Supporting Students in Times of Uncertainty

Through surveys, focus groups, and countless conversations with staff, students, and instructors at dozens of universities across North America, we have observed that it is when students are going through transitions and/or adversity that their interactions with their college instructors and staff have the biggest impact on their well-being, academic engagement, and outcomes- whether negative, or positive. 

In response to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, which was experienced as a collective period of strain and uncertainty by all members of the higher education community, we developed the following suite of resources to help instructors and administrators support their students during times of crisis. While these resources were initially created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the principles and recommendations included throughout can be applied to other periods of uncertainty or transition.

View: Communicating with Students in Times of Uncertainty

At the request of several of our school partners, the College Transition Collaborative developed a communication guide detailing practical suggestions for how to communicate with students about challenges they may be facing during an individual or collective crisis. Building on our experience as educators and researchers, as well as insights from our work with dozens of colleges around North America, we’ve developed example language and talking points for responding to concerns we know many students are currently facing -- on our own campuses and around the world.

View: Supporting Students in Times of Crisis: Guidance for Instructors

In times of crisis, we must be especially mindful that instructors have enormous influence over students’ broader lives, far beyond the walls of the classroom. Given that structurally disadvantaged students are likely to suffer disproportionately negative impacts of a global health crisis like COVID-19, it is more important than ever that instructors make equity considerations, and students’ psychological experience more broadly, top priorities as we restructure our courses to meet social distancing requirements and as we communicate with students through this unforeseen transition. Here, we draw on multiple sources of evidence to suggest some ways that instructors can support students’ well-being and academic success, and promote equitable outcomes, through this unprecedented challenge. 

View: Supporting Students in Times of Crisis: Guidance for Administrators

It is in times of challenge and stress that the words and actions of front-line staff -- such as academic advisers, student success practitioners, and administrators -- can have their biggest impact on students’ outcomes, including on their well-being and academic success. Here, we draw on our experience to suggest some ways that front-line staff and administrators can support students’ well-being and academic success during unprecedented challenges.

Visit: COVID-19 Response Video Gallery

The COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted nearly all aspects of daily life, for educators, administrators, and their students. In these short video clips, CTC team members describe how they navigated these difficult moments of transition and uncertainty. Topics include: Rethinking work and leadership amid work and life disruptions; maintaining connection and belonging during social isolation; taking a moment to connect with students amid a collective crisis; and helping students and scholars whose plans have been disrupted cope with stress.