For years, Meredith has been helping students identify and build on their strengths as part of its StrongPoints® program. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, that emphasis on strengths has taken on even greater importance.
Every student at Meredith participates in StrongPoints, a personal coaching and advising program. Students first identify their top five strengths during StartStrong pre-orientation sessions held during the summer before they come to campus in the fall. Then, throughout their four years at Meredith, they learn to apply those strengths to their studies, experiences, career planning, and finances.
President Jo Allen, ’80, noted how strengths work can help to build resilience.
“Just knowing one’s strengths is interesting, but not enough,” said Allen. “What is enough is the why of strengths – that we study and develop our strengths, not as an end in itself, but as the foundation for resilience.”
Learning to draw on one’s strengths is critical to successfully meeting challenges, according to Candice Webb, director of StrongPoints.
“The power of your strengths comes from using them. You need to know the tools you have at your disposal,” said Webb. “We want to teach students to reach for their strengths to overcome challenges and build resilience.”
To that end, StrongPoints staff are offering one-on-one strengths coaching and workshops in a virtual format during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One-on-One Strengths Coaching
To help students better understand their strengths and learn how to apply them in particular situations, StrongPoints staff regularly provide one-on-one strengths coaching sessions for students. These sessions are student-driven by design.
“We have two goals for our coaching sessions,” said Webb. “We want them to be able to talk about their strengths in an authentic way, and to have a plan to apply their strengths to a particular situation. It really helps them unpack and understand how to use their strengths.”
Lindsey Norris, ’20, participated in strengths coaching to help her prepare for a mock interview. A social work major who will be attending UNC-Chapel Hill to earn her Master of Social Work, Norris was selected for a highly competitive traineeship as part of her advanced standing program.
“Strengths coaching benefited me professionally, academically, and personally,” said Norris. “I used my strengths in my graduate school applications – I was able to express how my strengths have assisted me throughout my undergraduate studies and have prepared me to navigate graduate school.”
A series of virtual strengths workshops are allowing students to benefit from the group dynamic as they explore a series of strengths-related topics. Workshop topics include finances, team dynamics, communication, and resilience.
During the hour-long sessions, participants engage in 30 minutes of content-driven activities and then spend the second half of the workshop asking questions and discussing the topic with one another. According to Webb, students find value in hearing how their peers respond to various situations, both those with whom they have strengths in common and those with different strengths.
Assistant Director of StrongPoints Beth Hwang, ’13, said the workshops help to build students’ self-knowledge, which in turn contributes to their resilience.
“Part of self-efficacy and self-confidence comes from understanding yourself, and understanding what works for you to be successful,” said Hwang. “Those tools help our students overcome obstacles and be resilient.”