Tips for Finding Out Post-Secondary...

Tips for Finding Out Post-Secondary School Student Services

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By Jacob Aron Leung

For many new students, going to post-secondary can be overwhelming. A whole new school means lots of opportunities to meet people and learn new things. One other thing that new students benefit from is the number of services that many schools offer.

However, without looking, many students may not know what their schools provide. Whether you’re a new student stepping on campus for the first time, or a seasoned student looking to explore their school more, here are some tips for getting the most out of your school services.

Financial Services

Post-secondary institutions have financial services to help students pay for the multitude of expenses that life brings during schooling. These offerings include:

  • Help for sudden financial emergencies, such as changes in living situations, food security, and other unforeseen circumstances
  • Bursaries — monetary rewards granted to students displaying a financial need.
  • Scholarships — monetary rewards granted to students, usually for displaying community or academic accomplishments. Some scholarships are based on financial need, but not all of them.

Be sure to check the requirements for bursaries and scholarships because they all require different criteria. Bursaries usually require applications because of the financial record aspect, and they may apply to a certain demographic within their institution. While many scholarships do require proof of eligibility, they may not require an application depending on the circumstances. For example, the University of Victoria lists in-course scholarships and awards that do not require manual applications. The government of Ontario has a list of financial aid offices across their province’s public colleges and universities here.

Counselling and Health Services

Counselling and health services exist on campuses to help students navigate their physical and mental health. According to a 2022 study by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, one in two students had accessed their post-secondary institution’s mental health services. However, only 28 per cent of the 2,000 surveyed students were “aware of how to access [on-campus support] services.” A large factor limiting access was not only the long wait times but also the unawareness of the services offered. While on-campus counselling services suffer from long wait times, these services are free for all students and counselling offices often provide brochures outlining students’ options.

Health services on campuses tackle many areas a general practitioner can, as well as offer referrals for more specific needs. Health services on post-secondary campuses are still equipped with professionals ready to help students. Additionally, some campuses may have separate designated sexual health clinics. Many institutions’ student unions offer a student health plan to help offset any health-related costs while studying.

Student Union Services

Post-secondary schools often have a corresponding student union, a group representing and supporting a college’s students. Students enrolled in institutions also automatically qualify as members of their student union. Though student unions operate separately from the schools, there is often overlap where they collaborate through services.

Student unions often offer a variety of supports and services for student life including:

  • A dedicated ombudsperson service, that deals with complaints students may have about their student union or college. At some institutions, such as the University of British Columbia, the student union ombudsperson is separate from the school’s ombudsperson.
  • Legal and tax assistance services. Many student unions offer tax clinics or someone to help students navigate tax inquiries. Some student unions offer a legal representative for students to consult with for issues such as rent, employment, immigration, and many other problems they may encounter.
  • Peer support groups. Separate from a school’s counselling services, students find support through discussing with other students. While these services do not guarantee professional help, the more casual environment can ease students into the idea of opening up and not feeling alone. They can be a good alternative while waiting for counselling help.

There are many more services available in Canadian post-secondary institutions not outlined in this article — when in doubt, students can consult various sources like their student engagement office or institution’s website. Every institution is different, but they all have services in place to serve their students. Schools have services in place to help students earn their academic credentials while ensuring they are supported in other aspects of life.

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