Many #Acadv chats ago, the topic of discussion was resiliency in academic advising. Honestly, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard the word in relation to academic advising. I pictured my participation to be on the milder side with more listening than tweeting. What I thought would be a silent observation turned into spectacular interactions and a better understanding of how we teach our students resilience every day – maybe without realizing it. Hopefully, in less than 500 words, I can convince you that incorporating resiliency more intentionally is something you can easily do in your work with students!
What is resiliency?
“Resiliency is the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds–trauma, tragedy, personal crises, plain ‘ole’ life problems–and bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful.”
Bringing this definition specifically into the college setting, resiliency can be applied to academics, personal relationships, professional development goals, and overall identity exploration. Basically, it’s how you stand up from a fall and get back in the step of things again. Who hasn’t hit a roadblock in their college career?!
Why does it matter?
The milliennial generation of college students are “the largest, healthiest, and most-cared-for generation in U.S. history” (as cited in Working with Parents). I will confess as a millennial myself, it have lived in a protected world with a recurring emphasis on safety. Seat belts in cars, black boxes in planes, Amber alerts — there has been no shortage of community concern for safety.
This being the case, along with the expectation of always performing above average, millennial students are bound to have a reality adjustment at some point (myself included). Study skills don’t translate well from high school to college. The classroom environment comes with more personal responsibility. Leadership opportunities will put you up against other high-achieving students.
Resilience may not be a life skill that our students have, and that could be attributed to the fact that they haven’t always had to be resilient up to this point. If things came easily up to this point, a student hasn’t yet felt the impact of hitting a roadblock and thinking through how to jump over it.
What can we do?
For me, I think the bottom line is always remaining solution-oriented. Yes, a pity party may be in order for a short while. I’m not above that myself. But, the biggest part of building resiliency is demonstrating that a roadblock doesn’t mean you turn around or stop moving. It means you find another way. Maybe it wasn’t your original idea or plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s not attainable.
We can never predict the true resiliency of every student. Returning, transfer, and adult students are more likely to demonstrate an understanding of resiliency. After all, it’s something that can only come with life experience. However, our millennial students surprise us every day, and this article is not meant to say every millennial lacks resiliency. Instead, it is just to highlight one adjustment topic that may help in your day-to-day work with students in advising, residence life, and student organization development.