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CU Framework for Building Student Resilience

Gannett Health Services
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Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-3101

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In addition to Cornell’s commitment to continually develop an ever more caring community, this Framework for Building Student Resilience synthesizes what is known about the qualities of individuals and systems most associated with human growth, well-being and thriving

It assumes:

  • All individuals possess the capacity to thrive.
  • Thriving is most likely when there are structural supports in place for creating “well-being opportunities.” 
  • Although no human is born with all characteristics associated with thriving, all resilience characteristics can be learned and taught. 

It serves as a platform for the: 

  • Development of a common set of goals and core language that can be applied to programs, systems, and community messages.
  • Design and delivery of resilience and growth-building initiatives across all areas of University life and functioning.
  • Evaluation of efforts to enhance student resilience.


There are four pathways through which students can develop the cognitive, behavioral, motivational, relational and emotional skills and inner qualities to strengthen their resilience.


By making oneself available to assist others, individuals can strengthen personal protective factors to their build resilience. These factors include opportunities that develop: 

  • Pro-social bonding Clear and consistent boundaries;
  • Life skills;
  • Caring and support;
  • Well-defined expectations; and 
  • Meaningful participation

Connectedness to Others

Social Connectedness involves the quality and number of connections one has with other people in a social circle of family, friends and acquaintances. There are seven components that help determine the quality of one’s social connectedness with others:

  • Duration of relationship
  • Frequency of interaction with the other person
  • Knowledge of the other person's goals
  • Physical intimacy or closeness with the other person
  • Self-disclosure to the other person
  • Giving and receiving value, care, trust and respect
  • Social network familiarity—how familiar the other person is with the rest of your social circle 

Connections characterized by these components create conditions in which people feel they matter and belong, and can find meaning in life.


As defined by Merriam Webster, self-reflection is “the careful thought about your own behavior and beliefs.” This conscious thought process allows you to examine without judgment, your character, feelings, motives and desires By taking time to consider what is happening in your life, what is working or not, you can then consider what changes may be needed to achieve personal goals and fulfillment.

Efficacy and Mastery 

This is the extent to which a person generally believes that he or she has personal control over life outcomes. When you do well, you create confidence in your ability to think about and cope with basic life challenges. “Feeling good requires us to feel worthy and to be confident of our right to be happy. In other words, feeling good is a side effect of mastering challenges, overcoming frustrations, and solving problems – that is, of doing well.” (Martin Seligman)