York U is one of only three universities in Canada with a College system. Haven’t heard of the concept? Well, let me give you an overview…
A college is an entity that allows you to make friends; get academic help, with services ranging from peer mentoring to workshops about what to do with your degree; and integrate into a larger community of shared interests. When admitted to York, students are usually assigned to a College based on their program and chosen residence. Nothing is completely set in stone, however; if you prefer affiliation with a College not linked to your program, you can apply for such a change (more on how later). The point is that you’ll become part of a tight-knit and welcoming community, making it super easy to have the ultimate campus experience by participating in events, working (College-oriented job positions through CLAY) or volunteering (such as with Vanier College’s Existere Journal of Arts & Literature).
Read on to see why College affiliation at York U fosters such an amazing experience. First, though, a breakdown of the traditional affiliations:
|College||Faculties/Programs Affiliated||Unique Feature(one of many)|
|Bethune||Faulty of Science, Lassonde School of Engineering||Theme: “Science and Society”|
|Calumet||Faculty of Health, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), Schulich School of Business||Theme: “Enterprising Minds”|
|Founders||Faculty of Environmental Studies, LA&PS||Theme: “Self, Culture & Society”|
|Glendon||All programs based at the Glendon campus||Bilingual campus, college, and faculty|
|McLaughlin||Criminology, Global Political Studies, Work & Labour Studies, Law & Society, Political Science, Public Policy & Administration, Social Science, Sociology||YU’s Public Policy college|
|New||School of Administrative Studies, School of Human Resource Management, School of Information Technology||New Beat Newsletter|
|Stong||Faculty of Health, LA&PS||Orange Snail Pub|
|Vanier||Variety of LA&PS programs (including undeclared majors)||Vanier College Productions|
|Winters||Communications Studies, School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design||Wibi (a capella group)|
What are the advantages of affiliating yourself with a college?
1) Meeting people in similar programs and with shared interests
As you can see from the table above, each College brings together students from a certain area of study. Bethune, for example, is affiliated with Science and Engineering students, offering them lots of opportunities to mingle, discuss matters related to their programs and further develop their mutual interests, leading to such unique student organizations as the Robot Fighting Club! Of course, just because you’re a Science major doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to immerse yourself in a different kind of atmosphere. Many students with a love for music, for example, choose to change their College affiliation to Winters, a vibrant, artistic community. Changing your College affiliation is a breeze; all it takes is filling out a simple form and submitting it to the Registrar’s Office. (Note: Students who live in residence must retain the college affiliation associated with the residence.)
2) Feeling like a big fish in a small pond versus feeling like a small fish in the big sea
I cannot stress enough how awesome it is to go from running around campus feeling like “a small fish in the big sea” to coming to your College to visit, relax and enjoy the cozy, welcoming environment. I feel this way every time I go to Glendon to take a break before or after class. One thing you’ll notice about Glendon (and the Colleges on the Keele campus) is that as you walk down the halls, you’ll see lots of posters for the College’s student government – people you may recognize as your friends or acquaintances! Being part of a College means that you have the chance to feel like “a big fish in a small pond,” giving you greater confidence to take on leadership roles, for example.
3) Taking part in College-hosted events
As a member of a College, you have the opportunity to go on trips – whether to places like Niagara Falls or Montreal, or to ski or watch a musical or basketball game – at discounted prices! Other than the price, the best part about these trips is the energy and excitement that comes with travelling with your own YU family. Each College also puts on its own events, such as New College‘s Latin Heat Dance Night, or McLaughlin‘s Game Day event.
4) Useful services offered by your College to suit your needs and guide you through university life
Each College has its own peer tutors and mentors to help you with your academic concerns. Sometimes all you need when struggling with a concept taught in class are other students who know the material and can guide you through it. Bethune offers a unique student tutoring program called SOS Peer Tutoring that you should definitely check out if you’re a Bethune member.
Most Colleges offer peer-mentoring programs that focus on course material, but they also provide an excellent way to make new friends and get comfortable at York. Browse through this website for peer-mentoring programs by College, and be sure to check out my colleague Clivane’s blog post on the many forms peer support can take for Lions.
Founders is a cool College where FES and LA&PS students hang out. Watch the video below to learn more:
5) Living in residence and having dons make you feel more at home
Each College residence has its distinct vibe. For example, the entire Calumet residence is dedicated to the Aboriginal connection at York. Explicitly chosen to recognize and honour Canada’s Aboriginal heritage, the name “Calumet” refers to a Native American peace pipe made from a type of rock called calumet in French. The College has given each of its houses animal names like Wolf, Bear, Loon, Eagle, Turtle, Fox and Crane. Each one is home to between 22 and 44 students, with 6 people to a suite.
Check out this amazing mural featuring each animal in Calumet’s common space:
Glendon has its own special atmosphere, as the bilingual campus is set on the historic Wood family estate. Glendon residences are strictly reserved for Glendon students because the campus is very small, with just under 3,000 students.
Of course, Calumet and Glendon are just two out of the nine YU Colleges that have their own styles; as a York student, you can decide what College’s residence you prefer.
As a major benefit of living in residence, dons help create that “home away from home” feeling. These senior-student staff members help guide you in your transition to university life by addressing your academic concerns and providing tips and advice on roommate conflicts and stress management.
Incoming students probably find this event the most exciting way to kick off university life at York U. O-Week (Orientation Week, also referred to as Frosh Week or Social Orientation) are multiple days (usually not a whole week, though) packed with activities organized by Frosh leaders (Glendon calls them “D-frosh,” some Keele Colleges call them “Frosh Bosses”), student leaders from each college. This annual event takes place the week before the Fall term, perfect for those who want to get know people from their college in a casual and lively atmosphere. I remember when I went to Glendon’s O-Week in September 2013: having to learn all the YU spirit cheers and participating in teamwork activities really helped everyone loosen up. I met many amazing people from all over Glendon who I still talk to today.
The first two IG photos below are throwbacks from the year I went to Frosh, and the last is from GL Frosh Week 2014. Doesn’t it look like fun?
So there you have them, all the reasons why YOU should be excited about being part of a College at YU. Questions? Let me know in the comments below!