In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, major changes have been made to academic regulations. Because of this, the uOttawa Regional Mentoring Centre has been helping students by answering questions regarding academic dates, exams, and handling the summer semester from a distance. We know that many students have concerns regarding the summer semester being shifted online to an online delivery. As the Regional Mentor team is now shifting their focus to providing insightful content that helps students handle their classes, tests, and assignments from home, we spoke with Jacqueline, a mentor in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to learn more about the new reality students are facing, and how the mentorship program was able to rapidly adapt.
The Role of an Online Mentor
“At the Regional Mentoring Centre, our mission is to facilitate the integration and transition of Canadian first-year students in their journey from high school to university. One of our main objectives is to keep in touch with first-year students, from our respective regions, and help them with any questions they may have, and run events where they can meet new people from their home regions. These all tie into making the best university experience for them.”
“Given the current situation, our team has continued to use Facebook and Instagram, to have these conversations with the first-years. More importantly, since no in-person event will be conducted soon, our team is using different online tools to create an online community of engaged students. Some tactics include the use of Instagram Live, Google Hangouts, Netflix Watch Parties, etc.”
Creating “Feel-good” Content
“With physical distancing in place, we know that students can feel more stressed. Losing jobs, shifting to online classes, and keeping a distance from friends can have a toll on mental wellness. To keep spirits up, our marketing strategy has included more “feel-good” content for the students. This includes wholesome memes and a lot of dog content. A lot of us overlook these memes, but they can bring a significant impact to the well-being of students. The message we want to convey is that we are “people first, students second.” We want to encourage positive mental wellness of students because we believe it translates to academic success.”
“Lastly, based on the insights provided on our social media platforms, we know that video content is the most enticing for students. To keep morale up, the Regional Mentors have created a YouTube channel with vlogs and useful information for first-year students. We plan to expand past the boundaries of being “online mentors”, and we want to successfully build an online campus community. Some ideas in the works include: how to build a workspace at home, our favourite movies on Netflix, learning how to cook at home, and more.”
“With these initiatives, we hope students will feel more engaged, entertained, and less isolated, and we want to make sure they understand we're all in this together!” shared Jacqueline.