Transitioning from high school to university is hard, regardless of the circumstances. This must especially be the case this year. With most Canadian universities holding most of their classes online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many students, especially those in their first year, are struggling with the transition and are having a hard time meeting their fellow students.
Two University of Winnipeg (U of W) students are trying to address this problem. Cousins Jacob Wiseman and Jonah Perlmutter are the cofounders of A.S.E., a not-for-profit organization with the goal to make “transitioning from high school to first-year university as easy as possible,” according to their website.
“We’re a tutoring and mentorship group completely run by students,” Wiseman, a kinesiology student, says, adding that all those involved in the organization are volunteers.
“We originally started A.S.E. because of the pandemic,” he says. “Our goal is to match first-year students with upper-year students that are willing to help them in their subjects.”
To access A.S.E.’s services, students visit their website and fill out a short form. From there, they are matched with a tutor or a mentor who will help them at no cost.
“Mentorship and advice can help people have a good post-secondary education,” Perlmutter, a biochemistry student, says.
“It’s as integral to post-secondary education as is anything,” he adds.
Currently, A.S.E.’s services are offered at eight Canadian universities: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, McGill University, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, University of Toronto and Western University.
To run the operation, Wiseman and Perlmutter have a large team.
“We have just over 80 (volunteers),” Wiseman says. He notes that these include not only tutors and mentors, but also volunteers working on the operational and financial sides of things.
“There’s a lot of great volunteer opportunities,” Perlmutter says.
“Being able to give volunteers the opportunity to practice their teaching and ‘practice their subject’ is pretty amazing,” Wiseman adds.
Moving forward, A.S.E. is planning to expand in other North American institutions.
“One of the first next steps we’re planning to take is expanding to the University of Winnipeg,” Perlmutter says.
“Another thing that’s in the works right now is an Indigenous youth outreach program,” he says.
The co-founders mention that Indigenous students are disproportionately faced with poor internet access. They hope to provide tutoring via the phone as an alternative to bandwidth-heavy video calls.
“We’re working on this outreach program to help level these systematic disadvantages,” Perlmutter says.
For more information on A.S.E., visit their website, asetm.com.
Published in Volume 75, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 20, 2021)