SmartStart: Academics

Student wearing Western sweatshirt sitting with a laptop

This self-study program will help you reinforce key concepts from high school courses to set you up for success in first year.

The Highlights

  • Build foundational math, science, and writing knowledge needed for your first-year courses
  • Connect with a community of other first-year students
  • Familiarize yourself with Western's online learning tools

SmartStart: Academics kicks off in August. 

Register now! (Western login required)

At the end of this program, you will be able to… 

    1. Refresh your knowledge of high school concepts you'll use in first year. 

    2. Utilize and apply learned concepts through end-of-topic assessments. 

    3. Feel supported and motivated by learning coaches and your own progress. 

FAQs (General Program)

Do I have to sign up for all the courses separately?

No! You just have to register for the SmartStart: Academics OWL site and you will have access to all of the courses in August.

When does the program start and finish?

The program runs throughout the month of August.

Is it done through YouTube links or live sessions or handouts and reading?

The courses are completed on the OWL site. Events will be held on Zoom and details will be available on the OWL site and emailed to your Western email address.

How do I withdraw from the SmartStart program?

You do not need to formally withdraw from the program if you no longer wish to engage with the content. There is no penalty for not completing courses.

FAQ (Time Commitment)

Do I have to be available for the program all month (I have a trip scheduled, etc.)?

No! The courses can be started at any time. SmartStart: Academics will formally end on August 31, but you will be able to access the OWL site throughout the year. There are no deadlines for any practice activities or quizzes throughout the courses.

How much time should I allocate to each module?

Time varies between courses and units. Each module within each course shows an estimated time for completion, which ranges from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Can I work through the program at my own pace or am I expected to be available for certain times during the day for sessions?

Everything is at your own pace! The only component of the program that requires you to be available at certain times are the events. The events are not mandatory, so you can attend the events that fit into your schedule.

FAQ (Assessment)

Do I have to do all the diagnostics?

No. You may take as many or as few diagnostic quizzes as you like. The diagnostics are designed to give you an idea of where you are at in different areas of each course so that you know which topics you may need to spend more time on. To get the most out of the modules, we suggest you take the diagnostic quiz so you will know which areas you need to brush up on. The results of the diagnostic test are only for your information, to use as a guide for your learning.

Am I able to choose which subject to take or is it entirely based on my diagnostic quiz result?

You will have access to every subject shown in your diagnostic quiz regardless of how you scored. They will be divided into modules so you can choose which modules to spend more or less time on. You can also complete the modules in whatever order you like, so you can move on to a new topic without finishing the previous module.

Are there any tests or assessments to be completed at the end?

There are quizzes embedded throughout the courses. Some will be done through external sites, and others will be completed on the OWL site directly. In addition, there are practice problems, questions, and prompts to collaborate on investigations embedded in the units of the courses. The tests and assessments are there to help with your learning and for you to assess how much more reviewing you might need to do.

How many tests or assessments are there? Do I have to do all of them?

Generally, there are 1-2 quizzes per unit. You do not have to do all of them, however, we strongly recommend completing every aspect of the modules that your diagnostic quiz indicated you needed more practice with.

Who can see my test results?

The tests and assessments are there to help with your learning and for you to assess how much more reviewing you might need to do. We may use anonymized data to assess the success of the program.