A lot is new at UTM this year: new buildings, new bus shelter, new pathway, and new students—and for those new students, a new first-year transition program. UTM First Year Experience, or utmFYE, is based on research that indicates that students who are more involved in their school are more likely to succeed in their post-secondary careers. The pilot program, which puts first-years into small groups led by successful upper-year students (the “campus experience leaders”), also incorporates seminars on university life, such as midterm season, mental health, and academic services, and provides opportunities to engage with the UTM community.

The utmFYE program replaces rezONE. It’s what CEL Laura McCallum calls a “more holistic approach”. Unlike previous programs, which stress academic success, utmFYE also includes seminars on professional communication and financial awareness and organizes events with faculty and community outings. It’s all to help students “take the skills learned [in the classroom and seminars] and physically apply them,” says McCallum.

The campus experience leaders are another unique aspect of the program. Unlike many previous programs, utmFYE was designed over the summer by upper-year students who worked on campus.

“Over the summer, students worked to develop a curriculum that was relevant to incoming students, based in higher education research, informed by previous assessments of the program and in consultation with many of the services available to students on campus,” says Jessica Silver, the Department of Student Life’s student development officer for orientation and transition.

“The program contains information that the senior students felt was pertinent for new students to know,” adds CEL Abisola Olaniyi.

The program will run the entire academic year. It will include the previously mentioned seminars and incorporate campus engagement events every other week—for example, going to the Get Experience Fair and other cultural and athletic events. This is done “in the hopes that in their second, third, and fourth years, [students] will freely join clubs, groups, and societies because they’ve seen the benefit of getting involved”, says McCallum.

First-year students can get involved by registering online at both utm.utoronto.ca/student-life/orientation-transition/FYE and on ROSI. Registration closes on September 21.