Life 101, a life skills and self-care management course developed and taught by UCI pharmaceutical sciences professor Dr. Mahtab Jafari, will be offered for students at all 10 UC campuses through cross-campus enrollment beginning Jan. 4.
The two-unit course, also known as Pharmaceutical Sciences 42, has been taught at UCI each winter quarter since 2013. While required for pharmaceutical sciences students, it is open as an elective to students of all majors. According to the syllabus,“[T]he only prerequisite for this course is to have an enthusiasm to learn, to question and to change.”
“I learned that our students don’t have the time to learn the skills to cope with their stress, so let’s teach them these skills,” Dr. Jafari said in a UCI TEDx presentation during the inaugural year of the course. “In my mind, these skills are as important, or maybe more important, than teaching physics, chemistry, biology and calculus.”
The course content of Life 101 largely revolves around strategies to ensure that students maintain their physical and emotional health, including such topics as stress management, self-care, nutrition and managing personal finances. Some specific modules explain the importance of acknowledging and coping with mental health struggles, establishing a consistent sleep schedule and using the natural environment as a source of tranquility.
“Considering that stress levels and poor lifestyle choices in college students are increasing at an alarmingly fast pace, this course may serve as an effective educational tool to teach healthy lifestyle choices, promote students’ well-being and help them to recognize and manage their stress,” the course syllabus states.
While stress remains prevalent in college and university settings, the COVID-19 pandemic in particular has contributed to a significant rise in overall mental health struggles among students. A study conducted between March and May by the Healthy Minds Network in conjunction with the American Association of Colleges found that 66% of college students report that they have had more stressful financial situations due to the pandemic while access to mental health resources has become more difficult. It also found that the prevalence of depression has risen by 5.2% compared to fall 2019.
With this in mind, Dr. Jafari continues to ensure that Life 101 adapts to the circumstances, implementing more detailed course content to address mental and emotional health in the upcoming quarter of the course.
“I look at this course as a constant work in progress,” Dr. Jafari said. “For instance, because of the pandemic, I will include more information on emotional health in the winter quarter.”
Created with the ultimate goal to combat the stress of balancing schoolwork and life, the upcoming quarter of Life 101 will offer an asynchronous option, allowing for convenient access adapted to students’ schedules.
“I was inspired to make changes for myself as well as to become a better person,” a student who completed the inaugural Life 101 course said in an anonymous submitted comment. “It changed my life and my perceptions in a positive way.”
Ariana Keshishian is a City News Intern for the 2020 fall quarter. She can be reached at email@example.com.