Helping College Students Develop More Grit
While the concept of grit is not new, it has recently emerged as a higher education buzzword, partly due to the research on it done in Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.” Merriam-Webster traditionally defines grit as “resolve” or “courage,” but Duckworth reinterpreted it as “a blend of passion and perseverance for an exceptionally vital goal.” When it comes to higher education, universities and colleges want to understand the resilience or grittiness of their students and the way this characteristic can influence their progress toward completing their degrees. Gaining this knowledge is certainly helpful for institutions because the level of the grit of a student can also impact his/her ability to engage with study materials and professors, as well as self-control.
A student’s grit level can be measured and tested using many different methods. But what can be done if a student’s grit level comes out as less than ideal? A student who lacks grit can exhibit different outcomes, such as taking more years to complete the degree because of changing majors, failing to continue studying to complete the degree, or facing severe difficulty in finding employment even after several months of becoming a graduate. These outcomes are based on students’ inability to keep their commitment to studying and completing their graduation. These are damaging to both the students and the institutions they are enrolled in.
Fortunately, hope isn’t lost! Research has shown that incorporating vocation and purpose exploration into first-year college programming can lead to improved perseverance of students toward completing their degrees, improved job satisfaction, and better quality of life after becoming a graduate. In other words, for students, who join programs that are designed to help them learn how to use their personal values to achieve rewarding careers, the probability of completing their degrees in four years is higher. For students, who know how to shape their values into actions via future careers, the probability of pushing through difficulties in order to achieve an ultimate goal that’s relatable to them is higher.
Their understanding of how to shape their values into actions improves students’ grit or ability to chase a long-term goal passionately. Service-learning activities and internships are also two effective methods that can be used to bolster students’ commitment throughout their college experience. When students identify a clear path that leads to a goal they can relate to, they’ll become more efficient at dealing with setbacks and unforeseen barriers, issues that may otherwise impact their perseverance to complete their degrees on time.