BCIT takes its commitment to being a people-focused institution and puts it into practice to make student success a priority – because putting theory into practice is what BCIT does best.
“Our students are incredible and resilient, taking on some really intense programs because they have amazing career and life goals that they want to pursue,” says Michael Mandrusiak, Associate Director of Student Access and Wellbeing. “And that certainly comes with a range of pressures.”
Those pressures can take on all forms, from academic struggle and financial strain to personal stress. While this is true of all post-secondary institutions, BCIT has implemented Health and Wellness services to powerfully and holistically address them.
In fact, many of the student services at BCIT have been built upon the eight dimensions of wellbeing: intellectual, occupational, physical, financial, psychological, environmental, spiritual, and social. “We know that to be learning optimally, a student needs to be healthy and well,” says Michael. “To be at your best, it’s important to take care of your health in each dimension.”
With that in mind, here’s a look at the range of resources that can help ensure your educational journey is a success.
Supporting physical and mental health
If you need medical care—for either your physical or mental health—Student Health Services has you covered. “Our physicians, nurses, psychiatrist, and medical office assistants create a warm and welcoming environment,” says Michael.
Medical services are available to everyone, and can often be conducted virtually, by phone, or in person. Likewise, through Counselling & Student Development, students can access free, confidential counselling for anything they’re struggling with—from academic pressure to difficult relationships. “We have really great response times, and students can often get in to see a counsellor in a matter of days,” adds Michael.
Staying physically active is crucial as well. Not only is it great for your body, it’s great for your brain and your general sense of wellbeing. That’s why Recreation Services provides a variety of resources, including free fitness classes and virtual options for staying healthy at home.
Making space for communities to thrive
BCIT strives to create spaces of belonging for all students. At the broadest level, the BCIT Student Association develops programs and services to support full-time and part-time learners across all five campuses. No matter what you’re studying, you can find activities, resources, and peer networks to help you along.
There are also services, such as the Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships Office, that are specific to different communities at BCIT. “The Indigenous Gathering Place, Mi Chap Tukw, is a welcoming and safe space for students, families, and staff at our Burnaby campus,” says Michael. “Indigenous students are encouraged to access and enjoy the fully equipped kitchen, computer lounge, and study area.”
Specialized services are available to international students as well. “There are a lot of details, logistics, and challenges that come with being an international student, so it’s important to have supports in place,” says Michael. “The International Student Centre hosts a lot of info sessions, workshops, and events.” It’s also there to help students understand and process International Letters of Verification, study permits, travel plans, and medical insurance.
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Ensuring students are seen and heard
Through the Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion office, BCIT takes a firm stance against bullying, harassment, and discrimination in all forms, and can help resolve conflicts both formally and informally so that every student can feel respected and included while at school. There are also a number of organizations students can join to champion diversity and inclusion, such as Pride at BCIT.
To remove barriers to education for students with disabilities and create an inclusive learning environment that empowers everyone, Accessibility Services will customize tailored solutions according to individual student needs.
“One message we always try to get out is that it is important for students to reach out to Accessibility Services as early as possible,” notes Michael. “We work to accommodate everyone regardless, but sometimes it takes a bit of time to get those accommodations in place.” The sooner you reach out, the sooner the Accessibility Services staff can have everything ready to support you.
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Empowering success in your education
The Learning Commons at BCIT is students’ one-stop shop for academic support. It’s a hub where students can improve their writing skills, and other skills they’ll need to excel in their post-secondary education.
Students can work with peer tutors in groups or one-on-one. “Oftentimes, they can be paired with a more senior student who’s actually done coursework in their area,” explains Michael. “For students who are needing a little bit of support, it really is a gem of a resource.”
The Student Life Office also ensures students have the support they need. The team has launched the Early Assist Program to catch anyone who might be falling through the cracks. “If somebody saw a student that they’re a little concerned about, and thought they might need some help or support—or if the student themselves felt they needed support—they can submit an Early Assist request through our website,” says Michael.
“A Student Life Manager will do a friendly check-in to see how they’re doing and if they’re needing any help,” says Michael. “That check-in is confidential. If the student doesn’t want the help, that’s okay, but we’ve found that a lot of students have really appreciated the program.”
Take advantage of the resources at BCIT
Because student life can be hectic, it can sometimes be a challenge just to recognize that getting help now will have huge benefits down the road. “Students might feel too busy to go see a counsellor, check into Accessibility Services, or connect with peer tutoring—but carving out a bit of time to get the right support in place early will pay off down the road,” says Michael.
“Our community is made up of people, and our organization is made up of people—and when those people are healthy and happy, the organization is more effective, and the community is stronger as a whole,” he adds. “Everyone’s wellness is interconnected.”
Learn more about the Student Services at BCIT.