Come September, Queen’s University will be welcoming its Class of 2025.
In a recent CBC News questionnaire distributed to educators across Canada, which returned over 9,000 responses, 70% of respondents agreed that some incoming postsecondary students will find themselves academically behind this fall.
“The transition to post-secondary education is an exciting time for incoming undergraduate students, but many may be feeling a bit uncertain about their academic preparedness after a primarily remote senior year,” Corinna Fitzgerald, assistant dean student life and learning at Queen’s, wrote in a statement to YGK News.
In interviews with YGK News, three incoming first-year students shared their thoughts on entering postsecondary education after a year of remote learning.
Emelia Patterson, ArtSci ‘25, graduated high school in Toronto, Ontario and plans to major in political studies at Queen’s.
Patterson said her main issue with remote learning has been maintaining focus and that her sense of academic preparedness “definitely could be better.”
“My school isn’t doing any exams this year and we haven’t had as many tests,” she said. “I do feel like I’ve kind of lost the ability to study hard and memorize information as much as I could.”
Patterson added that she hopes the University will be understanding of the toll remote learning has taken on graduating high school students.
“I know that [Queen’s has] peer tutoring and mentoring [programs],” Patterson said. “I’d love for them to expand that a little bit and make sure that everyone who wants a peer tutor or mentor can have that, just making sure that everyone who wants access to Queen’s resources can get access and soon.”
Sami Kerr, ArtSci ‘25, graduated high school in Pickering, Ontario and plans to major in global development studies at Queen’s.
“I’m nervous about the fall,” Kerr said. “I’m nervous that it’s gonna be such an overload and overwhelming.”
Kerr said remote learning has made it difficult to find motivation and comprehend information, and she believes “having some kind of support outside of [class]” would be helpful in easing her academic transition to postsecondary education.
“Having tutors that could be available for free … even by upper-years, could be supportive,” Kerr said.
Socialization may be difficult as well, she added. “[Students] really don’t know how to interact with new people because [they] haven’t been around new people in a long time.”
Gillian Armstrong, ArtSci ‘25, graduated high school in Ajax, Ontario and plans to major in psychology at Queen’s.
“A lot of the curriculum had to be sliced in half,” Armstrong said of her final year in high school. “My structure was quite disorganized … they had to pick and choose the most important points of the curriculum.”
Armstrong said the end of grade 12 is meant for students to learn “how to switch from high school to a much bigger, newer environment,” and she feels like she “missed out on the experience” due to remote learning.
“I definitely think if there were extra lessons or seminars or if the professor had an open hour for questions, I would be able to absorb more information,” Armstrong said. “That really helped in high school.”
While Armstrong said the support she seeks from Queen’s is “mostly academic,” she also emphasized the importance of mental health services and student life resources for incoming students who are “anxious that [they] might not be able to catch up to the pace fast enough or … absorb all the information fast enough.”
In the statement, Fitzgerald recommended the Summer Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) in July, “featuring modules and online events that help prepare students for new academic expectations, address questions or concerns about university life, and introduce resources and support services.”
“Incoming students will also have access to skill-building appointments and workshops through Student Academic Success Services (SASS), as well as a free online mini-course that introduces them to university-level expectations around time management, managing readings, note-taking, and writing essays and labs,” Fitzgerald wrote.
“There are also some faculty-specific academic orientation activities available in August … First-year students can also be matched with an upper-year peer mentor, and attend a number of orientation events that welcome them to campus and the community.”
Fitzgerald added that the University is working to provide “academic and other transition supports” to second-year students who experienced their first year at Queen’s remotely.