From Adversity to Resilience: How Soft Skills Empower Students

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about resilience and adaptability as critical soft – make that POWER skills – that students need now more than ever. As COVID-19 rages on with no end in sight, students (and, indeed, everyone) are being challenged over and over again. Yet students are showing us how resilient they are. They’re in it to win it – finding ways to succeed and make forward progress regardless of the hand they’ve been dealt.

Finding Courage in Uncertainty: Lessons from International Students

Earlier this week, we had the tremendous opportunity to hear the stories of six international students: Grant, Adriana, Sarah, Aswathi, John and Noah. Each was caught up in an unimaginable situation of studying abroad and forced to pack up and head home with only a few days’ notice. Despite being confused and anxious, they did it. They found a way. Their courage should stand as a beacon for all those students who are struggling with uncertainty right now, who are unclear if they should take a COVID gap year, gap semester, or enroll in a local college to save money. These are big decisions that require critical thinking, adaptability, and other soft skills. GO BIG or GO HOME, as they say. 

These are some of the students that are thriving, in spite of the odds. They’re the examples that we all desperately need right now. But that’s not everyone’s truth.

Many students are struggling, lacking the critical coping skills and being disenfranchised from the routine and socialization offered by schools. Without friends to lean on and a seemingly endless co-existence with parents and siblings in spaces that feeling increasingly crowded, students are looking for guidance.

Anxiety has been further heightened for some students with the recent ICE directive mandating that international students who are not attending classes in-person in the Fall go back to their homelands. How horrible! Unconscionable to crash dreams and defy the very essence, purpose and value of higher learning. Tsk Tsk!

Uncertainty abounds as colleges and high schools flip flop their decisions, withhold their decisions or hedge their bets with some incarnation of “hybrid schooling.” In essence, it amounts to running a calculated risk of infection in exchange for a higher quality learning experience by being physically present in front of a teacher or professor in the company of classmates and onsite to access critical laboratory tools and equipment. Students and parents are miffed. Thus far, only Princeton has offered a 10% discount for the “virtual learning” experience and other schools are not inclined to budge.

Uniting in Patience and Empathy: Supporting Each Other Through the COVID-19 Crisis

To be fair, nobody knows where COVID goes from here. Administrators, educators and students are all doing their best. That’s all that anyone can ask.

We need to all be patient and show empathy. This situation isn’t easy for anyone. Uniting together and offering support, guidance and whatever else that we can do to help each other out of this is the best course of action that any one of us can take. And, when we have doubts, we need to think about Grant, Adriana, Sarah, Aswathi, John and Noah who have shown tremendous courage. They stand as leaders and examples of resilience, having developed strong life skills to weather any storm. The wind has blown them in new directions but they have replanted themselves, dug their roots in and prepared for the storm ahead. They will bend in the wind – not break.

#collegeinterrupted #steerus 

 Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay  

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