Summary: When they begin college or university, students may face significant stressors on their own for the first time. This resource can help them plan ahead so they are better able to cope with the personal and academic stressors they may encounter.

Students can move from merely surviving their post-secondary experience to actually thriving. This resource can help them build resilience and minimize the negative impact from stressful situations.

Whether students complete this on their own, with their parents or friends, or as part of a school initiative, it can allow them to reflect on potential and actual stressors and choose healthy coping strategies to deal with them.

From Surviving to Thriving is not intended as a medical or mental health intervention. If the student is currently experiencing significant challenges, they should reach out for support:

Consider contacting a health care professional, the school’s student services, or Crisis Services Canada: 1 833 456 4566. For residents of Quebec only, please call Services de Crises du Canada: 1 866 277 3553.

Download From Surviving to Thriving: Developing Personal and Academic Resilience

From Surviving to Thriving is inspired by research on resilience and has been improved through feedback received by researchers, educators, students, and mental health professionals.

This resource was originally developed based on the evidence in the citations below. As part of our due diligence, the resource was analyzed by McMaster University in late 2017. The results of that analysis were incorporated into a new version, which then underwent a pilot program evaluation at Queen’s University, completed in early 2019. Read More


Holt-Lunstad, Julianne; Robles, Theodore F.; Sbarra, David A. Advancing social connection as a public health priority in the United States. American Psychologist, Vol 72(6), Sep 2017, 517-530. Retrieved from

Holt-Lunstad, Julianne; Smith, Timothy B.; Baker, Mark; Harris, Tyler; Stephenson, David (2015); Loneliness and Social Isolation as Risk Factors for Mortality: A Meta-Analytic Review, Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol 10, Issue 2, pp. 227 – 237. Retrieved from

Marcotte, Diane; Villatte, Aude; Potvin, Alexandra. Resilience Factors in Students Presenting Depressive Symptoms during the Post-secondary School Transition. Elsevier, 23 December 2014, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Retrieved from

Mayo Clinic Staff (2016). Need Stress Relief? Try the 4 A’s. Retrieved from

McCormick, Melinda (2016). Bullying Experiences and Resilience in LGBTQ Youth. Dissertations. 2473. Retrieved from

O'Connor, RC. (2011). Towards an integrated motivational–volitional model of suicidal behaviour. In Int. handbook of suicide prevention: research, policy and practice (eds O'Connor, RC; Platt, S; Gordon, J), pp. 181–198. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Schutte, N.S., Malouff, J.M. The Impact of Signature Character Strengths Interventions: A Meta-analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies (2018). Retrieved from

Wong, Andrew H. C.; Yohani, Sophie, An Exploratory Study of Resilience in Postsecondary Refugee Students Living in Canada. Canadian Journal of Counselling & Psychotherapy / Revue Canadienne de Counseling et de Psychothérapie. 2016 Supplement, Vol. 50, pS175-S192. 18p. Retrieved from