The American Psychological Association defines resilience as the process of adjusting well when faced with life’s challenges and stressors. It is the ability to “bounce back” from a difficult situation, where the person can experience profound personal growth [1]. In general, students require some level of resilience to succeed while meeting responsibilities and challenges in their personal and academic lives. These responsibilities and challenges, in turn, strengthen students’ resiliency [2]. As for learning online, certain factors such as time management and social connection may be more challenging to students’ resiliency [3]. Here are some strategies to cultivate resilience:

1. Maintain a positive perspective

Diverting the focus from distressing situations such as poor grades or missed assignments to how you can best prepare yourself for them to avoid the same result. It is a way to treat a setback as a chance to redeem yourself and your grade.

2. Build stable social supports

Take advantage of discussion boards and journal reflections to make genuine connections with other students and instructors. Focus on building relationships that foster social support.

3. Focus on your strengths

Identify and build your strengths. Resilience starts with nurturing a positive view of yourself and your abilities. Focus on what you have accomplished rather than what you have not.

4. Embrace change and flexibility

Change is inevitable. One simple step to resiliency is to accept that change does occur and that we can be flexible to adopt these changes.

Additional resources:

  • For additional reading, check out a blog post about fostering resilience among university students by Dr. Kim Hellemans from Carleton’s Department of Neuroscience .
  • For more information, explore wellness resources on the Current Students’ site or contact Health and Counselling Services.


[1] American Psychological Association. (2020, February 1). Building your resilience.

[2] Hellemans, K. (2018, January 29). Blog: Fostering resilience among university students. Retrieved May 14, 2020, from

[3] Douce, C. (2018) Resilience, needs, attitudes and blended learning. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning 33:1, pages 1-3.

With contributions from Bianca Chan