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Laurier helps open doors to higher education
Nov 28/11| For Immediate Release
Carol Jankowski, Acting Manager of Communications
Kevin Crowley, Director, Communications & Public Affairs
WATERLOO ó In December, the first 12 high school students in Wilfrid Laurier Universityís new Building Bridges to Success program will complete their first university credit after attending lectures on Laurierís Waterloo campus since September.
Building Bridges to Success: Creating Links to Post-Secondary Education is a transition program for students facing financial and other barriers to post-secondary education. It offers senior high school students an opportunity to discover what it takes to be successful at university.
Laurier launched the program in September with a gift of $425,000 from the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation in partnership with Pathways to Education.
There are two components to Building Bridges: the four-month university credit course and a two-month program focused on study skills, which is also taught on Laurierís Waterloo campus. Both programs are free.
Over the next five years, more than 200 students will benefit from Building Bridges. Students chosen for the university credit course attend three hours of classes each week on Laurierís Waterloo campus. They also participate in course tutorials on good study habits.
Students in the university credit program are usually motivated and engaged in their high school studies, but may assume they are not university material, often for family or financial reasons.† Building Bridges is designed to show them that such an assumption is wrong.
"We are creating opportunities for students who find it hard to imagine themselves as belonging in a university or college setting,Ē says Lindsay Lawrence, Laurierís program co-ordinator for Building Bridges.
Beyond taking a sociology course, the first group of students has been taught how to learn independently, take good notes and manage their time, studies and exams effectively.
On a deeper level, they are learning to think more critically, to apply theory to real-life situations, and to have the confidence to hold their own in class. And then there's the fun of experiencing the extra-curricular life of a university with a student card that gives them all-round access to campus life.
To keep it all on track, a Laurier staff member is available to provide support and guidance if needed.
Since I've been in Building Bridges, I've got a whole different way of looking at my education," says Sandra Czekaljo, 17, who is in the first cohort. "Grade 12 helps to prepare you academically for university, but it doesn't really get you ready for what it's like to be a university student. There's so much emotional change you go through. We've learned to become so much more mature and reliant on ourselves. Now I know that it's up to me ó whatever I do at school and with my life."
Classmate Sagal Muse, also 17, has her eye on a career in international business.
ďI see this as a really good opportunity to learn the skills Iíll need to succeed at university,Ē she says. ďIím applying at Laurier for next year, and now I know Iíll be ready. I want to tell other students to try this program and donít be intimidated. In the end, weíre all just students.Ē
The other component of Building Bridges to Success is a certificate program called University/College 101. Available to 40 qualified high school students with financial need, the eight-week preparatory course introduces students to campus life and explains how expectations of students differ between high school and post-secondary education. It also offers practical advice on studying, note-taking, writing tests and using a laptop in class.
Students interested in University/College 101 should have a minimum 65-per-cent average in senior high school courses. Students considering the university credit course must be eligible for university studies and have a minimum 75-per-cent average.
University/College 101 is offered twice a week from February to April. Students attend Tuesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. or Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Applications, which must be accompanied by a teacher or guidance counsellorís recommendation, will be accepted until Dec. 6. A total of 40 students can be accommodated.
For more information on either program or to submit an application for University/College 101, call Lori Lougheed in Laurierís Learning Services at 519-884-0710, ext. 4479. Information is also online at www.wlu.ca/buildingbridges