Concordia University’s academic and career support centre for students
The Student Success Centre (SSC) boasts an extensive range of school and job search resources that thousands of students use every year. From first-year students to graduates, the SSC has a lot to offer our Concordia community.
Navigating all the different components can be daunting, so we sat down with Juliet O’Neill Dunphy, the interim associate director and manager of student learning services at the SSC, to talk about the centre, now that all their services are being offered virtually. This guide is organized by listing the services under the five branches of the SSC.
To book an appointment or register in a studying or drop-in session, follow the instructions through the links.
Welcome Crew Mentors are undergraduate and graduate students who have been trained to help new students transition into their academic life. The SSC seeks to represent as many faculties as possible within their mentorship crew. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dunphy said more students are using this service. “It’s become more important for students to have that instantaneous connection with somebody.”
“Because of the isolation that so many students are experiencing now, having somebody to reach out to and talk to is amazingly helpful.”
Virtual events have their upsides, with students being able to connect wherever they are, and re-watch events when they have time. Twice annually, the Student Success Centre hosts an orientation for new undergraduate and graduate students. At orientation, several academic departments, student associations, and different organizations at the university meet with prospective students to present what they offer and answer questions.
Dunphy said attendance dramatically increased with the transition to a virtual orientation, and they also noticed prospective students continued to watch the recorded presentations saved on the website after the event.
The centre also has first-year support counselling, provided by councellor Monica Boulos, to help students with issues they may encounter during their first academic year, like homesickness and anxiety with school.
Boulos also hosts interactive workshops throughout the semester, with academic and support topics, such as: “First-year Check-in: Staying focused and productive while dealing with Zoom fatigue.”
Over 50 students work at the SSC as paid study group leaders, tutors, and writing assistants. They organize peer-led academic help sessions for students from different faculties.
The Math & Science-based learning support offers study groups and one-on-one tutoring for prerequisite math, accounting, and economics courses with high enrollment, and study groups for some basic science courses. When organizing their popular math exam review sessions, the SSC works in liaison with the Department of Mathematics & Statistics “To try and make sure we’re providing sample questions that are relevant to whatever might happen in the most recent exam,” said Dunphy.
Over a thousand students attend some of these sessions, which are offered throughout the year.
For students who want to gauge their proficiency in math courses, the SSC has free math self-assessments, which feature mock exams and homework samples. This assessment is especially useful for newly-admitted CEGEP students who were exempted from completing basic math courses at Concordia, but want to make sure they are well prepared for the upper level courses.
These weekly study groups and mock exams are also available for the basic economics courses. Dunphy said the centre noticed “students who come into these sessions are much more likely to succeed.”
For science students, the SSC offers Strategic Learning sessions for some entry level classes. Dunphy said these sessions are taught by a student tutor who excelled in the entry level course. The tutor attends the class again, this time to observe how the students are understanding the material, and prepares interactive student sessions outside of class time based on what students need help understanding.
Additionally, there are 13 writing assistants who offer undergraduate and graduate students writing advice and feedback, through a drop-in session, or by booking a personal appointment. The SSC also provides free writing advice handouts, which provide general guidelines on a variety of topics, for example: “A Brief Guide to Writing a Research Paper” and “A Template For Writing An Essay.”
Students can also use the Writing Assignment Calculator to help strategize when to complete different stages of their writing assignments. By filling in when the assignment is due, the calculator provides a timeline of when to have each portion of the project completed.
“Students find this really helpful, it keeps them on track,” said Dunphy.
For specific language help, language facilitators also host conversation sessions in English and in French, to help participants learn the respective language by encouraging them to develop their spontaneous speaking skills in a group setting.
The learning services also feature academic help beyond the textbooks. Three Learning Specialists support students with academic advice and guidance on topics such as time management, preparing for exams. and dealing with exam anxiety. Students can either book an appointment, attend a drop-in session, or participate in workshops which are repeatedly hosted throughout the semester. Events include: “Read and Remember Online Readings (Without falling asleep),” “The Way of APA” and “Get Back on Track: How to refocus and finish your semester strong!”
Dunphy said these one-on-one sessions for time management have become increasingly popular for students.
“Right now with COVID, students are finding just adding structure to their day is really challenging, because every day seems kind of seamless and endless, and so we talk about how to do that, and how to build breaks, and build in key study times, so that there’s balance.”
FeatureReady originated from “a feeling that students were not really leaving Concordia with professional skills,” according to Dunphy. Here, students can complete core skill modules that can help them transition into their careers with workshops under topics such as “Career Development” and “Innovation & Entrepreneurship.”
For students looking to take on a leadership role, the SkillXchange helps students develop a workshop themselves. Working alongside a coach and mentors, students work to produce an official skill or information session for the Concordia community.
Career planning offers both career counselling and advising services for students. While career counseling focuses on helping students make decisions about their academic and career path based on their interests, career advising helps students with their job search.
Students can also attend one of the many professional workshops and job fairs available on the website. Under “Networking and Recruitment Events” students can meet recruiters and learn job skills with companies and organizations like RBC, Home Depot, and the Cree School Board.
Students can also find general professional help under “Career Development and Job Search Strategies” which feature workshops on how to write a CV and cover letter, and how to network.
Additionally, for students and alumni looking for job opportunities, the centre posts over 300 job openings each month in their online job bank, which include full and part-time positions.
If you’re a student unsure of what career you’d like to pursue with your degree, you can also visit “What can I do with my degree in…” to look at your options. If you’ve already graduated but still need guidance, alumni can have additional career help as well.
For students accused of academic misconduct or behavioural complaints, the Student Advocacy Office branch at the SSC can connect them with staff or student advocates who will work closely with a representative, and help the accused student navigate the Academic Code of Conduct.
The centre also can also help students complete academic requests, such as withdrawing from a class after the deadline with a tuition refund, exam deferral, credits transfer, tuition refund, and much more.
Graphic courtesy of the Student Success Centre