Students share perspectives on university life
By Connie Boland
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College students Shane Hiscock (L) and Ashley Dawe talk to new applicants about what they can expect during their first year on campus. (Photo by Connie Boland)
Telephone in hand, shoulders relaxed, and grinning to beat the band, Shane Hiscock is chatting up a storm - with someone he’s never met. Twenty minutes later, the first-year Sir Wilfred Grenfell College student ends the conversation on a cheerful note, wishing the person well and promising to call again.
“That was great,” he says before dialling the next number on his list. “That student knows Grenfell College is interested in her. She knows we care and that she won’t be alone when she gets here.”
Realizing no one knows more about the ups and downs, ins and outs of university life than its students, Grenfell College several years ago initiated a unique recruiting effort designed to turn applicants into registrants. In April, current students are hired to place a series of telephone calls to all new applicants. The initial conversation welcomes the applicant to the university and opens the lines of communication for any questions they might have. The second call, placed later in the spring, focuses on registration. The third, in August, is Grenfell’s way of touching base just before the student arrives on campus.
“As far as I know, last year Memorial was the only university in Atlantic Canada contacting students in this manner,” said Shawna Peddle, student recruitment officer at Grenfell College. “This year, some other schools are doing it but with different twists. We believe having students contact students works well for us because they can relate to one another.”
Mr. Hiscock, a native of Clarenville, spoke to a student recruiter a year ago when he was still in high school. “That conversation is probably why I came to Corner Brook instead of going to St. John’s,” he explained. “I was impressed that the people here were so friendly. Speaking to a representative broke the ice because I was too intimidated to call and ask questions.”
Understanding how new applicants feel helps bridge the gap, added Ashley Dawe, a third year psychology student from Corner Brook who is also making telephone calls. “We were in their position once. Some students are excited when we call; others don’t have any questions until we start telling them more about Grenfell. That encourages them to start talking.”
Once the floodgates open there’s no telling what questions will pop up. At first it’s all about the professors and the workload, Mr. Hiscock said with a laugh. “It’s a big jump from high school to university. They want to know what to expect.” Other inquiries revolve around student life, living in residence, class size, course selection and registration, as well as Corner Brook and the western region.
Parents tend to ask about courses, programs and cost. “There’s a distinct difference between what students want to know and what parents want to know. Parents are all about the academics,” said Ms. Dawe.
Either way, the telephone call is appreciated, she noted. “After you talk to a student he or she will often say they want to meet you when they get to Grenfell. To know you’ve helped them is an excellent feeling.”