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How to support your student during their first year

A guide for parents, caregivers and others

July 26, 2021 — 

As a parent, caregiver, family member or friend providing support to a student, you are most likely invested in their education. As they prepare for their first year at the University of Manitoba, there are many ways you can assist them to be more confident and independent in their transition from high school to university, especially through today’s unique circumstances due to COVID-19.

First and foremost, encourage your student to participate in First Year Programming. Doing so introduces them to crucial information that will help them feel prepared and supported in their journey. Remind students to check the email address used in their application as well as their @myumanitoba email address (after claiming their signUM account) to keep them up to date with important communications regarding welcome events, preparation resources and information about the year ahead.

UM Commons is an online hub specifically created to connect new students with the UM community and tools and information they need to make the most of their first year. The First Year Planning Guide and the advising team in the First Year Centre are also great resources to assist your student with exploring and selecting courses necessary for the first year in any UM undergrad program. Additionally, the Virtual Advising Help Centre (VAHC) consists of a team of students who you can chat with live about the UM experience, including on evenings and weekends.

Students’ most important cheerleaders

Receiving support from family members, friends and other caregivers significantly impacts a student’s academic success, even more so through this pivotal point in their life. While you may not always agree with your student’s academic choices, it is important to remember that showing respect for their choices is key to their success.  Show support by doing things with them, not for them, such as researching programs, meeting with advisors and registering for courses. This not only encourages them to direct their own path, but also empowers them as they make these decisions with you by their side.

Showing a genuine interest in what they are studying and getting involved with on campus is a great way to build stronger connections with your student. Additionally, discussing information from lectures, textbooks and other course materials helps them comprehend and recall course content, and can even inspire them to discover the parts of their education that interests them most.

It is most important to remind your student that asking for help is normal and part of every student’s experience. Here are just a few of the many places where all UM students can find support: 

  • Financial Aid and Awards connects students with scholarships, bursaries, and award opportunities.
  • The Academic Learning Centre helps students strengthen their studying, writing and research skills.
  • Career Services helps with career planning, effective job search techniques, and looking for work-integrated learning experiences.
  • Student Accessibility Services provides students with disabilities with alternative in-class learning resources, test and exam accommodations, and campus access.

Maintaining both physical and mental well-being has never been more important. This is especially true for new students who are learning to balance a post-secondary workload with work, family obligations and extracurricular activities. Students can access support from many units at UM, including but not limited to the following:

  • University Health Service provides primary care services on campus, such as physical examinations, diagnosing and treatment of health concerns, immunization and so on.
  • The Student Counselling Centre offers free and confidential workshops, individual and group counselling programs.
  • The Health and Wellness Office is a safe, inclusive and judgement-free space for all students to access programming and information on personal health and well-being.
  • Recreation Services helps students stay active with recreational programming on campus and virtual options for workout sessions.

Expectations and the limits of sharing

There are certain boundaries to parent and caregiver involvement at UM. Regardless of age or who is paying for a student’s tuition, the Freedom of Information and Protection Privacy Act (FIPPA) prevents the university from releasing information about a student to anyone other than that student.

First Year Experience Programming and other important dates

Orientation events for new students will be delivered online. Right now, students should be working their way through UM Essentials, an 8-module course intended to help your student prepare for studies at UM. Prep Week kicks off August 30. New students have the chance to sit in on virtual lectures, learn strategies for academic skill development, connect with other students and meet important support staff and faculty members, all dedicated to your student’s success during their first year at UM. Welcome Day will be held on September 7, 2021, with UM community leaders officially welcoming new students as they begin their first year.

Course registration is well under way, but upcoming important dates and deadlines include:

  • First Day of Classes for the Fall Term – September 8, 2021
  • Course Drop Date: The last date to drop a course with a refund for Fall term and Fall/Winter term spanning courses – September 21, 2021
  • Course Add Date: The last date to add a course for Fall term and Fall/Winter term spanning courses – September 22, 2021
  • Fall Tuition Fee Payment Deadline – October 6, 2021

Additional dates and information for International Student Orientation are available, covering topics related to Canadian culture, Indigenous history and reconciliation, rental housing in Manitoba, managing finances for newcomers, and more.

Follow @umfirstyearcentre on Instagram for content specifically created for first year students, and @umstudent on Instagram to get a glimpse of student life at the university. UM Commons will be updated throughout the summer with information about upcoming programming.

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