High School Transition
Student Success Stories
Jake Fehr graduated last fall with a bachelor of science degree from the University of Calgary. Despite the difficulties posed by being a postsecondary student with a disability, Jake looks back fondly on his time in university
Fehr, who has a visual impairment and is legally blind, attended high school in the community of Taber, Alberta. Moving from such a small town to one of Canada’s larger cities and university campuses would be intimidating in itself, without the added pressure of getting used to a whole new system of learning. But Jake made sure he was ready. In addition to simply spending time in Calgary to get used to city life before actually moving there, Jake also attended a new student orientation session at the university. He says that the experience of spending a few days with other students on campus during the summer - which he says is now a mandatory component for all new University of Calgary students – was a big help in easing his transition.
“That was one of the biggest things I did (to help prepare myself),” says Jake. “And the orientation gave me a chance to meet with the disability resource centre to introduce myself and see how they could accommodate me.”
Jake’s familiarization with university life didn’t end there. In many ways, it continued throughout his entire post-secondary career. He lived in residence for three years, which, in addition to allowing him to get a better sense of the campus by being exposed to it all the time, also meant he didn’t have to worry about transportation to school, cooking or cleaning.
He says he also managed to develop an effective learning and time management strategy over his years at university. Jake says this is something all students should concentrate on right from the start of their post-secondary career.
“In high school, there’s no such thing as study skills or time management,” he says. “It’s important to learn prioritization in university, to spend most of your time on the assignments that are worth more and are due sooner.” Jake also says effective note taking, and learning to pick out things from lectures that will likely be on exams and tests, are important skills to build. “I got to the point where in a lot of courses, I didn’t have to sit at the front of the class