Guest Column: The President’s speech
David Docherty’s guide to the student journey
Welcome, new students, and congratulations on coming to Canada’s best undergraduate university. Welcome back to returning students, faculty and staff — what a great year we anticipate at Mount Royal.
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting our new students at New Student Orientation. There was a full agenda and I had six minutes to speak, but I managed to share seven tips — think of them as Seven Habits of Highly Effective Undergraduates. While geared to first-year students, I think the tips are applicable to all students. So here is a quick recap:
1. Take the course that makes your parents cringe. If you are a business major, think about an elective in the arts. If you are an arts major, think of a stats course (yes, I am serious!) Opening your mind to alternative ways of looking at the world will serve you well after graduation. That’s why General Education courses are part of every Mount Royal baccalaureate degree and diploma, and it’s the gateway to lifelong learning.
2. Hang out with older people. Get to know your professors, who are passionate about teaching and learning and who have your success in mind. Our staff — whether in Academic Advising or our Recreation Centre — will make the difference between a good experience and a great undergraduate education. Senior students will tell you the ins and outs of your program. Make the most of sage advice.
3. Two hours out for one hour in. Going to class is a part-time job. Being an undergraduate student is a full-time profession. Spend at least an hour prepping before a one-hour class and at least an hour after class organizing your notes, your thoughts and your work plans. Two hours out for one hour in and you will not fall behind.
4. Take advantage of on campus entertainment for your mind and body. Ask your department about the guest speakers coming to the University. Go and listen and ask questions. Outside university, people gladly pay good money to hear such notable thought leaders — you can do it for free on campus. Go support your varsity student athletes. Our basketball, hockey, soccer and volleyball teams compete at the highest level of Canadian post-secondary sport, and games are free with your student card. Go to the gym. We have outstanding recreation facilities, classes and activities, and the correlation between a healthy mind and a healthy body is very strong. Join a campus club. If you can’t find one that matches your interests, then start one! Make the most of your time here.
5. You are winners … but don’t rest on your laurels. By getting into MRU you have proven your intellectual horsepower. But this is no time to rest easy. This is your break from high school — so abandon your bad habits (procrastination, coming late to class, etc.) and reinforce your good ones (strong study habits, an intellectual curiosity that keeps you thinking, etc.).
6. Feel the right kind of challenge. Universities should challenge you and some courses should present ideas that make you uncomfortable. That is a positive part of a university education. You should feel pressured by time and workload. But if you are feeling overwhelmed or feel you need to speak with someone, please remember our student services are here to help. Talk to someone in the SAMRU Peer Support Centre or in Student Counselling Services. Your mental health is hugely important to us. There is no shame in your feelings or in asking for help. You are not alone and we want to help you through the small and larger bumps in your time here.
And finally: number seven. Bring a refillable water bottle. We have bottle refilling stations throughout campus. This is the best way to save money and decrease your environmental footprint.
Let us all have a great year. If you see me in the hall (or at Starbucks or Wyckham House), come on over and say hi. I would love to hear about your experience at MRU.