Academic and Life Skills (ALIS) is a student–focused program, which aims to support Koç University students so that they can be more successful and efficient during their university lives, and to empower them in basic skills, which they may need both in their professional and personal lives. The program aims to support personal development of both Koç University students and employees, so that they can make the principle of lifelong learning a reality.
In these courses planned around experiential exercises, our aim is to help students become more self-aware and actualize their own potentials to the maximum extent during their university education and beyond, while maintaining effective interaction with the outside world. Thus we create opportunities for them to develop the skills that they may need to achieve their potential in all domains of life.
Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Zeynep Aycan who initiated the ALIS program in 2010, the Academic and Life Skills courses were created to establish the “personalized education approach”, which actually should have been adopted earlier in school life in Turkish educational system. Koç University’s liberal academic milieu and its holistic approach to student development have helped anchor this practice and seriously increased the chances of applying what was learned. The realization and the raising awareness of the view that “everyone has their own truths” over “there’s one truth for everyone” have also found support in the environment where learning takes place.
As a result of a pilot study conducted with Koç University students, personal development topics that seemed to provide optimal benefits were determined. Since Fall 2010, ALIS 100 has been taken by all undergraduate students starting Koç University from the English preparatory or the freshman levels. In a research study we have conducted among the students who take the course, significant increases have been noted in their awareness of their responsibilities as university students and their knowledge of academic processes, attitudes concerning time management and use of calendars. In addition, significant development has been observed in the students’ level of knowledge concerning communication styles, their attitudes towards receiving and providing feedback, their skills concerning proper e–mail communication, their knowledge and skills concerning public speaking and presentation techniques. Again, according to the findings of this research, significant increase has been noted in the knowledge of psychologically risky behavior, the effects of stress and stress management skills. Our research concerning the long term retention of these skills is in progress.