Introduction

The Back Door to U of T – The Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program

The Back Door to U of T – The Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program

I was sitting in a hallway the other day waiting for my prof’s office hours to begin when another person sat down beside me. We got to talking and when I told her that my college was Woodsworth she immediately brightened and told me that she was also a Woodsworthian. My next question was one word “bridging?”  She smiled and said “yes, you too?” We immediately started talking about our experience, her about her first year and me about my third year.

If you’re asking yourself what is “bridging”? I’m  refering to the Academic Bridging Program or ABP for short. This is an alternate entry program offered by Woodsworth College. It’s the back door to U of T for people (19 years of age and older) who want to attend U of T but, have either been out of high school for “some time”, never finished high school, or attended college, but still do not have the prerequisites to gain entry to U of T.

I signed up for bridging in 2009 and started the Program in 2010. It was intense. I graduated high school in 1996 (see fig. A), do the math and you’ll understand just how hard it was for me to learn how to be a student again. In those five months of ABP, I read four novels, one text book, one course reader, wrote two in class exams, two minor essays, and a major research paper. All of this culminated in a three hour final on which my future hinged. A cumulative mark of 73% or higher was required to advance the following year into full time studies at the University. On top of course work, every Saturday morning I attended three hour academic skills learning sessions. It’s safe to say that I spent more time at the writing centre than at home in those five months.

Fig. A - This is what was happening in the world when I graduated high school in 1996: This cell phone was cutting edge, Braveheart had just been released, Nintendo 64 was new and the graphics were unreal, Dolly the cloned sheep was getting lots of air time, and Diana and Charles were still legally married.

When I started my first year at U of T I was prepared. I knew where most of the University facilities where, I had already had that great research skills session at Robarts, I already knew where all the parking garages were, where the exam center was. Most importantly I knew how to write an essay, a book review, and a final exam in the humanities. Unlike a lot of my fellow classmates I wasn’t nervous about my academic skills; I was confident in my ability to succeed at U of T.

At first, I thought that my age would put me at a disadvantage to the rest of the student body, but it’s quite the opposite. I have thirty four years of life experience to draw upon. I use that experience in everything I do at school. For example in my Child and Adolescent Psych. class last year, I was the only student in the room who had kids of their own and it paid off big time in tutorial discussions. I embrace my age and I also embrace my student experience. My experience in Academic Bridging permeates all of my learning because I was taught how to learn again…and they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

Bridging students make a conscientious choice to return to school and have worked very hard to become full time students. We are motivated, prepared, involved, excited to learn, and very proud of ourselves!

– Lori

 

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