Carleton creates supportive “culture of success”

Carleton is taking university student support to a whole new level, according to Suzanne Blanchard, Associate Vice-President (Enrolment Management) and University Registrar.

After years of planning a variety of support programs for its students, Carleton is wrapping up its offerings in a one-stop package called Carleton Complete. The concept of the package of initiatives is “to promote the culture of success” at the university, says Blanchard, “not only education in the classroom, but a complete educational experience with the complementary academic and personal support services.”

Bringing all supportive services under one umbrella, she explains, “helps students realize how many services there are and that they can easily access them.”

Peer assistance for students taking difficult courses, writing tutoring, career fairs, job and learning skills workshops, and help for students with disabilities have been in existence for some years, but Carleton is launching new and better ways to encourage student engagement and leadership and catch students who might be struggling academically before it’s too late.

New initiatives include an “early warning” program, which examines midterm grade reports, for example, to identify students who are having difficulty with a course and sets up appointments to discuss an improvement plan; a student mental health advisory committee to target student wellbeing and training and information sessions for faculty and staff; a new exam centre to accommodate students with learning disabilities, equipped with computers enhanced with software to aid students with visual or hearing impairments among other accommodation support; and, the co-curricular transcript, an official record of extra-curricular involvement, leadership accomplishments, community service activities, and professional and educational development opportunities.

The co-curricular transcript, which can set a student apart when he or she moves into the work world or graduate studies, will be launched in the fall of 2009.

“This is a tool for students to promote themselves when looking for a job or going on to pursue further studies,” says Blanchard.
Another new component of the Carleton Complete program is registration assistance, which ensures students gain access to the mandatory classes required to complete their degree program on time. The University Registrar’s Office has set up a new web-based program to simplify the process.

Building on its unparalleled success, the First Year Experience Office will expand its mandate and become the Student Experience Office, encouraging all undergraduate students, not just those in their first year, to become involved on and off campus. On top of existing programs for first-year students, new ones are in the works: Frost Week is a welcome-back activity program to promote school pride and engagement for students in January, while Learning to Lead will provide leadership opportunities to all undergraduate students at Carleton.

Students and recent graduates looking for jobs also now have access to a new online search tool, myCareer, as well as career counselling, admission to career fairs and online video resources through the Career Development and Co-operative Education Office (CDCE).

The Carleton Complete program fits into new president Roseann O’Reilly Runte’s recently announced strategic plan, Defining Dreams, by promoting a culture of success on campus, Blanchard notes. “What these services provide is a comprehensive package to help students succeed. Students and parents are saying that Carleton is a caring community, where students feel important, supported and part of the university community.

“We have combined everything into one package that says, ‘We have all this for you.’ At Carleton, you don’t just get an education. You get a complete service around your academic education. We’ve been ramping up to this for years. It is a great indication of all the work and dedication that has happened over the past couple of years at Carleton and it is continuing to grow.”

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Susan Hickman

By Susan Hickman

For nearly four decades, journalist Susan Hickman has written about every imaginable subject for sundry newspapers and magazines in Canada and abroad, as well as for CBC TV and CBC Radio. She has also managed various publications, including academic newspapers and technology magazines, and was recently commissioned to write a guide for foreign missions serving in Canada. Currently, she is working on a couple of personal memoirs.

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