Resonant Relationships in the Viral Age

Lockdown and distance learning are teaching us a fundamentally different way of having a relationship. Like our students, we’ve had to be flexible. Life online requires greater focus and diligence, but by sticking to our approach of being very intentional about the time we spend with our students, we have been able to keep our relationships healthy and productive. The success of our students during the pandemic demonstrates that our model still works in the context of remote delivery.

Focus Collegiate founder Grant Leibersberger admits, “I was not a believer in digital delivery except as an auxiliary to the in-person relationships our team creates with students. Now that distance learning has become our primary delivery model, I’m happy to stand corrected. It is time to accept that this stream of support will continue to be a significant part of our services.”

He adds the caveat, “That all of our services must be online is not ideal, but it is working for our students…The world still has to move. We still have to grow.” For Focus Collegiate students that growth is dependent upon engagement in a resonant relationship in which the student feels heard, understood, and respected.

Building that foundation is an interactive, iterative, and responsive process based on regular dialogue, empathic listening, and collaboration. Working collaboratively in supportive trust-based relationships activates parts of the brain associated with openness to new ideas and social orientation – which is particularly important in an all-online environment.

We start by treating students as adults from the beginning. We give them a say in what works and what doesn’t. Such mutual respect is mission critical to not only developing trust, but also to the transparency necessary for accurate self-reporting. Good self-reporting leads to more appropriately individualized support which leads to better outcomes. It’s a cyclical process in which the student has a vested interest.

Our Summer Cohort jumpstarts the process in a four-week intensive where students participate in mock interdisciplinary classes designed to assess and enrich their existing skills. Skills building is accompanied by relationships building. In the Summer Cohort, students will get to know and eventually come to trust the college life coordinators and learning specialists they’ll be working with during the academic year. Whether this foundation starts online, or in-person remains to be determined. Again, we have to stay flexible.

Our students want to excel on their own; they want to prove their independence. Given enough support to encourage and empower, but not so much as to overwhelm and overtake, they will continue to excel and gain independence in the virtual world and the literal one.

Our program is now available Virtually and in the greater Boston area!

Focus Collegiate provides innovative hands-on coaching for college students with learning differences, on campus and Virtually across the country.

College-bound with questions?