For many SMUS students, the transition to university can be a jarring experience. After years of enjoying small class sizes, strong support from teachers and the familiarity of peers, students suddenly find themselves in a new and unfamiliar environment in which they can feel like just another face in the crowd.
“My observation of the SMUS graduates I’ve met,” says University Counselling Director Whitney Laughlin, “is that if they struggle to adjust to university life, the causes have less to do with academics than the other issues associated with life beyond the bubble of SMUS.” To help ease our students – not to mention their parents – into life beyond the bubble, the University Counselling department sponsored an event last week that gathered SMUS alumni, former SMUS parents, and special guests from the University of Victoria to give advice to our graduating families.
At Beyond the Bubble, participants rotated through tables that covered managing finances, living in residence, mental health and more. Each table was hosted by an alum, parent or guest, who facilitated discussion and answered questions. Particularly interesting were the seven alumni guests, who were very open about their experiences at university. Asked what his biggest challenge was when he started the mechanical engineering program at UVic, alumnus Stephen Lyon ’08 summed it up in a word: “Freedom,” he said, “too much, too soon.”
Grade 12 student Gabrielle Jeliazkov, who is currently deciding whether to go to the UK or stay in Canada next year, says that although much of the information wasn’t necessarily new, “it was great to be able to ask questions of the alums who had been in our shoes.” And for soon-to-be-past SMUS parent John Wenzel, whose son Julian Allen will be attending St. Mary’s College in California this fall, the evening gave him a broad base of information with the valuable insights of the table hosts. Most of all, John says, he appreciated the proactive effort of the school “to give graduates an idea of what to expect instead of just saying goodbye and throwing them out there to figure it out for themselves.”
And that, says Whitney Laughlin, was the primary goal of the evening: “helping our students identify the resources they should know about before they go.”
Grade 12 student Liam Maclure produced these two short videos in which he asks his classmates to look ahead and a group of alums to look back at their experiences beyond the bubble.