Dal's Truro Start program expands small‑school option to more students

- January 25, 2024

Truro Start students Skye Ladham-Smith, Ryan Berrigan, Ayva Perepelitza and Hannah Hominick. (Provided photo)
Truro Start students Skye Ladham-Smith, Ryan Berrigan, Ayva Perepelitza and Hannah Hominick. (Provided photo)

Dalhousie's Truro Start program has been providing a small-school experience with big-city impact to students since 2022. 

Initially open to students in the Faculty of Science, the program expanded last fall to include learners in the Faculty of Computer Science with a further expansion on the way for students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences this coming September. 

The program gives students the option to complete the first year of their chosen degree on Dal's campus in Truro — where they can take advantage of smaller class sizes — before transitioning into their second and final years in Halifax. 

“I was accustomed to class sizes smaller than eight, so my 25 student classes actually feel pretty big,” explains Kristin Gaudet, a first-year Computer Science student from Digby County who took advantage of Truro Start.

“It's nice starting off in a smaller area. I've made a lot of friends here and it already feels like home,” she adds.

Setting students up for success

The program also enables student to meet peers in their cohort through a first-year interest group and offers access to a dedicated program coordinator and advisor.

“I am so pleased to see this program expanding on our campus and students from a variety of disciplines living and studying together," says Dr. Gefu Wang-Pruski, acting campus principal on the Truro campus. “Providing a variety of experiences for a variety of learners can only aid in their success within Dalhousie University.”

Student Ayva Perepelitza of Cold Lake, Alberta, says she was grateful to be part of the program.

“By starting my degree at a smaller campus, I am able to navigate university easier, and feel as though my learning matters," she says.

Christian Blouin, associate dean academic in the Faculty of Computer Science, says expanding the program makes a lot of sense. 

“Offering a new point of entry in the Computer Science discipline is important,” says Dr. Blouin. “The experience in Truro is different than in Halifax, and if this environment allows our students to build a strong foundation, then the Truro Start program is a success for us.”

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A smoother transition

Ashley Coffin, program coordinator for Truro Start, says she's enjoyed the experience of seeing students through the program.

“For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of working with students on their transition to university, academic goals, and going to Halifax. Students are enjoying the small class sizes, the one-on-one support, and living in a small town on a smaller campus," she says.  "It’s rewarding to experience their growth throughout their first year.”

Truro Start students benefit from studying at Dalhousie, with its great reputation, while also living in a small, active town with a guaranteed a room in residence. 

“This is a great way to start your computer science studies in an environment that will help foster your abilities and prepare you for moving to the Halifax campus in your second year,” says Christine Faion, an instructor in the Faculty. “Our aim is to help build a student’s confidence. It's all the Computer Science fundamentals, and with our smaller class sizes we can often have chats about what we are learning. If you've hesitated to start your degree, this can be a great way to get back into education, too.“

For more information on the program or reach out to Ashley directly at Ashley.coffin@dal.ca or phone 902-890-0027


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