Learning to Thrive: The Invisible Skills That Foster Student Success

January 22, 2020
Washington, DC

About the Symposium
Ask just about anyone on a college campus today and they will tell you the needs of students are changing. But is that because students have changed or because the environment around them has?

Evidence is clear that today’s students are riding a perilous continuum of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and stress more than any other preceding generation. At the same time, the economic and social worlds that students are (and will be) navigating demand ever greater levels of social-emotional intelligence, resilience, coping skills, and connectedness. At no other time has it been more important for higher education to take seriously what it means to “educate the whole student.” To do so, we must illuminate what might be considered the “invisible skills” of intrapersonal and social development that make all the difference—in learning, in work, and in life. 

This Symposium recognizes that all campus stakeholders contribute to student success—from faculty and student affairs professionals to administrators, advisors, and operations staff. Campus educators and practitioners play integral roles in helping students thrive by supporting the skills that lead students to flourish, find purpose, have a sense of belonging, and persist through failure.

Sessions will focus on the latest research and promising practices that can nudge campuses toward holistic goals for student learning and development, programmatic approaches that span the curriculum and co-curriculum, comprehensive assessment, and much-needed conversations about equity. Participants will emerge with new strategies and rationale for equipping students with the skills they need to thrive, and make the invisible visible, in today’s world.

Preliminary Schedule of Events

Opening Welcome
Ashley Finley, Senior Advisor to the President and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Partnerships, AAC&U

Opening Panel
Why Thrive: Making the Case for Intrapersonal and Social Development in Higher Education

Panelists will provide evidence-based insights on why “invisible skills” are critical for economic and workforce development, student success on campuses, and the well-being of communities and individuals.

Morning Concurrent Sessions
Gathering the Evidence

Breakout sessions will engage participants in research-oriented discussions led by campus-based and national experts who have investigated outcomes and topics related to students’ intrapersonal and social development.

Symposium Luncheon—Discussions
Participants will have the opportunity to choose an area of interest for informal conversation over lunch. Table topics will be chosen by participants via a pre-symposium survey.

Afternoon Student Panel
In Our Own Words: What It Means to Thrive

Current college students will provide their perspectives on what it means to thrive on campus, why it matters to them, and what would help them succeed.

Afternoon Concurrent Sessions
Putting Ideas into Practice

Breakout sessions will engage participants in practice-based discussions focused on innovative campus-based programs and models that, for example, span the curriculum and co-curriculum, promote holistic advising, and connect intrapersonal and social development skills with internships and other high-impact practices.