your classmates. Attend all classes and use this time as optimal learning moments.
The second part to being a successful student is is to be engaged.
A cyclist will get nowhere if they are just sitting on their seat, they have to spin their peddles. The same holds true for students. Simply sitting in class for 12-18 hours a week isn’t enough…you must be an attentive, engaged and keen participant.
Try this today:
- Lead by reading the chapter of the day and outline before going to class, this aids in understanding and enhances classroom participation. This is a neat twist to simply coming to class, waiting for info to be imparted upon you. Instead come with a bank of knowledge that you can build upon in class.
- Think about key ideas, formulas and scenarios that will be presented.
- Come with a curious mind and a penchant for exploratory/discovery learning.
- Take abbreviated notes. Free yourself from the burden of taking down every word in class. Record essential points, signal words and essential concepts. To get more info and tools for effective Note taking, visit our ASC page.
- Summarize your notes in a different format within 24 hours. Think of connections & applications to promote your learning.
- Focus 100%. If you are mindful in class, you won’t have to relearn the info on your own. Use class time as a type of study opportunity.
- Talk with your instructors, EA’s or peers if you have questions or ideas, over-exposure yourself to great info.
- Never leave the class thinking the exact same way you entered.
There is so much more to attending class than just finding your seat. Try the above strategies and see how your academic life is enhanced, challenged & enjoyable. And, after class, take your bike out for a spin during these warm fall days!
Sumitted by Dayna Graham, Adult Learning Facilitator at the Academic Success Centre
Paths to Success is a student success initiative targeted to helping first year students connect with supports and services that will help them succeed and excel in their studies. The initiative is now in it’s ninth year and it is expected to engage almost 2,000 students this year.
Use Academic Supports
The College offers many academic resources for students, though the most valuable ones are often your instructors and fellow students. The College has an Academic Success Centre which offers individual and group tutoring to help students with their studies as well as Online Resources.
The Library also has a lot of great online research guides for specific programs – you should see if they have one for your program.
Participate in Student Events and Meet Friends
The Red River College Students’ Association hosts many events to get to know other students. The Aboriginal Student Centre and the Diversity and Immigrant Student Support Department also host regular events for students at the College. The College also has a LGBTT Initiative that you might be interested in learning more about.
Be Active, Reduce Stress
Many students find College to be overwhelming and stressful. Staying physically active and eating well are two common ways that people use to manage stress. Find out what recreational services are available at the College. The College also provides Health Services to students, with some valuable information on ways to reduce stress and be healthy.
If you need Help, Talk to Someone
Personal Counselling Services are available to College students at no charge. Counsellors can help students manage concerns such as stress, anxiety, depression, abuse, and family or relationship problems. Counsellors also help students with a disability access a range of educational support services. The College also has two Elders-in-Residence who are available to speak with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, as well as a counsellor to speak with Aboriginal students who need someone to talk to.
Preparing for a Career
The College offers Employment Services to current students and recent graduates, such as job postings targeted specifically to RRC students. The College hosts a Career Fair in the spring to connect students with employers. There are also opportunities for students to work as a tutor. The Student Awards and Financial Aid office has information on Student Loans and awards.
Good luck discovering your own Path to Success!
The fall semester has just begun, so it’s time to “Roll out the Red Carpet!” This RRC student blog is dedicated to providing stories, tips, and resources to improve student success, wellness, leadership and excellence.
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Good luck with your studies!