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Student wellbeing workshop: How to reboot your social and academic life after COVID

Students in group discussions at the wellbeing workshop (Photo: Birgitte Ramsø Thomsen)

New MSc students of Business Administration and Mathematical Business Economics found out they were not alone: most fellow students feel awkward when speaking to strangers, especially after two years of online studies. A student wellbeing workshop helped give them tools to act: to dare speak up in class, arrange social gatherings – or even ask out that nice someone from Nexus café. This autumn, the session will be scaled up into a Masterclass for all graduate students.

News |   02. Sep 2022

Birgitte Ramsø Thomsen

Editor-in-chief

Starting at a new study programme was never easy to begin with – and the 2+ years of lockdown have not helped. It takes work and courage to achieve a great sense of community, with classmates who don’t just turn up for lectures and leave immediately after.

That’s why Vincent Adam Bonde Boysen, an MSc student of Business Administration and Mathematical Business Economics and study start coordinator, reached out to the Student Transformation Support team at CBS to ask for their cooperation in setting up a workshop on student well-being. 

This is the first time such an event is being incorporated in the introduction week for the new class of MSc students.

“The workshop encourages students to take a more active role in socialising, arranging to meet and getting a more closely knit class. It’s easiest to introduce this during introduction week,” he points out.

The students belong to what is called “Generation Lockdown”. Most are from the BSc in Business Administration and Mathematical Business Economics programme and have, until now, been unable to set foot on campus without COVID-19 restrictions for two years straight.

Vincent Adam Bonde Boysen, MSc student of Business Administration and Mathematical Business Economics and study start coordinator (Photo: Birgitte Ramsø Thomsen)

Several studies, e.g. from the Danish Evaluation Institute EVA (on first-year students during lockdown, have confirmed that university life has suffered on all parameters: quality of learning, commitment, motivation and social relationships. The lockdowns have affected mental health, exacerbating feelings of loneliness, stress, boredom.

That is why the introduction week for the MSc in Business Administration and Mathematical Business Economics students is focusing on kicking off a social community – as most of them have not even met each other in real life, despite attending two years of the degree programme together.

Workshop gives students tools to act

The introduction week included a Friday 26 August workshop session at Kilen, led by coach Madeleine Bøklin, an experienced Life & Leadership Coach, who works at KPMG, a CBS Career Partner.

For three hours, in groups and all together, the students explored various exercises to raise awareness of how thought patterns affect actions – or non-actions. And how to work on changing counterproductive habits. Clue: It’s about feeling the fear – and doing it anyway.

Sharing your thoughts and feelings in a facilitated group is immensely helpful. This makes you realise that even though you are unique, a large percentage of classmates struggle with similar issues

Madeleine Bøklin, Life & Leadership Coach at KPMG

One – called Start, Stop, Keep – focused on the pros and cons of staying home a lot during lockdowns. What to leave and what to keep? What was exciting and what challenges are faced when returning to university in person?

Another exercise introduced six basic human needs and asked the participants to identify their own most dominant need – and then suggest activities, both social and study-focused, to address these needs.

Madeleine Bøklin, a coach from KPMG and workshop facilitator (Photo: Birgitte Ramsø Thomsen)

A third asked the students to list qualities they admire in other people. It turns out, Madeleine Bøklin explained, that these qualities reflect your own values, and are what you bring to the table. Some of your qualities are well-developed – while others reflect your values and aspirations.

Workshop scale-up to form Masterclass for all students

Rasmus Bysted, a participant and new MSc student of Business Administration and Mathematical Business Economics, really enjoyed the workshop:

“It opened our eyes, and we were presented with tools to make more interactions happen – and more easily. I especially liked the Start, Stop, Keep model and the Personal CV of qualities.  I’m confident other students could benefit from this too. I hope – and believe – we will get more social activities going now that we have come up with ideas we can easily put into action.”

Rasmus Bysted, new MSc student of Business Administration and Mathematical Business Economics (Photo: Birgitte Ramsø Thomsen)

Anna Patricia Dencker, Relations Manager at Student Transformation Support at CBS, also attended the workshop and was impressed by how open and committed the students were when discussing and sharing feelings of vulnerability and ways to overcome them.

“We definitely think this could be useful for student wellbeing across CBS. We are working with facilitator Madeleine Bøklin on arranging a Masterclass, scheduled for October, in which all students across master’s programmes at CBS can attend.”

As Madeleine Bøklin puts it: “Sharing your thoughts and feelings in a facilitated group is immensely helpful. This makes you realise that even though you are unique, a large percentage of classmates struggle with similar issues. This is the way to normalise our thoughts, feelings and behaviours.”

The date and details of the coming Masterclass will be announced on MyCBS.

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