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New student life web site broadens students' universe

What are you doing after class?

This week’s launch of ULife (www.ulife.utoronto.ca) is a major step forward in assisting students to craft their own experience at the University of Toronto. The sophisticated one-stop website lists a large and diverse collection of student clubs, organizations and activities available on all three campuses.

For years, students said they often discovered interesting activities or research opportunities too late in their university careers to take advantage of them. Last spring, Susan Addario, director of student affairs, and Robert Steiner, assistant vice-president (strategic communications), discussed the best way to connect all students to the many social, extracurricular and learning opportunities that are available.

ULife, with  more than 1,000 entries and counting, will certainly go a long way to improving students’ awareness of what is available by listing activities that include co-op programs; film appreciation clubs; debating societies; sports teams, environmental action; legal, political and social activism; local outreach charitable projects, drop-in classes; research opportunities; career development; and both paid and unpaid work opportunities.

Addario recalls numerous conversations with third- and fourth-year students who didn’t know that most of these clubs and groups even existed. She said while there have always been many ways for students to get involved, “we know that it’s been difficult for them to find their way.”

Students using ULife will notice the photos and profiles of their peers already involved in many of these activities, making it easy for them to relate. The website has also revolutionized how a student can browse; either type in “sports” and see what pops up or focus on a specific activity such as soccer, then refine the search by asking on which campuses soccer is being played.  ULife is not only easy and accessible, it’s hoped that it will inspire students to start their own groups.

“The response so far has been striking,” said Steiner, noting that 69 per cent of the approximately 500 students who tested the site reported they would recommend it to others while 79 per cent believed it would make a definite difference to a first-year student. More than 94 per cent reported how easy it was to find what they were looking for.

 ULife will help students “find their home while at school here,” Steiner said. “We want them to know that while the academic opportunities to study at U of T are excellent, the university also takes the after-hours student experience just as seriously.” 

The website team, including Cristina Coraggio, Elizabeth Monier-Williams, Jennifer McAfee, Susan Fischer, Laura Rosen Cohen, Sarah Keogh, Pascal Paquette and Audrey Fong of strategic communications along with Jim Delaney, Deanne Fisher and Cheryl Ziegler of student affairs, had their work cut out for them considering the sheer number of out-of-classroom activities available to U of T’s more than 70,000 part- and full-time students. “What they required was a hassle-free, one-stop reliable resource that would help them personalize their university experience,” Steiner said. 

 Added Coraggio, “Students who may not initially know what is available to them will soon realize all that U of T has to offer through ULife. There’s so much to choose from that choosing is its own activity.”  

Visit ULife at  www.ulife.utoronto.ca.

• Access more than 1,000 activity listings broken into 11 categories and 74 subcategories

• Categories include hobbies and leisure activities, international opportunities and undergraduate research opportunities

• Read student and activity profiles and discover new things to do at U of T

• ULife incorporates activities on all three campuses and at the affiliated colleges

• 94 per cent of students surveyed found ULife easy to navigate and well-organized

• 78 per cent thought using ULife would have helped them get more involved in their first year  at U of T

• 69 per cent of students questioned stated that they would refer this website to someone they  know







 

 

 




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