A new program to prepare college-bound students for independent living is being launched by Dubai-based higher education experts, UniHawk. Delivered through interactive workshops, the initiative aims to provide young people with the tools to overcome the practical and emotional challenges of living away from home for the first time.
Aimed at students aged 16 and over, the program will be led by expert mentors including Integrated
Nutrition and Functional Medicine Health Coach, Sheetal Ramchandani, and Emotional Wellbeing Educator and Mindfulness Coach, Delna Anand. Workshops will cover practical topics such as embracing change, goal setting, time management, meal planning, nutrition, and managing finances. It will also tackle emotional issues such as social assimilation, stress management, sleep, and mental health, as well as subjects that are essential, though rarely discussed at home, like substance misuse and addiction.
Sheetal, who is also the Founder of Liv Lively, explained, “The inspiration for the program came out of my own experience as a mother. When my eldest son was preparing to go to college in the US, he had so many questions about the most basic aspects of living alone, such as cooking and budgeting. Once he moved, we saw how the shift, even just in terms of the change of weather, impacted his mindset and wellbeing.”
She continued, “As a professional in the field, I began to hear of other mothers who were facing similar challenges in supporting their child’s transition to university. In response, I started a small group coaching session for girls in the early stages of their college life, when problems with stress, homesickness, peer pressure and mental well-being are common. We wanted to try and pre-empt these challenges by providing students with the tools to deal with such experiences before they embark on university life.”
The program has also been designed based on feedback from students in college, who admit that they only realized when they got to university what they wish they had known beforehand. Yash, who moved to the US to study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said, “The one thing I wish I’d known before I came to college is how to manage my time and build the self-discipline to study independently.” Rose, who joined University of Waterloo revealed, “I wish I’d known how to manage my finances and my monthly budget to pay my day-to-day bills, and to save as a university student”, while fellow University of Waterloo student, Gowri, added, “I wish I’d know how to manage my stress and what resources were available to better my mental health.”
Explaining the thinking behind the program, Founder and CEO of UniHawk, Varun Jain, said, “This is an important addition to our portfolio of university admissions support. We recognize that students need to be prepared for their new environment practically and emotionally, as well as educationally. Moving out of the family home, often several thousand miles away, is a daunting prospect as a teenager, and our aim is to allay any concerns among students and their parents. Equipping them with the tools to take on the new experiences that lie ahead will help them thrive both personally and academically.”
The workshops will be delivered over one weekend each month, starting 23rd – 24th June.