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Dec 21, 2016 07:55 AM EST

Western University Graduates Encourage First-Year Students Using Letters

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In an effort to help first-year students cope with the stress and pressure they feel brought about by the exams, the Western University department of alumni relations came with a plan - asking graduates and alumni to write short letters of encouragement.

The university's pilot project, Kind Mail, was born from the idea that giving students a little help can lift up their spirits during the dreaded period, reports AM980. "Alumni really do see that it is a stressful time of year for students," Digital Engagement Officer Meghan Cocurullo said. "A small act of kindness was the whole idea behind the kind mail project."

For a start, the alumni relations department only expected a few letters to arrive, but were surprised to receive a huge number or responses from participating graduates. "We had an anticipated goal of 200 pieces of mail and we surpassed that within our first day of the four day campaign," Cocurullo added.

In fact, the campaign became so successful that it actually reached 1,400 letters in just three days, far surpassing the alumni department's expectations. These letters were given to the old residences where the graduates used to live as a student, or were distributed to campus students.

Graduates did not need to spend a lot of time on creating a fancy letter. One of them, Lauren Shepherd, a 2014 graduate of Media, Information and Technoculture and English Literature, only took as little time as five minutes to send a student a heartfelt encouragement, one that she would've wanted to receive when was a freshman.

"You have already accomplished a great thing!" she wrote, The Globe and Mail reported. "Keep working hard and enjoy your holiday break."

Students in the university normally spend almost the whole day studying, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. inside classrooms and from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. inside labs. First-year engineering student Mitch Cotic is one such student.

"Handling the stress of trying to excel ... it's hard," Cotic said. "It's a challenge not only I face."

With that kind of pressure, even just a little encouragement from former students-turned-graduates will really help.

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