With a fresh batch of prospective students set to begin their university career, so is the summer programming for their orientation. New students might enter the university realm feeling unprepared for the distinct changes from high school. Enter the Head Start and LEAP (Leadership-Engagement-Academic Success-Purpose) programs, designed to help students make the necessary preparations for post-secondary life.

On the nature of the Head Start events, Craig Chipps, manager of Laurier Brantford’s recruitment services, commented, “We want them [students] to feel comfortable around campus, and to know this is going to be home in the next 4-5 years.”

Head Start acts as an early Orientation Week, bringing prospective students to the campus to get acquainted with their new environment. This year’s Head Start lineup, having already begun with a June 14 session for prospective Concurrent Education students, will include an additional six sessions, through to July 12. Of the six total remaining sessions, two will be restricted to only Concurrent Education students, set for July 4 and 7.

Each date, as Chipps explained, is comprised of a series of information sessions for parents and students alike, one of which is run by Chipps himself.

“Parents have a session with the Dean, to talk about the life of a student, first year structure, academic integrity,” Chipps explained. “After that, they have a session with me, to talk about how to support their student.”

While parents are being informed by the Laurier Head Start staff on how to do their part in support of their children, students are given the opportunity to ensure that their schedule is arranged according to their needs and desires. Students and their parents can then reunite to engage in information sessions on any campus subject matter of their choice, whether it is athletics and recreation, residence information, student life engagement or others. At the end of the day, attendees can enjoy barbecued treats, and take the optional campus tour.

For Chipps, sessions like these can make the difference between a student who is more or less engaged in campus life and activities.

“If [students] never really given it much thought, or never see the campus ahead of time, then it’s going to be more difficult,” Chipps commented. He also inferred that participation in Head Start has a significant impact on students.

“Students who attend Head Start are more engaged,” Chipps stated. “Research shows that students that are engaged on campus improve their grades by one full grade point.”

Students who wish to learn more about potential campus engagement opportunities can also attend the LEAP program in Brantford, later in the summer. LEAP takes the next step toward student involvement in campus organizations. Unlike Head Start, it does not simply serve a university orientation purpose, but rather as both an orientation and a chance for incoming students to develop leadership skills for future campus involvement.

Matt Mente, the Learning & Co-Curricular Programming Assistant for Student Affairs in Brantford, said, “Our primary goal is to prepare them for success in university by focusing on their leadership skills and giving them the tools to succeed both in and outside of the classroom.”

The program lineup will include a series of workshops, based on team-building and delegation. A personal favourite of Mente’s is the exceptionality lunch, in which team leaders must act out an “exceptionality” or “impairment” over the course of the meal, whether mental or physical. To add to the diversity sessions, will be a photo scavenger hunt.

“We have a ton of stuff. It’s a really packed weekend,” Mente commented. “Sessions cover everything from teambuilding,
to goal setting.”

Stressing the value of the program, Mente concluded, stating, “The concepts we introduce students at LEAP are all things that come up again and again at university, particularly when you’re volunteering for any kind of organization on campus.”

The LEAP conference will cover the second weekend of August, from the 9 until the 11.

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