Post Secondary Student Journey Map
The Student Journey Map helps student leaders consider the whole experience of students during their education. It is a diagram that calls out different parts of the student experience so that student leaders can consider a balanced approach to mental wellness throughout the cycle—becoming student-centred starts with understanding the whole student experience.
The journey map covers a typical twelve month cycle that includes two terms—however, the same cycle repeats: preparation, early adjustment, regular classes and assignments, and then end of term assignments and exams. Note that this pattern applies just as much to a six week on campus experience for an apprentice or a twelve month legal assistant program.
However, students’ whole experience on campus isn’t just about their academic experience, and it isn’t just about this ‘Outer Journey’ navigating the specifics of the academic year. The map includes some highlights of the journey of getting ready for post secondary – searching out universities or colleges to go to, applying and getting rejected or accepted, perhaps moving (which includes searching and finding acceptable housing etc. etc. And it includes the activities after graduation – perhaps moving again. You’ll see these on the far right and left side of the academic outer journey graphic.
But a student’s experience of school is imbedded in their whole life experiences – social life, love and relationships; finances (almost always finances and learning to manage expenses are a major source of stress!), work, as well as personal health and wellbeing. These experiences outside the ‘student’ role are important to mental health and mental illness or issues with the need to be comfortable accessing appropriate supports.
Highlighting a student’s whole life experience while they are at post secondary is one of the ways that a mentally healthy campus can improve its degree of student-centredness.
A person’s experience is made up of both the outer journey AND their “Inner Journey”. All of us have emotions about being a new kid in a class, of finding new friends, of learning where the best Laundromat and grocery store are – and the aggregate of many stresses can add up.
This Student Journey Map also includes the various stages of a Student Leader’s Term – as different actions are required in each stage. These are described in the Student Term Cycle section.
Sections of the Journey Map
The student journey has four main sections:
1) Academic Life
The first row shows activities related to school assignments and logistics—from moving to exams. It also shows actions that prospective students and graduates take before and after their student experience.
2) Student Life
The second row shows various aspects of student life that can provide support or may create additional stresses. Throughout this cycle students experience stress in different ways—it may be from the academic work of classes and homework, or it may be from various elements of student life. These student life elements are represented throughout the experience and include social life, love and relationships, finances and work, and health and wellbeing.
3) Typical Stress
This is one element of students’ inner journey. Based on a survey of over 2000 students we asked about which month(s) of the year they experienced most stress. This is graphed across the student experience cycle (note that August is duplicated). Other discussions with students tells us that not everyone follows this cycle – some have much more stress at the beginning of the year – some are more stressed over the summer months, perhaps because they take summer classes, perhaps because their job is much more stressful than school. Perhaps different programs or faculties have different patterns. So it’s important to customize your strategies to the particular needs of students in your campus.
4) Student Leader Cycle
Finally, we mapped the typical stages of a student leader’s term in office against the overall student experience. These stages of a student leader’s term may vary in their timing but everyone will need to work through each stage. By considering how your term fits with the overall student experience you can develop a better sense of where and when and how you need to be ready to contribute.