Road to College: Building an Adaptable Student

When learning is virtual or hybrid, it’s especially important for students to communicate effectively with educators. (photo by Windows on Unsplash)

Whether it’s universities reversing their original instruction plans, or the daily fluctuations of a hybrid class schedule, today’s students are facing a school year full of constant changes. No matter your student’s current grade level, knowing how to manage these shifts will be key to success. One of the best skills to develop this year — adaptability.  

How can students mitigate the worries and difficulties of the school year to adapt successfully?  

First, communication. This doesn’t mean telling your teacher after that big test that you didn’t understand Chapter 5. That is reactive, helping neither your student nor the teacher address the problem.  


To be effective, communication should be frequent and proactive. Whether in a virtual environment, distanced by screens and uneven audio quality, or in person, muffled by masks, it may be difficult for students to feel truly heard.  

It’s up to your student to reach out to educators with focused questions that resolve potential gaps in understanding, before those gaps affect grades and performance.   

Whether via class participation, email, or video conference, ensuring your child’s concerns are heard and addressed this year may involve interactions on multiple fronts.  

Other important elements of building an effective student include executive functioning skills, like planning, maintaining organization, and self-monitoring how they manage their time.  

Creating clear plans for each day, week, and month, particularly in virtual or hybrid environments where structure may be hard to achieveis essential. By understanding what is expected for a task, and the key steps to complete it, students are better able to set deadlines and goals. That will prepare them to overcome any unforeseen roadblocks outside their control.  

Adaptability isn’t a skill just for today. Admissions officers always seek applicants who demonstrate an aptitude for adjusting to, and thriving in, novel situations.  

Employment websites like Michael Page and LinkedIn rank a candidate’s adaptability as one of the top four marketable skills in the workplace.  

Using the uncertainty of this year as an opportunity for growth and development will have significant implications, not only for your student’s performance and well-being over the next few months, but for future academic and professional success as well.  

Tony Di Giacomo, an educator and founder of Novella Prep.He has 20 years of university experience in admissions, development, teaching, and research. Contact him at 

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About the Author: Tony Di Giacomo, Ph.D.