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Janice Robinson, Director of Residence Life and Administration

By Janice Robinson, Director of Residence Life and Administration


At UBC, we’re big believers in the benefits of living in residence. Here are ten essential tips to get the most out of your time as a UBC student.

1. Live in residence

Residence facilities, staff, programs and services make it easy for you to:

• Meet new people.

• Feel part of UBC.

• Live in a study-oriented atmosphere.

• Find help for academic and personal challenges.

• Try new activities.

• Have tons of fun.

• Get shopping, cooking and cleaning done.

 2. Go to all your classes

You’ve paid plenty for your classes, so go – get your money’s worth.

3. Talk to your profs

Ask questions in class, after class and during office hours. Professors remember the students who talk to them and show interest in learning.

4. Consider a part-time job

But make sure you can still study and have time for friends. Limit work hours to 10-12 per week. For a short commute and to meet fellow students, consider a job on campus—there are plenty. See Centre for Student Involvement and Careers for more information.

5. Advocate for yourself

If you need something, ask for it. You can start by asking the person right next to you. If they can’t help, seek out suggestions about who can. And if you have a legitimate complaint (about, say, your living situation or a grade you received), propose a solution.

6. Think hard about living with your best friend

Living together is difficult. You’ll need your friendship during the ups and downs of your first year. Consider this instead: live near each other, bring new friends into your social circle and keep old friendships strong.

7. It’s OK to just be roommates—not fast friends

You might not become forever friends with your roommate(s), but you do need to find a way to live together respectfully. Make a contract with your roommate(s) that outlines housekeeping standards, schedules, and costs; using/borrowing each other’s things; and a policy on guests. If you live in residence, ask your Residence Advisor for the roommate contract that can help you and your roommate(s) discuss your expectations.

8. Do something

Get involved in a club, group, association, team or volunteer work. You’ll meet new friends and feel part of UBC.  You’ll also feel good knowing that you’re helping others, are part of a bigger purpose, and possibly learning professional skills. Here are a few ideas:

• Attend Clubs Days in September.

• See UBC Recreation to browse activities and intramural sports.

• Search for volunteer opportunities.

9. Use campus resources

Learning and social resources are at your fingertips, so use them. Student Services is a one-stop-shop for information.

10. Create a schedule and follow it

Now that you’re at university, you’re the one who decides how to use your time. Schedule time to study, work, socialize. Don’t forget “me time.” It’s important to find a balance between all these important elements that make up your life.

Parent and guardian rights (and wrongs)

Mother And Daughter Meeting With Male Teacher

Adapted from an article by Kate Stone Lombardi, guidance counsellor

Parents walk a delicate line when their student leaves for university. No one wants to be a helicopter parent who hovers and swoops in at the first sign of trouble. But universities increasingly fear that parental interference prevents students from becoming independent, resilient adults.

These pointers can help parents cope with a few common issues.

 1. Dealing with the ‘dumping monster’

This means students may call home and dump all their problems on their parents. If there’s a roommate issue, parents are urged to stay out of it. More than any other generation, today’s students are used to having their own room, TV, and phone. Sharing a cramped space is not something most have experience with.

“If, at the first sign of conflict, parents call the residence or university, students don’t learn about negotiating conflict,” says Mark Thompson, director of counselling and psychological services at Colgate University.

2. Ask the alcohol question

“One conversation we do want parents to have with their kids is about alcohol and drugs,” says Beverly Low, dean of first-year students at Colgate. Parents should discuss their expectations with their students, about attending classes, drinking and driving, and study time versus social time.

 3. Why the report card never comes

Before universities started communicating electronically, grades were sent to the student’s home in the mail, and parents could intercept the envelope. That’s no longer the case. Still, there are ways for parents to see how their student is doing. At UBC, students can authorize parents to access some records and information by submitting a third-party authorization.

But the quickest, easiest way to find out your student’s grades is to just ask.

4. The time to jump in

In 2002, the parents of Elizabeth Shin sued the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for $27 million. They said the university had failed to prevent their daughter’s apparent suicide by not informing the parents of her deteriorating psychological state.

The case opened the question of liability and students’ mental health. Universities have recently become more inclined to notify parents earlier when they perceive a student to be in trouble, says Gary Pavela, director of judicial programs at the University of Maryland at College Park and author of the book Questions and Answers on College Student Suicide: A Law and Policy Perspective. But parents need not wait for emergencies. If a student seems headed for danger—academic, emotional or physical—they must intervene.

“The goal for parents is finding the right balance,” Pavela says. “One extreme is hovering over them and micromanaging their life. The other extreme is assuming that a student, particularly on a large campus, is going to find a mentor or counsellor who is going to see them as whole person and understand the dynamics of their personality.”

“There is a role for parents,” Pavela adds, “not as a nuisance but with a team approach to working with a student who may be going through a crisis.”

5. Know where to find help

Parents should familiarize themselves with resources available at UBC, including:

Making friends

By Sam Horton, UBC student

Before coming to UBC I was the perpetual “new kid.” I had attended ten schools by the time I was 16 and lived all over the United States. Today, I can proudly say that I have mastered the art of friend-making. And with these tips, you can too.

1. Residence is where it’s at

Residence is the best place to make friends. Everyone is in the same boat: new to UBC and looking for people to hang with, study with, eat meals with and explore with. These folks will become your second family, so get to know them. Go to your floor and community meetings and be sure to get out to FirstWeek—that’s where a lot of people connect for the first time.

2. Open doors

Here’s an easy way to meet people when you’re in your room: just leave your door open. That signals to your floor mates that you want to get to know them. Look up and smile when people walk by. Chances are, they’ll peek into your room and give you a smile or a wave, too. And when you walk down the hall, take your floor mates’ open doors as a signal to say hi.

3. Send positive signals

If you want to make friends, look approachable. Some people don’t get this. They wear their earphones, check their phone or avoid making eye contact. Those things send a signal—whether it’s right or wrong—that they don’t want to interact. To appear approachable, sit at a large table in the library or cafeteria. Smile, make eye contact and say hi when someone sits down. And invite others to join you—it could be the beginning of a new group of friends.

4. Take it online

Facebook is one of the best ways to meet people. Search for groups for your residence, your school year or your floor. You can read about the people in the groups and then, of course, meet them in person.

5. Remember, we’re all in this together

One last thing: We’re all adults here, and you can be friends with anyone, of any age, in any year. We’re all here to learn, grow and make new friends.