Putting yourself in the student’s shoes

As an employee of the University of Ottawa, your job is centred around students, whether or not you work on the front line. And because your workplace is so student-focused, it’s extremely important that you put yourself in the student’s shoes. Here are some examples:

  • You’ve had a bad morning and are now responsible for answering the phone for InfoAdmission. You’re a representative of the University of Ottawa, in some cases the only representative the prospective student knows. Remember that  the person is facing a very difficult decision, and that most prospective students are unsure about what their best option is. Lay out as clearly as possible why you feel University of Ottawa would be a good fit.
  • You’ve had a bad morning and now have to attend a meeting concerning communications. Remember that, though you don’t have to deal directly with students, many of your colleagues do and that being friendly and understanding will make everyone’s job easier.
  • You’re dealing with a student who has just been told that he or she is not eligible for the financial aid the student was counting on. Realize that this is a moment of extreme stress for the student,  who is likely wondering how to afford tuition and textbooks, on top of other necessities such as rent and food. Go through all of the student’s other options. If you feel it’s appropriate, you can also go through some of the other services the University of Ottawa offers to help students in financial need, such as the food bank, the Work-Study Program, etc.
  • You’re helping a first-year student with course selection, and the student doesn’t seem to understand why he or she needs to take a particular philosophy course for a Major in French Studies. Remember that this is a very emotional time for students, and students may not know what courses they should or need to take to succeed in their programs.

Understanding the student’s perspective is not only critical to providing the best possible service. Staff who have put themselves in the student’s shoes have also been responsible for many initiatives to help the students in their academic and everyday lives. By understanding the mind of the student, you can create an environment that encourages growth, learning and success. 

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