Spotlight on Students: Making Referrals

During Orientation week, students are overwhelmed with information about the different offices, clubs and groups on campus that are here to offer support and resources for every aspect of their student lives.  What makes even more of a difference is if students continue to receive reminders about resources throughout the term.  A timely referral can make a significant difference for a student facing unexpected struggles, or for someone who has questions but isn’t sure how to ask them.

How to prepare for referrals:

  • Learn more about what services are available on campus. Our Resources page and the Student Life website are good places to start.
  • Ask your Department Administrator for printed materials to keep on hand, such as information on Student Life programs or writing resources.
  • Discuss with your Teaching Assistants how to make referrals and highlight resources for them. As a team, discuss how to prepare for common requests that accompany periods of stress, such as extensions and late submissions.
  • Print out, and post in a convenient location, Emergency Contact Numbers in case of an urgent situation or a student in distress.

Tips for instructors on making good referrals during the term:

  • Your regular announcements during class time can be used to mention campus resources. For example, the week you distribute assignment guidelines is a good time to remind students about Writing Centres and academic support offices such as the Academic Success Centre, the Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre (UTM) and the Centre for Teaching and Learning (UTSC).
  • Use your course website to post important calendar information such as assignment due dates, exam schedules, and drop dates.
  • Remember that issues requiring a referral may not emerge until a course is well under way, due to unforeseen circumstances, improved awareness of supports, or build-up of stress.
  • Although a need may be for “just in time” help, some services may not be able to provide this. (For example, Writing Centre appointments must typically be made at least a week in advance, and accommodations through Accessibility Services are arranged once a student has enrolled and established a relationship with their Counsellor.) However, connecting a student to a resource will still have benefit in the longer term.
  • Listen for signs of distress or emotional difficulty such as: sudden changes in mood, changes in hygiene, tearfulness, health concerns, changes in relationships or home situations, or any mention of violence.
  • See the Connections guide for advice on how to proceed with delicate situations involving students in crisis.
  • Do follow-up with the student after making a referral. This will show the student you do care, and also help you learn about whether the referral was effective.

Looking for more places to find information about referrals? Try the following links:



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