Every year, York University’s Faculty of Graduate Studies works with Learning Skills Services to offer a Certificate Program in Personal Wellness and Learning Skills. As with most services, this year the question became: can it exist online?
The answer: yes.
This summer, more than 100 graduate students participated in the certificate program’s first online incarnation, held as a fully remote learning experience in June and taking place over five 90-minute weekly sessions.
The certificate helps students develop strategies to enhance personal wellness and learning skills while also building social connection with other graduate students. This year, learning and wellness skills addressing academic reading, procrastination, motivation, time management and stress reduction were discussed within the unique context of the global pandemic. Topics ranged from growth mindset, time management and establishing productive routines, to managing stressful thoughts, finding balance and developing personal wellness strategies.
Participants were given the opportunity to connect with their peers and become familiar with supports available to graduate students at York University, and response was overwhelming. Within two days of being advertised, more than 160 graduate students had RSVP’d, with 105 logging on to the first session. Overall, student interest was maintained throughout, with 82 participants as the lowest attendance of any session.
Participants’ reactions to the program were extremely positive, with 96 per cent saying they would recommend it to a friend or colleague, and 99 per cent rating the experience as excellent (51 per cent) or good (49 per cent) in terms of its usefulness for improving awareness, knowledge and skills for wellness and learning.
When asked what they appreciated most about the program, students consistently cited its collaborative, communal, peer-focused nature made them feel more connected – and therefore less isolated – in the context of the pandemic. Among the many other comments were:
- “the directly applicable techniques”
- “practical strategies to…cope with anxiety and stress as well as…meaningful tools for skills enhancement and development”
- “relaxed vibe, but it was clear that you understand the challenges of Grad Students”
- “being able to connect with graduate students from other programs”
- “excellent and timely course. Many thanks. When is the next one?”
In answer to that final question, the next Grad Wellness and Learning Skills Certificate program will begin in late September and will once again be fully online. Stay tuned for details about how to register once the fall term is underway.