Trinity Western University works to ensure that first-year students have the most comfortable experience they can. Thus, they are now providing free writing tutors and peer support guides to help students build connections, do research and writing, and getting a taste of education through the lens of the Christian faith. Having mentors to guide them, first-year students can feel confident they have the resources they need to succeed.
Trinity Western’s first concern for fall is providing high-quality education in a Multi-Access format. Dr. Matthias is leading the way on this. She and her team make it a priority that the quality of students’ education remains exceptionally high, despite all the current challenges.
“Multi-Access education is at its heart about focusing on how we can deliver, the full, rich, Trinity Western experience in multiple ways, so that you can access it, no matter what your personal situation or choices may be – while keeping you safe,” Dr. Matthias explains.
One of the programs that Dr. Matthias runs is the new First Year Cohort. It is a special program that groups incoming students together into teams; these are of 15 people. Altogether, they experience a core few courses together, build friendships with each other, and receive mentoring support.
“Everything in this cohort bundle is to welcome you into the TWU community, to help you feel and experience all that we are – so that you know that you belong here,” says Dr. Matthias.
Each cohort has up to 15 students, “You’ll have 14 instant friends, plus a coach or a guide who’ll facilitate the group.”
The First Year Cohort is made to deliver an introduction to Christian liberal arts education, by inviting students to explore the faith and to discover how Christian faith impacts learning. Further, how it relates to all of life.
Moreover, the program delivers the intangibles of classroom experience and the sense of community that TWU is popular for. “We provide the mentoring experience that you would want, that guidance and shepherding,” says Dr. Matthias, “Our faculty are committed to doing that.”
The First Year Cohort takes three courses that every student in any major will take as part of their Trinity Western journey. This includes Foundations 101 (an introduction to Christian liberal arts education), a foundational English or Writing course, plus Introduction to Philosophy.
Each course includes either specialized peer support or a tutor who will lead discussions, help students gain a better understanding, and assist students in all ways possible. These tutors and mentors are guides who help first-year students navigate their TWU journey. This ensure students don’t face too much stress and feel confident that they have people to turn to.
“We have deliberately embedded peer tutors into this bundle,” says Dr. Matthias. “You’re going to have a guide who’s been there and done that, to guide and direct you.”
So, every First-Year Cohort group will have up to 15 students, plus three peer guides, three faculty members, and one staff leader. This amazing group experience provides community, a sense of belonging, and boosts students’ success during their first year at Trinity Western. What better way to face a challenge than to face it together, as a group?
When choosing the foundational courses that first-year students take, Dr. Matthias found that certain core themes were naturally connecting. In fact, one theme is that of identity and purpose.
“What you’re going to experience in the First Year Cohort is multiple ways of looking at that theme, through various perspectives, with different professors,” says Dr. Matthias.
“Having those conversations and learning activities will allow you to explore what your identity is. And we believe your identity is in the fact that you are made in the image of God, for a purpose.”
Since the spring semester, faculty have been busy changing courses and adapting them for Multi-Access teaching. So, faculty have been attending training sessions, gathering in groups, and proactively learning and adopting best practices in online education. This will ensure online education goes as smoothly as possible come this Fall 2020.
Dr. Matthias finds these efforts exciting, “It is so exciting to me what has been happening this summer.”
Dr. Matthias and TWU faculty are putting the needs of students first. To new students, she says, “We’ve been thinking about you. We understand how difficult this must be for you to start your university journey at this time.”
“We want to prepare you for the post-COVID world,” she affirms, “And we believe coming and experiencing the community and support here at TWU will better prepare you for whatever life is going to bring you.”
All in all, if you’re an international student attending TWU this fall, make sure you keep your eye out for free tutors and peer support guides. These folks will help make the transition into their first year at a large Canadian university that much easier. TWU provides support where they can, always to make sure students have the best experience they can while taking strides towards their dreams.
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