As an online student, resilience is going to be one of the most important tools in your academic toolkit. Every time you feel like you will never reach page 12 of that 12-page paper or all the readings you neglected at the beginning of the semester are finally catching up with you, it is resilience that keeps you going.

Though it is such an integral part of learning, resilience is often left out of the discussion of helping students overcome stress and go on to succeed. Perhaps this is because it is a relatively new concept. Nevertheless, recent studies show this concept of adapting in the face of adversity can be used to combat student depression, which continues to increase in Canada, despite the recent spike in media coverage.

Adversity in online learning can stem from factors that are particular to the format. Issues with technology, the extra effort needed to have direct interaction with instructors, and feelings of isolation are common catalysts of stress. So finding ways to increase resilience in students can also help them to battle the added stress that is often associated with online learning.

Fortunately, resilience is a skill that can be developed and there are a few ways you can start fostering it.

  • Keep perspective: Getting a poor grade on a quiz or missing an online post can be distressing. Triage the situation by thinking about other assignments coming up and how you can best prepare yourself for them to avoid the same result. After all, this is one event among many and every future assignment and quiz is a chance to redeem yourself and your grade. If you made a mistake, build a plan to avoid it in the future. Write down what you have decided. Having a clear plan will help in the future and it will help you right now.
  • Create your own social support: Relationships and social support are key to developing resilience. Take advantage of discussion boards and journal reflections to make genuine connections with other students and instructors.
  • Focus on your strengths: Identifying and building on our strengths is one of the easiest ways to garner resilience. After all, resilience starts with nurturing a positive view of yourself and your abilities. Focus on what you have accomplished rather than what you have not.
  • Accept change, embrace adversity: Change and setbacks are a natural and unavoidable part of life. Adopt a resilient perspective by embracing them as a sign of personal and character growth.

For more information on resources Carleton provides, visit Health Services or the Wellness page on the Current Students’ site.

See our first story on cultivating resilience.

By Bianca Chan, BJ 2017 (Carleton)

For more articles, see CUOL’s story archive.