Lethbridge College and University of Lethbridge campuses are quiet now, but in less than a week students will fill the hallways and classrooms as they start a new semester.
“We’re excited to welcome students back to campus,” said Kathleen Massey, associate vice-principal students at the University of Lethbridge. “We’re glad that we’re in a position this year to offer a robust in-person experience this fall and students can come back and enjoy meeting each other for the first time even though they’ve been students at the University of Lethbridge. for a couple of years now.”
Both institutions are preparing for a return to in-class learning with little to no COVID-19 measures as they follow Alberta Health Services’ lead.
“We’ve taken a lot of other measures for example, masks are available on campus, there continues to be hand sanitizer stations,” Massey explained. “Early in the pandemic, improvements were made to ventilation and air flow in the buildings.”
Massey said it’s still too early for finalized enroll numbers for the semester, but international student numbers look positive.
“We have seen growth in graduate student numbers and international student numbers and this is very promising, these are two areas where the university has placed a lot of priority in terms of its enrollment over the last couple of years,” Massey said.
Across the river valley, the college also continues to rebuild post pandemic. However, Registrar Marko Hilgersom said domestic enroll numbers are lower than expected.
“It is always disappointing, I want us to have bursting at the seams, that’s how I like to see it, I want every class full, but that’s not going to happen, but its going to be a great student experience for those that are here,” he said.
Hilgersom said it’s not just the return to the classroom that faculty are excited about.
“We are hoping to have on campus activities that we didn’t really have full on campus activities last year, we had pockets of it, but this one is kind of the return to a more of a normal post-secondary experience,” Hilgersom. added.
EARLY START EXPERIENCE SEES RECORD NUMBERS
The University of Lethbridge’s early start experience class hit a record high number of students in preparation for the upcoming fall semester.
This year, 58 students took part of the two-week program, helping prepare them for the semester.
The early start experience program, which has been running for the past 10 years, gives new students the opportunity to explore the U of L, meet with faculty and staff members throughout the campus and academic introduction. Students tour campus, take workshops on study skills, use the library for research, write essays and participate in fun group activities.
This year’s program also included second-year students who haven’t had the chance to study in person at the U of L.
Shelly Wismath, Dean of the School of Liberal Education at the U of L, said the course helps reduce the stress and anxiety levels on the first day.
“There’s an academic component, being a good student component, and then there is kind of an activity component, we don’t expect them to sit in their seats in the classroom all day, so we send them out on all kinds of activities, ” Wismath said.
For first-year Josh McNeil the course allowed him to tour around the university ahead of the first day.
“But in general, just the tours and kind of stuff, being able to know your space and know where you can be welcome and know where you can go is critical,” McNeil said.
Students who took part in the early start experience program were able to receive three-credits towards their education.
Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge will host new student orientation on Tuesday, with students returning to the classroom on Wednesday.