In Winter 2012, in an effort to support our students on academic probation, learning circles were created. Students could opt-in to the programming and began to learn more about themselves and met other students who were facing similar academic, personal and transition challenges. Throughout the six week program, we explored creative problem solving, time and task management, focusing on your strengths, tips and tricks for studying, career aspiration, being and using your network and what it meant to pursue your passion. As the semester has come to a close, it was important that each student reflect on what they learned, experience and how they grew during their second semester. Below is a letter from a student sharing their Learning Circle Experience.
After coming back from Christmas break and the fall semester of 2011, I learned that I was on probation for having not reached the required 2.0 grade point average. This learning circle is in some ways like the "get clear" program for all Ryerson students but this program is specific to students in residence. My first meeting involved us "unpacking" what went wrong in first semester so I could figure out how to do it right in second semester and reach or exceed the required GPA.
Through this hour long meeting I learned that being able to do well as a first year student doesn't just mean studying like crazy and never having any fun, it was almost the opposite. Having moved to Toronto, right from high school and being away from my parents for the first time made first semester difficult. I had never lived away from my family before and they are a big part of my life. I was also having some difficulty finding some good friends. The program I am in is very demanding and so I always wanted to make sure I had time to complete my work; so I stayed in a lot. I'm not a big partier either, so trying to find friends who were in the same boat as I was wasn't so great. These were some of the things we discussed during the meeting.
In this meeting we also discussed what I felt I did really well versus what I know I could have done better at and improved upon. I also mention what made me excel and what prevented me from doing my best. We came up with a spread sheet where I could insert all of my grades for each mark I received to know the exact marks I was getting so I would know when I needed to step it up or when I was doing just fine.
Because I was having some difficulty making friends I was directed to the Ryerson Student Union's student groups. These groups range from ethnicity, to religious groups, international relations, program related groups, and more. These groups gave me something to do besides school, allowing me to step away from my work. which actually helped me to improve! I ended up making some great friendships that I hope to continue on to next school year.
Through meeting on a weekly basis to keep my on track the learning circles helped me to get back on track, feel better about being in a new place and make some long lasting friendships!