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Academic Resilience: the key to overcoming setbacks

What is academic resilience?

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University can be a stressful time - learning how to build up your resilience can help you cope with change and stress in your university years and beyond.

This guide will help you to build up your resilience and help your wellbeing by directing you to accessible and easy to use resources and services.

  • The library has many books in stock - take a look and see if they appeal to you.
  • There are online courses that can take you through steps to resilience and wellbeing.
  • There are lots of free audio files and apps that can help with mood, meditation, stress and many other issues that can affect your wellbeing.
  • We have sourced workbooks that can give you techniques to deal with issues such as exam stress, anxiety and panic attacks.

What is resilience?

smiling/sad faces on ballsResilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity, to cope with and learn from negative and stressful experiences and to become stronger and more able to cope in the future. It is a trait that can be learned and developed by anyone.


What are the characteristics of a resilient person?

Internal Factors

1. They are resourceful and have good problem-solving skills

2. Self-management, including goal setting and persistence

3. Emotional control: ability not to dwell on negative experiences or over-react to situations

4. They are more likely to seek help                                                                        

5. They hold the belief that they can do something that will help them to manage their feelings and to cope

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

External Factors

1. They have social support available to them

2. They are connected with others, such as family or friends

There are lots of new experiences and opportunities at University, but sometimes this can be overwhelming at first.

New situations and pressures need resilience to deal with and find a solution to worries and problems.

You might be worried about:Worries: person in house

  • making new friends
  • living away from home
  • dealing with new housemates
  • grades and meeting deadlines
  • balancing social, family and study demands
  • living up to others’ expectations
  • finding your way around campus
  • learning to use the library
  • learning new study skills
  • managing part-time work and study
  • worrying about money and debt.

You are not alone and not the only person struggling – lots of other students will feel exactly the same.

Being resilient and seeing setbacks and problems as an opportunity to learn and make positive choices means you can focus your thinking and take control of the situation. Don't forget that you can also draw on all the support and advice offered at Teesside, as well as your own friends and family.

Adapted from: Poole, L. et al (2009) The Leeds Met Book of Resilience. Leeds: Leeds Metropolitan University. Available at: (Accessed: 7 May 2020)

The following Character Lab playbook is very useful in helping to build up academic resilience: