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Our path to student success begins with the development of strengths

An emerging area within higher education is the notion of a strength-based approach to student success. Historically, institutions have focused student development efforts on correcting student deficiencies. However, an emerging research body stresses the importance of changing attention from correcting failures to developing skills. This strength-based approach focuses on the positive outcomes of resilience, meaning, relationships, commitment and general well-being. Modifying the philosophy of student counseling requires a change in the way we approach our students and structure their educational experience, and will require innovations in the next generation of academic and co-curricular offerings.

A strength-based perspective begins with the fundamental assumption that each student has positive skills that must be mobilized so that they can enjoy success in college and outside of college. The question of how to create an educational experience that extracts students' assets from an experience that simply identifies their deficiencies is of paramount importance. First, we must redefine our perspective within higher education. We must move away from a pure selection method that eliminates students who do not fit or do not thrive within our current structures. We must help students discover their own assets and help them apply these assets to positive outcomes defined by personal excellence.

While the principles of strength-based counseling are continually being developed, the starting point is always to help students understand their own strengths and then structure a learning environment that provides opportunities for self-discovery, individual development and intentionality. Application of these strengths. The opportunity for self-discovery should involve communication with students about their own strengths and abilities. This information must be accompanied by an individualized counseling experience integrated in the domains of academic, professional and professional development. In addition, counseling should be done along with continuous and dynamic opportunities to apply these strengths both inside and outside the classroom.

One of our academic advisors shared with me a great example of these principles in action. As a student sent an email, "I would like to start with something that I do not stock in most of the" personality "tests, but I can legitimately see these strengths in me, I am not saying the test itself I could change what I am looking for to specialize, but at least for me it has hit the nail in the head What should be my next step? "

The combination of revealing the strengths of the students, involving them in meaningful exercises in the classroom and combining them with individual counseling appointments leads to a surprising self-discovery and clarity about the best option for the student's academic path. Now, the counselor can take advantage of a portfolio of resources to help the student with experiences that provide the intentional application of these strengths in preparation for their future life and career.

We have learned that many institutions of higher education make the mistake of providing students with assessments of strengths that are not linked to academic counseling, professional services, or other aspects of individualized counseling. The way we structure the opportunity for students to apply their strengths in the co-curricular space helps students establish a meaningful connection between their unique skill set, their academic experience and their professional future. In this sense, global experiences are critical. Traditionally, study abroad has been presented to students as an opportunity for cultural exposure. Under the strengths-based approach, international experiences are an opportunity to further develop their strengths while cultivating a global mindset.

At Pitt Business, we have made a strength-based approach within our academic and career guidance centers. As in other institutions, we use the Clifton StrengthsFinder tool to assess the strengths of all first-year students. Then, we go further with our integrated professional and academic guidance approach, which trains each student through an individual development plan that is discussed. , revised and used as a guide for the progress of the student throughout his four years. Our advice is complemented by a competency-based technology platform called Adecuado, which helps students take advantage of their strengths as they progress through co-curricular opportunities. Based on the analysis of student participation offered by this platform, we can provide individualized feedback to students on how their participation in student clubs, case competitions, professional development activities align with the positive results obtained when they are recognized. , develop and support their strengths. within his undergraduate experience.

Changing a mindset is never easy, but by seeing the development of students through the lens of building strengths rather than correcting failures, higher education institutions are better able to drive the key results of student success. Doing so also helps advance the broader institutional outcomes of better retention of freshmen, higher graduation rates and higher levels of student participation. The path to student success begins with identifying and taking advantage of the often hidden assets of each individual student and providing them with a strength-based educational experience that creates positive academic, professional and life-long well-being

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