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The right support for first-year students

For incoming first year students, September is an exciting time. However, the start to this year will look very different from those in the past. With social distancing a major part of our society, educational institutions have to take this into consideration. They will want to welcome as many first-year students as possible onto campus, but health and safety will always be the priority. With blended learning and a blended kick-off to the academic year, students need to be well informed and well supported by their educational institutions.

When a first-year student enrols and begins induction, certain information must be clear. Not only do they need information but they also need to be signposted to places where they can get support, whether it be in person or online.

Uncertainties and special needs

Making the leap to higher education marks a significant phase in a student’s life. First-year students find themselves in a new environment, with new people, often living away from home for the first time. All of these changes have an immense impact on students, both in terms of their academic and social lives. Often these changes result in uncertainties students have to deal with.

To deal with this new situation in the best way possible, it is important these students get off to a good start and settle into the educational institution. What helps is when a student has an advisor, a peer mentor or simply a first point of contact at his or her disposal whenever they might need it. This person can either directly support students or redirect them to the right person or department, to get the support they need in their specific situation.

There are also a number of students who require additional help with their studies such as those with dyslexia or dyspraxia. In some cases, an allowance for extra exam time can be made. This will usually have to be requested in advance, from the examination office. This department will be very important for those students in enabling them to succeed in their students.

Getting in contact

As an educational institution, it is imperative your students get the right support. This means that key information has to be visible and all relevant points of contact need to be known to students. When creating your contact strategy, this is an important factor. You will have to take into account the information that needs to be shared with students, and the channels through which the information could be best distributed.

Useful information has to be accessible to every student. 74% of all students indicate they would like to be able to access this information via their smartphones. Whenever an educational institution utilises a smartphone app to communicate with students, such as the StuCommApp, this information is easy to add. The same goes for a personalised overview of the most important contacts for every student, including their contact details. Carefully evaluate your channels, find out what your students prefer and provide the information they need.

Would you like to give your first-year students a flying start to their academic journey? Get in contact!

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