After 20 years of helping students succeed as they start university, it’s clear that the Enriched Support Program (ESP) also directly benefits Carleton.
“ESP provides the opportunity for people to go to Carleton who otherwise might not be able to,” says Allie Davidson, a former ESP student. “These students bring diverse insights, experiences and attitudes into the classroom that may be missing without them.”
ESP is a one-year transition program run by the Centre for Initiatives in Education that allows students to take first-year credit courses with some extra support and direction.
“Had I enrolled in university without the support of ESP, I could have been another dropout statistic,” said Davidson. “First year was overwhelming but ESP helped guide me and I came out the other end with a new set of skills and a very different attitude towards learning.”
For ESP grads like Davidson, the program was integral in bolstering her confidence and her interest as a student.
Davidson graduated from Carleton with an Honours BA in Psychology and a minor in Communication Studies in 2011 and completed a master’s degree from the University of Ottawa in Education with a concentration in Teaching, Learning, and Evaluation in 2013.
Now she works at Carleton’s Educational Development Centre as an ePortfolio Developer, giving support to instructors and students using educational technology.
Since 1996, more than 3,200 students have enrolled in ESP programs offering a non-traditional route to degree programs at Carleton. By taking university-level courses during the program, students develop reading, writing and critical thinking skills required to complete a degree. Weekly workshops offer tools to understand and study course materials.
The facilitators are not teachers but guides. They are there to help students acclimatize to the challenges of the university experience and share skills to help them thrive as they continue in a degree program.
At 19, Daniel Crépault was a former high school dropout who had recently completed a high school equivalency (GED). He was too young to enrol as a mature student and not qualified to apply directly to an undergraduate program.
“I first heard about ESP through someone in my church who worked in the registrar’s office at the time,” said Crépault. “ESP helped me by providing me with the opportunity to attend university when I didn’t really have the qualifications to do so through the regular admission process.”
Crépault went on to earn a master’s in Legal Studies just two years after he received an Honours BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice with a minor in English Language and Literature in 2011. Now he’s working on a Criminology PhD at the University of Ottawa.
Following his ESP year, Crépault decided to pay it forward. For three years, he worked as mentor, senior mentor and workshop facilitator to help others understand the lessons from their lectures and make sense of the content in a way that worked for them.
Anyone curious about ESP can learn more about the program at the monthly information night. The next one is on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in Room 2017 of Dunton Tower.
Carleton Now will profile several ESP grads throughout 2016 in honour of the program’s 20th anniversary.