One personality trait that has been emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic is resilience. But resilience is critical at many trying stages of life, especially during the college admissions process and throughout your college career.
Resilience is necessary to thrive in higher education. Here’s what high school juniors and seniors should know about resilience, as well as how they can start building it today.
Why Resilience Matters if You Plan to Attend College
Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from adverse situations, like a low grade on an important test or the loss of a job. Some people might equate resilience with toughness or having “a thick skin,” but there is a difference: A person who is tough or who has thick skin may hardly be affected by adversity in the first place. A resilient person, on the other hand, may allow himself or herself to experience the sadness and difficulty caused by the misfortune, but soon bounce back from it.
Resilience is one of the predictors of how successful a student will be in higher education. While the college years are undoubtedly filled with adventure, entertainment and an immense amount of learning, they do not go by without their share of challenges.
Challenges in college may include not getting along with your freshman-year roommate, homesickness, difficulty adjusting to more demanding classes, trouble making friends and so on. All of these experiences, while normal, require resilience for students to emerge triumphantly and continue along the long yet rewarding road of education. Imagine how few people would graduate college if they gave up after a tough first semester!
Resilience Can Fuel Success in the Last Half of High School
When things do not turn out as you hoped they would, you always have two choices: let defeat get the best of you or persevere in a more intelligent and informed way. To quote Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Every failure has something to teach you, even when it is a lesson that hurts to accept.
If you are wise, though, you do not just learn from your own mistakes – you learn from others’ mistakes, too. As former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Instead of wallowing in negativity, analyze what may have gone wrong and apply those learnings to future pursuits. Did you receive a scholarship rejection letter as a junior because you waited until the last minute to write your essay and the result was a lackluster product? Or did you miss the application deadline altogether? If so, improving your time management and organizational skills should be at the top of your to-do list, particularly with college applications in your senior year.
How to Build Resilience for Success Now and in College
To build resilience, you must first become comfortable with the idea of failure. Absolutely everyone fails at some point in life, even the figures we admire for their outstanding accomplishments.
Did you know, for instance, that former President Abraham Lincoln lost in the run for the Illinois state legislature in 1832? Had “Honest Abe” tossed in the towel after this defeat, American history could have taken a different turn.
When you are having a bad day, it can help profoundly to look up inspirational quotes and speeches, especially from individuals like Lincoln, Hellen Keller, Frederick Douglass and Nelson Mandela, who all dealt with hardship regularly. Reading about the lives of these admirable people can give you hope, as well as perspective about problems that may not be so momentous in the big picture.
In the wake of failure, allow yourself time to grieve and reflect. No one expects you to get back on the horse the next day. Feel what you have to feel, talk with loved ones, gather information. Then, get back to work with a new and improved plan.
To assist their children in building resilience, parents can lend a nonjudgmental ear, offer actionable advice – “I told you so” speeches do not count – and share anecdotes of their own that have a positive outcome. Most importantly, parents can demonstrate resilience in their own lives so that their child have a role model to mirror.