Introducing Project Advance

Posted by Michelle Tieu on September 24, 2021

Academic Success | Student Life

Hey Lions! It’s Michelle and I am back to talk about my experience in Project Advance, York’s transition program for incoming first-year students with disabilities. I identify as a student with a disability, and when I left high school, I was nervous about the university and how my disability would affect my transition into post-secondary. If you are feeling the same way, that is okay! It is normal to feel nervous about entering the first year and thinking about finding accommodations can be an added worry. However, York is very supportive of students with disabilities and provides opportunities for support!

If you have just graduated from high school, you may have had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or other services to accommodate your disability in school. In university, IEPs aren’t used, but there are individualized accommodations for students with disabilities. Student Accessibility Services is your number one go-to for supports and services for your disability. You can obtain a Letter of Accommodation (similar to an IEP), which details the different accommodations the university can provide you. Incoming students with disabilities can register online with Student Accessibility Services. If you are a student with a disability but don’t think that you need any accommodations for school, getting registered is beneficial if your situation changes and you want accommodations. Registration with Student Accessibility Services will not be identified on your school records, transcripts and graduation documentation.

Incoming students who are registered (or in the process of registration) can sign up for Project Advance, which starts on August 3, 2021. I signed up for the Project Advance program last year when I was entering university. I came straight from high school into university, which was a difficult transition. All of a sudden, I had to think about finances, housing, course enrolment, and a totally new environment. There was a lot of information on the York website, which was overwhelming for me. On top of that, I had to think about my disability accommodations and how I would get them. However, going through the registration process and meeting my Accessibility Counsellor eased a lot of my worries. I got my Letter of Accommodation and she encouraged me to sign up for Project Advance, which would help me learn new skills, meet other incoming students and learn all about the different services at York!

What is Project Advance?

Project Advance is York’s transition program for incoming students with disabilities, that teaches you skills to adapt to university life. Project Advance is structured like a mini university course, to teach you how to navigate eClass and Zoom with confidence! York’s eClass may be an unfamiliar platform for incoming students, so hosting Project Advance on eClass helps you learn how to use the platform, which gives you a head start. There is a syllabus for Project Advance, and weekly lectures and tutorials, which familiarize you with the new format of university teaching.

My Experience with Project Advance

When I attended Project Advance, I attended weekly lectures and a separate tutorial with one of the TAs. Project Advance was formatted as a remote class on eClass, with lectures and tutorials taught on Zoom. Everything I needed to know was on the syllabus, which gave details on the type of content we would learn, as well as which instructor would teach us. My Project Advance class was small, which allowed us to have more one-on-one time with the instructors in case we needed to ask questions or get individual help. Every week, we had a weekly assignment, which involved writing a journal entry and uploading it to eClass. This helped familiarize me with the upload process on eClass.

What did I learn?

With Project Advance, I learned new skills like self-advocacy, which is very important as a student with a disability. Project Advance encourages self-advocacy and independence, helping you to navigate through university without the help of parents/guardians. It also teaches you how to talk to professors about accommodations, with a helpful lecture on email etiquette and disclosing your disability to your professor. We also had a class on the different student services at York that could help us with different aspects of our lives (such as academics, spiritual health, physical health and emotional health). This was incredibly helpful because it gave me the confidence to understand what services are helpful for me. The structure of self-directed and hands-on learning also taught me to be more independent.

Should you join Project Advance?

I would recommend all incoming students, especially high school students, who identify themselves as students with disabilities, to participate in Project Advance!  I was so worried about what university would be like, before entering my first year, but Project Advance showed me that I had nothing to be worried about. It is a huge transition from high school to university but learning to be independent and taking charge of your own academic journey is so important for your success. Project Advance teaches you the skills to be independent and helped me find a community of people who were experiencing the same kind of transition that I was, so I felt less alone. A bonus about Project Advance is that if you attend 80% of the course, you get a certificate of completion, which you can add to your co-curricular record!

To stay up to date on campus life and events, connect with York on social media. You can follow us on Facebook @YorkUStudents, Twitter @YorkUStudents, Instagram @studentlifeyu and with our weekly This Week @ York emails.

Michelle Tieu
Michelle Tieu

Michelle Tieu is a first-year Design major at York University that provides the illustrations and graphics for the YUBlog. She loves longboarding, crocheting and listening to pop music. Michelle hopes her work at the YUBlog will help current and future students of York learn more about York and the great student culture!

See other posts by Michelle Tieu