Student Toolkit for Preparing to Start at University
Last week, the Student and Wellbeing Services team at AECC University College held a Transition Event, which was open to any student looking for additional support during their transition to University.
A highlight of this event was a guest lecture by Dr. Camila Devis-Rozental, author of The Student Wellbeing Toolkit Preparing for Life at College, University and Beyond.
Camila spoke to students about the toolkit that she has created to help students find the transition from school to University easier. She explained how this was a very personal book for her and how passionately she believes that putting the strategies, tools, and checklists into place in your life at a time of change can make a big difference.
Tools for Transition
“The transition to University can feel like a huge step; and it’s ok if it feels like that for you. It might be the first time you’ve lived away from home, cooked for yourself, or had a bank account.
“In this transitional period, there are lots of things you can do to ensure that you approach your life with a positive mindset and grow resilience. Making sure you eat and sleep well, you make time to socialise, and you create a comfortable environment are all really important to your wellbeing.
“I know that if you work on having a positive mindset, and you work hard on this every day, you can overcome many things and start to thrive. That’s the key – if you are doing these practices every day, you will notice the benefit.
“Of all the books that I have written, this one is my favourite. I have written it so that it can be used at any transitional point in your life.
“This book is written for someone going through a period of change. I’m providing the tools that hopefully they will feel empowered to make work for them. I believe that if they use some of these tools consistently, they will see an improvement in their wellbeing.
“I also include practical information for starting university – information about academic skills and concepts. Knowing what those mean makes things seem less intimidating.”
Overcoming Difficult Things
“In 2005, I was diagnosed with a movement disorder, nerve damage and fibromyalgia. This life-changing experience made me a wheelchair user and had a profound effect on the way I viewed the world.
“When I first became disabled, and I had to learn to accept the new me, I had to work really hard. I had to learn to accept who I was now, to mourn who I had been, and to learn how to thrive.
“I think we spend so much time criticising and berating ourselves. I used to say, treat yourself as you would your best friend; but now I say, treat yourself as you would a puppy. Failures and mistakes are just part of life and it's important to acknowledge and learn from them – but not ruminate on them too much.
“I wish every student could leave University with a degree, but also as a motivated, enthusiastic, confident human being that goes on to make the world better.”
Being Part of a Community
“AECC University College is a small University and that makes you as students very lucky. You have a sense of community more easily because of this. A sense of belonging and feeling understood by those around you is a very important part of finding happiness.”
Reflecting on the visit, Professor Kevin McGhee, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at AECC University College, said: “It was fantastic to have Dr. Camila Devis-Rozental with us for our Transition Event.
“I think Camila’s six dimensions of wellbeing are really useful for new students. I particularly liked her advice to ‘be curious about what works for you’; that’s valuable advice for any of us who are experiencing a transition and want to get the best out of ourselves.
“I think this book has resources that can benefit all students and help mitigate the worries and anxieties that they might be experiencing as they start at University for the first time. What Camila is doing is really special.
“I believe being a small, specialist University does bring advantages for our students, in terms of settling in with us and feeling part of a community. Everyone studying at AECC UC has an interest in health sciences and that’s our focus.”
Preparing to Start at AECC University College
Head of Student Services, Lisa Bates, explains more about the support that is available to new students:
“We organise our Transition Event to support students who might feel more nervous about starting University and help them hit the ground running. The event takes place ahead of Welcome Week, which is happening this week.
“The Student Services team loves Camila’s toolkit and we were so excited that she could join us for our Transition Event. She’s the perfect person for our new students to hear from. The book is practical and is really student friendly. It gives students advice that they can put into place straight away.
“When you start University, the Student Services team is on hand to support you however you need. We can help with developing Study Skills, provide advice on Student Finance and budgeting, and support you with your mental health. You just need to come and see us – we'd love to meet you!”
About Dr. Camila Devis-Rozental
Dr. Camila Devis-Rozental is a Principal Academic in Socio-emotional intelligence (SEI) and Service Excellence at Bournemouth University.
She has been nominated for the 2023 Positive Role Model for Disability Award at the National Diversity Awards and in 2022 she was included in the Disability Power 100 list by The Shaw Trust, celebrating the most influential disabled people in the UK, in recognition to her work in humanising education.
Camila has over 20 years of experience in the field of education with a focus on humanising education, by exploring how metacognition, prosocial behaviours, emotions and social interactions affect teaching and learning.
Above: Dr. Camila Devis-Rozental