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Jocelyne Paulus, UR Guarantee student.

The UR Guarantee program at the University of Regina is known for its fairly obvious incentives.

 

If students who complete the program while taking their undergraduate degree don’t find career related employment within six months of graduation, the university will bring them back for another year of undergraduate classes for free.

 

The program has been criticized for being too job-oriented for a University, but students are signing up this year more than ever.

 

As of the fall 2014, the program has almost 1,000 students taking part.

 

Jocelyne Paulhus, originally from Battleford, is taking education at the U of R. She said at first she was apprehensive to join UR Guarantee but her mother saw a poster when she was helping her move in to residence.

 

“She made an appointment for me to go meet with one of the advisors and I ended up really enjoying it, so I stayed,” said Paulus.

She said the program is somewhat of a comfort for her.

 

“I like knowing that there is someone there, in case I just have an awful week I can go talk to someone,” said Paulus. “And I really liked all the events that they plan.”

 

An appreciation for the UR Guarantee events started when Paulus was 18 years old and in her first year, she said. According to her, most other activities for students, on and off campus, seemed to be geared toward those above the drinking age.

 

“Having the UR Guarantee socials, it was really nice because I got to go to something and meet new people,” she said.

 

The events include prizes, food and mixer games, something Paulus said really helped her.

 

“Coming from a small town and not really knowing anyone…it gave me a chance to meet people,” she said. “One of my closest friends now, we’re both part of the UR Guarantee program, so I guess we kind of bonded over that.”

 

Beyond the socials, UR Guarantee students are expected to participate in a certain number of career-building activities. They also take part in community service and campus engagement. Paulus is a U of R ambassador.

 

She was also encouraged to take part in UR fit classes, choir and residence activities, all in her first year.

 

“It’s basically getting you as involved in campus as you can be,” she said. “You can put these things in your resume just to make you look more employable.”

 

“It’s nice; it’s a break from academics.”

 

Paulus said she thinks the program could offer something to every student at the U of R.

 

“I’ve recommended it to all my friends who have come from Battleford and are coming to the U of R,” she said. “I’ve told them to at least give it a try or go talk to someone about it.”

 

Coby Stephenson is a UR Guarantee advisor for students in the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Fine Arts. She said the philosophy of the program is to help prepare students for what comes after they complete their undergraduate degree and is catered to individual students.

 

“While they’re in school we help them try to reach their education, career and life goals,” she said.

 

According to Stephenson, there are three main areas of focus: academic success, student engagement and service and leadership.

 

She also stressed that the perk of ‘free school’ is not the basis of their program, contrary to popular belief.

 

“The goal of our program isn’t free school …it’s to help students be successful,” said Stephenson. “We prepare them before they even graduate so they know what it’s like out there.”

 

This ‘back up plan’, as Stephenson referred to it, is also one that they haven’t had to use since they started in the fall of 2010.

 

“So far we’re doing very well and no one has come back for the free school,” she said. “We have students in grad school now, students who have gotten into medical school, optometry school or students who have gone directly into the work force.”

 

“So…so far, so good.”

 

Stephenson also said that there is a harsh fact that students still have to understand.

 

“Degree doesn’t equal job, and I guess that’s the biggest concern.”

 

She said post university employment depends largely on how ambitious a students are and how they go about the process.

 

Her tips? Start networking while in university. This could include the Co-op program, she said, or any type of professional placements offered in your faculty. Academic success is vital, according to Stephenson, who said it is too much of a financial and time commitment not too put effort into. Lastly, she said it helps to be involved on campus or in the community.

 

“Students who have completed the program have gone on to do amazing things.”