This week we sat down with Ann-Majella McKelvie, the President of the Trent Central Student Association, about launching Trent’s new tutoring program in the midst of a pandemic and how outsourcing the tutor hiring and on-boarding to Nimbus is helping the program get started.
What is the Trent Central Student’s Association?
We are the Student Union at Trent university that represents all the undergraduate students on the Peterborough campus.
Our biggest role is to represent our membership. We do this through advocating to our university’s administration on different campus issues, and to different levels of government.
We also work with the Canadian Federation of Students to communicate with all levels of government and to advocate for student needs and issues.
We also provide services for our members – Our biggest services are transit as well as health benefits. We work very closely with the city to be able to provide an affordable universal bus pass and we also have the privilege of being able to actually plan the routes and things like that.
We also do lots of different events, and campaigns around different things that students are really passionate about.
What is the Trent Central Students Association connection to the tutoring program?
It is a new program that we are launching this September.
With online learning and students voicing their concern of needing extra support while they’re navigating their education online, we felt that this was a really good opportunity to pick up on and provide for students. After doing a feedback survey, students shared that they would love to see tutoring more widely available on campus – with the ability to do tutoring [virtually] with the Nimbus app, that was a huge desire for us.
We also don’t have the capacity to do the hiring and vetting and all that stuff and so that was another piece that was really attractive for us as well. To have that partnership [with Nimbus], to be able to launch something and also provide capacity that we don’t have is really great.
What are your goals for the school year with the tutoring program?
Definitely the biggest goal for me right now is to get it out there and share this new app with the students. Also to really gain feedback on if this is a beneficial tool for students.
I think really sharing those benefits and not only being able to provide a tutoring service but also to be able to provide job opportunities for students was really attractive as well. We know students are struggling in terms of finances and trying to find work and stuff and so to be able to provide that with this app was attractive as well. Being able to provide both support as well as opportunities for students was definitely a big goal for me and I think the Nimbus app is really great and providing that opportunity for students.
Has your organization changed his approach to Student Services this year because of the pandemic?
Absolutely. Everything for the summer was moved all remote, all online and communication was definitely a new thing to navigate. Obviously we’ve used social media for communication and such, but in person stuff was a huge part of what we do and to not have that was very challenging, especially at the beginning. A really valuable learning curve for us was to adapt and learn what students need in order to get the information that they require to be able to be successful in the upcoming year
Definitely some big challenges but we’re learning a lot and how to provide better service for students.
What advice do you have for students as they begin school this year?
The biggest advice I always give, COVID or not, is to be open minded to new opportunities that may come your way. Being able to go to university is a privilege, and I think it’s important to take advantage of the opportunities that are there for you when you’re at school. To not just go to classes, but something like joining a club or applying for a job. Being open minded, trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone a little bit – you don’t know where that’s going to take you.
For me that definitely applied when I started at Trent. I decided to join my college cabinet; definitely a huge step out of my comfort zone. If I didn’t make that choice in first year there’s no way I’d be where I am today. So, take the opportunities that come your way and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone because you don’t know where that may take you in the future
Another piece of advice I’d like to get for folks is treat people with kindness; be nice. A lot of people are feeling a lot of like frustration and a lot of like negative feelings at this time.
Keeping up with the demand for your tutoring program can be difficult – Nimbus can help. With our help, program administrators reduce their workload by 52%, which has allowed 60% of our partners to expand current or add new student success programs. Our dedicated team can help inform you (and your student interns) on where to focus your marketing efforts, and can even provide custom materials and strategies to ensure your program success.