First-year students entering the University of Guelph’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) can turn to “The Quad” for pre-university resources to help them ease into their first semester.

“The Quad” is a new online platform available only to students entering programs in engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, and mathematics and statistics that offers an academic hub as well as virtual connections.

With COVID-19 physical distancing measures remaining in place on campus and students ending their high school year virtually, CEPS aims to make the transition to university a smooth one for incoming students. The Quad will support students through a combination of academic preparedness and community-building resources.

“We’re trying to let students know that we recognize this situation is different from anything any of us have ever experienced, and we understand they may be anxious and have many additional questions compared to a typical year,” said Prof. Karen Gordon, CEPS associate dean, academic. “We are trying to bring them together and build a community to help them feel more welcome and involved.”

Beginning in mid-July, students will be enrolled in the voluntary platform, which will offer online academic preparedness activities involving CEPS faculty members. Throughout the summer, incoming students will have the option to attend live and archived sessions on a variety of subjects in four areas: academic review modules, communities in the college, student citizenship and general U of G resources.

The platform will also enable incoming students to connect with other first-year students in their program and with upper-year student mentors, and to get involved in CEPS student clubs. Through discussion boards, forums and chats for students and moderators, The Quad site will help students meet online, fostering engagement and community-building. A mentorship program is also being developed involving student governments, clubs and organizations in the college.

Because the incoming cohort will lack U of G’s conventional residence experience and orientation week, The Quad offers an innovative way to foster interactions among students, said Prof. Bill Van Heyst, CEPS associate dean, external relations.

“It’s going to be different — we know that. But it could help replace some of the components that will be missing because of the pandemic.”

Leah Davis, a third-year biomedical engineering co-op student and a coordinator of The Quad, said the platform brings together a variety of campus resources to help first-year students.

“Students can take the resources that they need from The Quad. Increasing the level of engagement of the incoming students within the college is a big goal of the platform, especially in this time of uncertainty.”

To learn more about what the U of G student experience will look like this fall, visit the Virtual Campus page.


Prof. Karen Gordon