Over the last few years, institutions have heavily invested in providing resilience support to help students succeed on campus. Resilience supports and resources are typically focused on the first year or through the campus counseling center. Progressive institutions recognize the need to scale resilience support beyond the first year and the counseling center to proactively reach students with the guidance they need.
EAB recommends institutions scale support by identifying high-stress moments when students might benefit from proactive resilience support. When students are returning to campus from leave is a key moment for institutions to provide targeted guidance.
Whether coming back after dealing with financial, academic, physical, or mental health hardships, readmitted students often feel heightened pressure to be successful. This pressure can be self-induced, but it also often comes from their peers, families, or even the institution itself. Moreover, the reentry process is rife with stress and anxiety as students navigate new decisions and stressors of re-entering college life.
Most institutions have existing processes to support returning students. These processes can be enhanced with resilience-focused support. Below are two examples of how institutions are proactively weaving resilience into their support for returning students.
Integrate resilience content into coursework or programming for readmitted students
At Ryerson University, successful completion of the 8-week long “Fresh Start” course is required for students seeking readmission to the institution following a leave of absence for academic reasons. The course is designed to help students develop skills that will help them stay on track upon returning to campus.
As part of the Fresh Start course curriculum, students devote one week to learning about resilience strategies to cope with challenges and overcome setbacks. The content is delivered by representatives from ThriveRU, an initiative that provides training and resources to Ryerson students, faculty, and staff in order to teach them the skills associated with resilience, well-being, and thriving in both an academic and personal context. Because the content is adapted from existing supports on campus, it is easy to tailor and deliver to students returning from leave.
Many readmitted students who complete the Fresh Start course go on to take part in ThriveRU’s signature 11-week non-credit course called “Thriving in Action” which helps students further develop coping and resilience skills.
Proactively connect returning students to resources that can help them overcome setbacks
Metropolitan State University Denver’s Roadways Advising Initiative pairs advisors with returning students to help them develop a success plan to navigate the transition back to campus. Through conversations about the success plan, advisors learn more about why the student left campus and what they need to be successful in their return. The advisor helps students navigate roadblocks–especially financial hurdles–and directs them to campus resources and services that will help them be successful and graduate. Advisors commonly connect students with counseling services, academic tutors, and student groups that help increase their engagement on campus.
Advisors weave in messages of resilience throughout their conversations with students. By fostering a personal relationship and brokering early connections to campus services and resources, advisors highlight key resilience strategies and resources returning students will need to achieve degree completion.
How can your campus enhance support for readmitted students?
Resilience and coping skills are essential for all students, especially readmitted students as they navigate the transition of returning to campus life. Use the following questions to identify opportunities on your campus to infuse resilience throughout the readmission process.
- What role does student affairs play in supporting students’ transition back to campus?
- What kinds of challenges do readmitted students face most frequently on your campus?
- How can your campus leverage existing resilience or wellness resources to more directly support returning students?
- What opportunities exist to infuse resilience and coping concepts into the readmission process?
- How can your institution follow-up with readmitted students to keep resilience strategies top-of-mind across the year?