Skills for success at university and beyond

Dr Stella Cottrell

Who is it for?

The Macmillan Education Online Conference 2016 is open to all teachers and professionals working in ELT and is completely FREE to attend!


Teachers and parents can play an important role in helping students to lay good foundations for success at university and beyond. In Stella's session, participants will consider: 

  • what life is like at university in the 21st century and what that means for students    
  • the skills and attitudes that can make a difference to students' success from 'day one' at university    
  • how teachers and parents can help prepare students so that they have the best possible chance of settling in quickly at university, and use the experience to achieve a good degree and go on to get the right job for them

Registration coming soon!

Wednesday 9th November 2016

10.00 - 10.45 (GMT)

Going to university is a huge step in a person's life. Young people at school and college can tend to focus on getting into university as a main goal, but give too little thought to what will happen once they get there. Getting into university is just the first step. Once there, students need to up their game academically. They also need to settle quickly into university life, taking care of themselves, and taking on new challenges.

Some students do arrive at university with a good plan for how to make the best use of all the opportunities on offer to them right from the first day. However, many arrive with few life skills, few ideas about how to use the experience well, and leave it too late to engage in activities that would help them gain good jobs when they graduate. Also, whilst most students do complete their degrees and look back with fondness on their days at university, too many either leave early or struggle unnecessarily.

About the speaker: Dr Stella Cottrell

Stella is internationally renowned for her work on promoting the success of students at university. Her books on students academic, personal and professional development have sold over a million copies. Palgrave’s online interactive study skills resource, skills4studycampus, used by universities and colleges all round the world, is based on her work. Her best known titles are The Study Skills Handbook, Critical Thinking Skills, Skills for Success, The Exam Skills Handbook and, for university teachers, Teaching Study Skills and Supporting Learning. To find out more about Dr Stella Cottrel's titles visit

Educated at Oxford where she gained a first class degree and a doctorate in history, Stella went on to gain a further first class degree in psychology from the Open University, and a certificate in supporting students with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. She has also been awarded an honorary doctorate by The University of Bedfordshire for 'outstanding contribution to lifelong learning and widening participation.

Stella has worked at the Universities of Oxford where she taught final level history, Leeds where she was Director for Lifelong Learning, and UEL as Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning, Teaching and Student Engagement. She was for many years on the Board of Trustees for Certa (formerly OCNYHR) and is Deputy Chair of Governors for Leeds College of Art. She has been keynote speaker and consultant for universities and organisations worldwide, including for the British Council in Central Asia, and for the Chinese Ministry of Education.

A quick Q&A with Dr Stella Cottrell

What inspired and continues to inspire you to talk on study skills?

I have always been fascinated by how people learn - especially why some people do well and others struggle. Whether it is at school, university or at work, it makes such a difference to an individual if they feel comfortable about learning new things . It helps them gain qualifications but it is about much more than that - it also affects their life outcomes and their sense of self worth and well-being. When I first started to promote study skills, I was passionate to advocate that teachers supported students better in becoming skilled learners. Teachers nowadays are much more aware of such issues, though, and much of the inspiration comes in facilitating the exchange of their expertise and in addressing new challenges that arise for students.

What will people learn from you at the MEOC 2016?

Teachers and parents want their students or children to do well in life, including at university and then in their careers. In my session, they will learn about 

  • what life is like at university in 21st century    
  • the skills and attitudes that can make a difference to their success from day 1 at university,
  • how teachers and parents can help prepare students so that they have the best possible chance of settling in quickly at university, using the experience to their best advantage, achieving a good degree and going on to the right jobs

What is your top tip or piece of advice for teachers?

My top tip for teachers is to keep finding opportunities to experience, personally, what it is like to be a beginner again, learning something new where you really feel challenged and out of your comfort zone. It can be scary, but it is so important to maintaining empathy with students.