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Applying to postsecondary during a pandemic

23-03-21 Lakehead-Georgian 0 comment

Avery sits in the Advanced Technology Centre in an orange chair, working on her laptop. The sun is shining through the windows.So, you’re applying to the Lakehead-Georgian Partnership in the middle of a pandemic. Starting postsecondary education can be stressful enough. All new students wonder what to expect from an exciting, yet unfamiliar experience. Add all the unknowns of setting off on an adventure in unprecedented times and you may justifiably have questions.

If you’re wondering what’s changed about the student experience and what remains the same, we have some answers for you.

The admissions process

The pandemic has created a number of changes for universities and colleges across the country, but thankfully some things remain the same.

“The application process hasn’t changed,” says Nick Chamut, Associate Registrar, Undergraduate Admissions for Lakehead University.

While the January 15 deadline for high school applicants and March 1 deadline for mature student and college and university transfer student applicants have passed, the Lakehead-Georgian Partnership is still accepting applications. “We’re entering the first round of offers now,” Nick says, “but there’s still lots of time to be considered for fall 2021.”

“My advice is to apply!”

Connect with us, virtually!

The pandemic may not have changed the application process for postsecondary education, but efforts to connect with prospective students have had to pivot online, says Christine Di Rosa, Marketing and Recruitment Officer for Lakehead-Georgian.

If you’re a prospective student with questions, the best way to connect with a recruitment officer is to make a phone appointment through our online booking system, Christine says. “It’s a great way for us to provide you with one-on-one support.”

You can also take a virtual tour of the Barrie and Orillia campuses directly from our website, never having to leave the comfort of your own home. “These tours will give you a feel for our campuses when you can’t be there in person,” Christine says.

The Lakehead-Georgian Partnership is also looking at offering more opportunities to connect online into the spring and summer, including an Applicant Reception on May 5. “Live virtual events make it easier for students who live a long distance away, as well as making it simpler for students with accessibility issues,” Christine says.

For up-to-date information on programs and events, keep an eye on our Facebook or Instagram and don’t forget to check out the Lakehead-Georgian channel on YouTube.

The learning experience

Jessica Maher, a third-year student in the Applied Life Sciences program, was a Lakehead-Georgian student prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. She says while the process of learning has changed, the quality of the education is the same.

“There are definitely some pros and cons to education online,” she says. “I kind of enjoy online lectures because I am at home and comfortable.”

It’s labs that provide more of a challenge, she explains. “Virtual learning has definitely posed challenges for hands-on learning, especially not being able to participate in a traditional lab environment.”

Despite those challenges, Jessica is impressed with the way that Lakehead-Georgian instructors have adapted their approach to come up with ways to keep students engaged and learning. “Some teachers film themselves and others create online simulations.” Instructors are making the best of the pandemic and are constantly designing new and better ways for students to learn, she says.

The smaller class sizes offered by the Lakehead-Georgian Partnership have translated well to online discussions. Thanks to Zoom, study groups and class discussions can be accomplished in a collaborative environment, either with everyone onscreen or in breakout rooms.

Campus life

Like most people, Jessica is feeling the lack of interpersonal relationships with her peers, but is making the best of it. “It’s hard for sure, but there are trade-offs as well.”

In one of those unexpected trade-offs, Jessica was able to join the Compass North Group, a student-led outreach health clinic comprised of science, nursing and medical students who service Thunder Bay, Ontario. “This wouldn’t have happened if not for the pandemic,” she says. “We’ve had a lot of good experiences, like doing presentations to organizations like the John Howard Society, for example.”

Compass North is an interprofessional group doing work on issues like mental health, keeping kids active, research projects on social isolation and podcasts around living well.

Athletics has been challenging for obvious reasons. “I used to play varsity badminton, but they’ve had to cancel for this year.”

With gyms closed and no team practices, Jessica has had to manage her own physical fitness. “I try to get a good workout in every day.” Keeping her body healthy also involves getting in as much running and walking as she can manage.

Mental health is as important as physical health, so Jessica does her best to create harmony in her world. “Being at home with my family has been great. We catch-up on our day together and often play board games to give us some entertainment and break up the day. I think balance is important, so I’m not thinking about school all the time.”

Throughout the pandemic, student clubs and associations, as well as Athletic departments at Lakehead-Georgian have been making the most of online engagement opportunities. From livestream and on-demand access to fitness classes, to virtual speaker series, and even virtual events (can you say Tik Tok dance classes and virtual escape rooms!), Lakehead-Georgian is working to keep friends, classmates, and peers engaged during these unprecedented times.