Student Transition Issues

Two students in a classroom looking at a computer

Parents and guardians have a vested interest in their student's progress and experience at university, especially during their first year. U of T Scarborough has a number of resources available for students - the key is informing students about these resources and ensuring that they are being used. Together, we can help students take advantage of everything the campus has to offer, and ensure their academic and personal success.

Every student is unique, and at a different stage in their student development. There are, however, common issues that students can experience when they begin university. The most common transition issues that students face are listed below. 

New Environment

The new learning environment may have students fluctuating between feelings of excitement and apprehension. Students will be enthusiastic about the opportunity to meet new people and try new things, while being challenged to orient themselves to the campus, adjust to their courses and the increase in academic work. Being away from family, friends and their home can also be very difficult for some students. Anxiety about meeting new friends and fitting in should also be expected.

Larger Class Sizes

One of the many advantages of U of T Scarborough is the smaller-than-normal class sizes. Class sizes range from 30 students in a lab to 500 students in a lecture hall. Students will have to adjust to listening to lectures in a larger setting and taking notes in a potentially new manner.

Academic Expectations

Adjusting to academic life at university presents challenges for students as the amount of reading and independent work significantly increases. Students must exhibit a great deal of initiative and self-discipline as work is no longer supervised by a teacher on a regular basis. Support and assistance is available from professors, teaching assistants and the Academic Advising & Career Centre.

Changes in Support Systems

The support network for each student will change. While some students may stay close to family, friends and services they have traditionally used, others may make new choices about whom they remain in contact with. There are a number of services and opportunities available for students to help them establish a new support network. Students should be encouraged to develop connections with classmates and get to know their professors and teaching assistants. They can also meet with academic advisors, personal counsellors or other professionals on campus if required.

Increased Freedom and Flexibility

A typical daily schedule at university differs much from high school. Studies are self-directed, meaning students are not assigned work on a daily/weekly basis and need to keep up with homework and readings on their own. This can be challenging for students, especially those who are used to the structure and accountability of the high school system. However, a variety of tools are available to help students adapt to the new academic environment, such as workshops and seminars organized by the Centre for Teaching & Learning and the Academic Advising & Career Centre.

New Independence, Ideas and Ways of Thinking

Students will be exposed to a variety of different cultures, religions, beliefs and schools of thought once they reach university. As a result, students may start to question their own upbringing, adopt new beliefs or struggle with their key values and identity. It is important that students are given the freedom and the opportunity to explore, and parents and guardians should recognize that while significant changes may occur, students are likely to maintain the core values that they were taught.

For more information about supporting your student's transition to university, please click here

For additional information, please see the tri-campus family website. You can also download a copy of the tri-campus parents and supporter guide.