January 20, 2023
VP@SEWB Newsletter: Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit and Reframing Grades

Aloha Yellow Jackets,
Best wishes to you and yours as we celebrate the Lunar New Year and welcome a new semester! #YearoftheRabbit I hope you took some time off over Winter Break to sustain or adopt habits to support your wellness that you can now maintain throughout the Spring. In this issue of our monthly newsletter, we will cover the following topics: 

We continue to discuss one wellness dimension per month this academic year. January focus is on Occupational (Career) Wellness. Last month I introduced you to Financial Wellness, one of the Eight Dimensions outlined in the Cultivate Well-Being Action & Transformation Roadmap. Each dimension of wellness offers you a chance to reflect and identify incremental ways to adjust your self-care habits that can produce significant impacts in your life.

Reframing Grades 
Many of you may have spent the Winter Break pondering the grades you received from Fall term. I imagine there were at least two prevailing thought processes: (a) you celebrated, as the grades you earned seemingly reflected the personal investment of energy and effort you devoted towards your academic courses, or (b) you experienced regret, wondering if perhaps more time studying would have served better than binging one more Netflix show. Accordingly, some of you may also have feelings of gratitude or anger towards the instructors who submitted those grades. All of these sentiments potentially reflect some measure of cognitive distortion.
Regardless, when thinking about your personal well-being, it’s important that we do not conflate one’s grades with one’s worth and value as a human being. This is not to say that grades are not important; rather, finding an appropriate perspective on the meaning of one grade – or even one transcript - against the context of an entire life lived is critical to fostering emotional and intellectual wellness. 
In college and in graduate school, grades are not a measure of your effort; rather, grades recognize successful learning, mastery of knowledge or skills, and excellence in performance. Sometimes, grades are simply a reflection of some good or bad luck. As such, a grade is simply a snapshot in time of your academic capacities measured against one set of standards established by a given instructor. It is not a reflection of who you fundamentally are – your life experiences, your character, your contributions to the world. While good grades can be a source of pride, a way to honor your family, or the path to a scholarship or internship, from personal and observed experiences, grades that fall short of your hopes (or expectations) can be a catalyst for positive change – an opportunity to reconsider your priorities.  
I remember how I felt when I failed in a math class during my first year in college. I was ashamed, and I was terrified that I had let my parents down. Yet, that failing grade also helped me realize that I was dreading pursuing a path to medical school! By allowing myself to shut that door, I began to look through windows and eventually found my life’s passion: becoming an educator, a public health professional, and an advocate for equity and inclusion.
According to psychologist, author, and speaker Adam Grant, “No matter how high you climb or how much you earn, if you aren't proud of how you got there, you haven't succeeded. Status is a reward for the result. Character is revealed by the process.” Although grades can be a useful assessment of your growth and learning in college, it is also sometimes an unfair and incomplete measurement of your journey and what you have accomplished along the way.
As you work through this Spring semester, I hope you recognize that the journey (whether difficult or joyful) deserves recognition as much as the final score. And if we can help you along the way, remember that asking for help is sometimes more powerful than succeeding without it.

Understanding the Value of Institutional Surveys
The Division of Student Engagement & Well-Being is running two institutional surveys this Spring: the Healthy Minds Survey and the National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE). These nationally-derived assessments are administered to higher education students across the US to better understand your thoughts, feelings, needs and perceptions. Your participation is vital to assess our current programs and services, as well as to inform future planning; the results, which are highly valid, also allow us to benchmark ourselves against other campuses 
When you have projects to complete, tests to prepare for, classes to attend and social activities to take advantage of, completing an Institute survey may be the last thing you want to do - and I understand that. I ask for your assistance to ensure that GT can best respond to the needs of students today and tomorrow. The Cultivate Well-Being Roadmap was informed in large part by student data. So, please keep an eye out for the invitation (via email) and consider participating. Your opinions can definitely help to make a difference!

Introducing the Students’ Right to Know (SRTK) Webpage
As a result of the Student Right-To-Know and Campus Security Act, every institution that participates in any Higher Education Act Title IV federal program and which is attended by students receiving athletic student aid is required to disclose information about a wide range of policies and student outcomes to prospective and enrolled students, parents, and employees. Georgia Tech has always publicized this information across multiple sites. We have now collated all of them into an easy to navigate webpage for convenient access and improved transparency. Data and policies will be updated as required. Please feel free to bookmark this resource, which is hosted on our Division website.
Go Jackets!

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Dr. Luoluo Hong
Vice President for Student Engagement & Well‐Being