Failure

There have been a number of occasions in recent weeks where the discussion has turned to the high-achieving nature of our students, and how hard it is for many of them to experience disappointment. Most of our students arrive on campus already incredibly accomplished, having done very well in high school and typically succeeding at everything they do. And they expect that win streak to continue unbroken.

Inevitably, there will be a time for our students where things don’t come so easily. It could be a class your student is struggling in, it could be a social disappointment (recruitment comes to mind), not getting an interview callback, etc. For students who normally do well, they can have trouble dealing with the first time they feel they have failed or suffered a setback.

And while as adults we all know that failures happen to the best of us, and they provide us teachable moments, it is a lot harder to process that at 18 or 19 or even 21. Some food for thought for your interactions with your students over the summer: talk about a time you failed in something. And how you got through it, what you learned, how it did not break you permanently. Your students may not have any idea that you had struggled at some point, and it could be liberating to them to know you’ve experienced it too. It might also make them more likely to talk to you if they have a time of struggle.

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