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Student-centric design boosts International Orientation attendance rates to 90%

January 17, 2019

Orientation is a big day for new students, especially for those crossing the globe to study and live in Canada for the first time. As International Student Advisor, Matthew Keefe puts it, “Orientation is very very important for international students; it’s what sets the stage for their journey at Humber and their whole experience in Canada.”


Keefe worked with Humber’s International Centre for the past eight years and lead the International Orientation for the past four, including the most recent edition on January 3, 2019. He recently departed for a role outside Humber but leaves a fantastic legacy of helping so many students make positive starts in their lives at Humber and shaping the success of the International Orientation program.



According to Keefe, Orientation succeeds when every student has everything they need to start their journey at Humber with confidence. For international students, this includes getting used to a new academic system, with new policies, procedures, and teaching methods. It means answering many non-academic concerns, such as immigration, health insurance, and off-campus employment. It also means creating opportunities to socialize and form the networks that are going to support them over the next few years away from home. A good Orientation makes students feel comfortable in their new lives and gives them the tools to ask questions and get help when they need.



Keefe emphasizes that Orientation organizers need to be passionate. “This is a student’s first experience at Humber and they need to see that we’re passionate about the journey they’re about to go on.” It’s critical to design an event that truly caters to students’ needs. This extends from the presenters and event spaces to making sure the right content is communicated, in the right amount of time, with the right amount of context. Learning from previous students’ experiences has been a big part of Humber’s success, and continually creating experiences that speak to what students want to hear.



In the past two years, Humber’s International Orientation attendance rates reached nearly 90% (from as low as 40%) with increasingly positive feedback from participants. It’s always a matter of working with students and constantly trying to improve the relationship between Humber, the International Center, and international students who are starting out here.


Mobilizing our campus and community resources to make that happen is the goal of Humber’s International Orientation and its metric of success. Many thanks to Matthew Keefe for his years of passion and dedication. With his help, alongside the other members of the Orientation team, we can confidently say that we are making the best possible first impressions—and first starts—for our students.


Matthew Keef

Matthew Keefe