Every fall, Joseph Stapleton runs orientation as many as twenty times.
“Logistically, it would be nice to get that all at once,” says Stapleton, manager of student life at George Brown College. “[But] instead of having orientation for 5,000 students at any one time, we’ll do multiple orientations for 300 students; it creates that intimacy.”
With three campuses located in the heart of downtown Toronto, large spaces are not easy to come by. Stapleton also has the added challenge of juggling students from all lifestyles with vastly different schedules, from 17-year-old high school graduates to working parents to international students.
That means many of the activities that come out of the student life office are geared toward student advancement. George Brown’s student leadershipacademy, for instance, provides networking opportunities through volunteer opportunities and workshops, and a chance to build leadership skills through a three-day leadership retreat.
“We help students understand the intentionality behind getting involved, and the importance of both social and academic connectedness as indicators of success,” Stapleton says.
Getting students involved in campus life can sometimes be a challenge, according to Juan Mendoza, a second-year business student and acoordinator with Seneca College’s student federation. Mendoza oversees student clubs, and says class schedules and age differences have led to low attendance.
In fact, clubs that have garnered most interest are the ones that are program related.
“People in college are more focused on their studies, and they want to join a club to network and meet people in [their] industry,” says Mendoza.
Still, he thinks the relatively small number of campus groups can be an advantage because it allows students of similar interests to congregate in one place, rather than form multiple similar groups.
For Karamjeet Singh, a recent graduate who is the current president of Centennial College’s student association, the secret to a balanced student life is to be proactive.
Having just completed one semester at the college, Singh became an international student ambassador, a position created by student services to help new international students transition and settle into Canada and the college. He continued to be involved in other campus initiatives throughouthis time at Centennial College and started his own club before becoming vicepresident of the student government last year.
His advice to prospective students?
“Get out of your comfort zone and get engaged – if you use all the resources, it will help you achieve your potential.”