Incoming students gain skills and confidence through Academic Essentials

Transformative Learning | Strategy 11: Education Renewal
Theme: Innovation
Photo credit: Paul H. Joseph, UBC Brand & Marketing

Launched in the summer of 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Academic Essentials program was designed to prepare students for the unique experience of attending classes remotely. The program has been a valuable asset for newly enrolled students at UBC for the past couple of years, providing a solid foundation in academics during the summer before they begin their journey as undergraduate students in the fall. Academic Essentials gave students the opportunity to connect and collaborate with each other as UBC went virtual at the onset of the pandemic.

The program was developed through collaboration between UBC Vantage College and Extended Learning, with a team of 25 faculty and staff and 20 students from different departments who worked tirelessly to ensure the program’s success.

Academic Essentials comprises three courses: Reading and Writing and University; Readiness for University Mathematics; and Live Well to Learn Well. These courses cover a wide range of topics, ranging from active listening and critical reading, fundamentals of mathematics, and tips and strategies for excelling at university and fostering community. All courses are delivered online, with peer-supported synchronous learning activities being a key component of the course design. The courses are offered for free to all new-to-UBC students.

In 2021, the Academic Essentials program saw over 6,000 course registrations from more than 2900 unique students, domestic and international, across both campuses; 22 percent of the incoming class at UBCO and 29 percent of the incoming class at UBCV registered in the program. Surveys conducted before and after completion of the courses also showed that students gained confidence in the topics in the courses.

Raiaan Khan, a participant in the program, reflects on her experience: “Live Well to Learn Well came with a lot of helpful advice to help plan out a proper healthy lifestyle. I am actually impressed with the knowledge I gained from it. I was also provided with lots of useful resources and support for mental health. The discussion posts not only introduced me to how to navigate through Canvas, but also gave me insight into the welcoming community at UBC.”

Reflecting on the program’s accomplishments and its popularity among students, the university sees Academic Essentials having long-term value as part of the orientation ecosystem, in both virtual and in-person contexts.

Please visit the Academic Essentials website to learn more about the program.

Through Strategy 11: Education Renewal, UBC is engaged in enabling quality education and guaranteeing support systems towards this objective for all students under its portfolio.