Personalizing the University Experience
Being in university can sometimes feel like being a needle lost in the haystack of massive lecture theatres, crowded classes and overflowing dorms.
Sure grades are critical when it comes to getting into university but academic performance is just one part of a bigger picture when it comes to predicting student success. That’s why UBC introduced a broad based admissions process this year, to give prospective students the opportunity to tell us about their experiences and what they learned. It’s a change that allowed applicants to use their extracurricular experiences to their advantage and ultimately gain admission to UBC. It’s hoped the broadened criteria will work to increase student engagement and improve the student experience at UBC.
But adding a personal touch to the UBC experience didn’t stop at enrolment. Beyond the application and admission process, when students are admitted to UBC’s Vancouver campus they are assigned an Enrolment Services Professional (ESP) – a staff member who acts as their assigned advisor on matters outside of course planning – everything from paying their tuition, to applying for a government student loan, to ensuring they know what other campus support exists for them to navigate through their studies. An undergraduate students’ ESP acts as their first point of contact – and are able to support them from day one, right through graduation. “Navigating financial matters – quite often for the first time – is a large piece of the University-life puzzle. Having an ESP to work through a financial plan, point a student in the direction of needs based funding – while also being a friendly ear is a huge benefit to a student of any year level” says Darran Fernandez, associate director, Enrolment Services “and to have that person be able to support a student from the moment they first take out a student loan through to the moment they set up a repayment plan at the end of their study, adds to the comfort and personalization of our service.”
“We want university to be a successful and rewarding experience for students – and a big part of that is identifying issues and opportunities early, when there’s time to deal with them” says Jeaninne Cairns, a current ESP and UBC graduate student in Counselling Psychology. ESPs work to establish relationships with their students to reduce the shuffling that sometimes happens between offices – it allows for students to have a one-on-one experience among an institution of close to 50,000.