UBC revamps programming to better transition arts students into university

This year, the Coordinated Arts Program (CAP) has been revamped to better connect students from its different streams and prepare them for university transition.

Launched in 2005/06, CAP is a first year program that aims to “ease students’ transition to university” by offering a multidisciplinary approach to the study of arts. The curriculum therefore includes a broad range of classes from the humanities, social sciences, as well as creative and performing arts.

Previous ran on a structure of weekly tutoring sessions, the structure now has weekly alternation between peer-mentor-led tutoring sessions that are specific to the individual stream and guest speaker sessions that bring all CAP students together.

According to Olivia Jenkinson, coordinator of CAP’s peer-mentor ‘Stream Team’ program, this restructure would give all CAP students the opportunities to network with each other and allow them to tackle first-year issues — like transitioning to university and accessing campus resources — as a group.

She also noted that the demand for the second aspect already existed prior to the change, but there wasn’t a coordinated method to share the information.

“In the last year that I was involved in it, we saw that all the peer mentors were seeing a desire for this information from their students, and they were all trying to tackle it individually,” Jenkinson said.

“So what we’re trying to do is pull together, really leverage our resources by bringing in guest speakers so we can speak more ... about each topic with an expert voice rather than trying to tackle it all individually and just do it on an ad-hoc basis.”

So far, CAP students have had lectures from arts learning strategists from the Chapman Learning Commons, faculty members and first year program chairs. The topics discussed include study and research techniques, mental wellness, time management skills and ways to use failure as a launchpad for learning and success.

Speakers from UBC Recreation are also set to join the roster in the upcoming weeks and talk about physical wellness.

On the alternate weeks, the Stream Team’s peer mentors come in to further assist and guide students — a portion of CAP that Jenkinson called a “key component of the program.”

“For a student I think it’s easier, sometimes, to approach another student who’s been in your shoes to ask a question that you might feel a little bit intimidated to ask a staff or faculty member,” she explained. “And also the mentors are able to kind of share their experience which the students can learn from the mentors’ experience as well.”

The intended result is therefore an increase of accessibility for students seeking advice and assistance.

“So getting to see the structure of what works best for the students is something we’re constantly trying to do and it’s just so entertaining for me to see how things work and develop,” Jenkinson said.