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Vanessa King, a fourth-year journalism student, speaks about the challenge of adjusting from high-school to university level courses, and how services available on campus help make the transition process easier.


A few years ago, I arrived on Carleton’s campus with no idea of what to expect during my first-year. As a journalism student, one of my biggest fears was not making the cut into second-year of the program. To do this, I needed to maintain a high grade in my journalism courses as well as a good CGPA overall.

The transition process from high school to university courses is a major step. I was one of the kids who didn’t really push themselves in high school. Fortunately, I still came out with great grades that let me get into Carleton. However, this lucky period of my life ended about three weeks into my university career.

I had never really gotten huge criticism of my work in high school, and as a journalism student, I obviously thought of myself as the voice of my generation before even attending Carleton. One of my political science professors at the time had us write a mock-assignment to give us a test run at researching and writing a university-level paper.

Long story short, it didn’t go so well. The professor recommended that we all attend the Writing Tutorial Service (WTS) on campus to help us identify and respond to our weaknesses. With a bruised ego, I went to a WTS session and… my academic writing improved. Drastically. So significantly that after writing my second paper for the course, my professor sent me an e-mail to say it was one of the best of the batch.

Besides me sharing a humiliating part of my past, you may be asking, “Vanessa, what’s the lesson in all of this?” Basically, I’m saying that you can’t be afraid to reach out. Carleton has tons and tons of services on campus for students to help them in their classes. They’re all confidential and they’re all FREE. That’s right – FREE (you’ll grow to love that word as a student). And the people working in these offices want you to succeed just as much as you do.

Besides the Writing Tutorial Service, the Student Academic Success Centre (SASC) on campus offers tons of services and programs for students. These include Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) for certain classes (most of them at the 1000-level) taught by an upper-year student who has actually taken the class and got a great grade in it. There is also Learning Support Services (LSS), an office that offers study skills workshops, advising, and tons more.

I know that leaving home and coming to Carleton can be a terrifying experience. However, it can also be one of the best years of your life – if you let it be. Never be afraid to ask for help or reach out to others at Carleton. This applies whether it’s about where Tory Building ends and where University Centre begins, or the direction out of the tunnels (it happens to the best of us), or how to get involved with Alternative Spring Break, or for help with your next essay. Carleton has tons of outlets to help you make the transition to university as smooth as possible – take advantage of them.

Submitted by Vanessa King, a fourth-year journalism student.


For more information on the various programs and services that Carleton offers its students, use the Ravens Resources search bar on the Current Students website.

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