SAO starts students on the right track


By Heather Travis
Friday, June 18, 2010
With an admissions letter from the University of Western Ontario in hand, most incoming first-year students are not sure what steps to take to get ready for September.
First-year students concerned about where to get a student card, how to pick courses, and what support services are available can get all their questions answered at Summer Academic Orientation (SAO).
Held June 21 to July 28, SAO provides incoming University of Western Ontario students with the tools they need to make the first week of university a little easier. This year, the program has been moved to the recently renovated classroom space on the first floor of the University Community Centre.
A team of upper-year students and faculty members will help parents and newly minted Mustangs to get acquainted with their new university.
Students will select and register for courses with the help of an academic counsellor or professor, and have an opportunity to meet other first-year students.
Parents will receive information about helping their child transition to Western and the expectations of university life. Campus tours are also provided.
“The SAO program is essential in setting students up for success in September,” says Leslie Gloor Duncan, University Transitional Programs Co-ordinator at The Student Success Centre: Careers, Leadership and Experience. “It’s checking off a lot of the ‘to-do’ things they are probably wondering about, but maybe don’t have the resources otherwise. It’s to set their mind at ease.”
About 90 per cent of the first-year class – which equates to about 4,000 students, plus parents and guests – participate in SAO each year.
“We love to see the enthusiasm with the first-year students,” says Gloor Duncan.
Telephone counselling is available for students who live outside a four-hour travelling distance to Western.
“It really is a privilege to work with this group because they have their university career ahead of them and it’s fun to open their eyes to all of the programs and the opportunities that are available to them.”
Gloor Duncan credits the SAO leaders with rolling out a comprehensive program that can reach a wide number of incoming students.
“We can’t run the program without the students. They are the core of the program,” she says.
There are still appointments available for students. Register online at  or by phone at 519-661-3070, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Free parking is available for SAO participants in the Springette Parking Lot. Check campus maps for the location.
For more information on the SAO program, visit

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