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Resilience? Resiliency? Just Keep Going

My recent pet peeve is the regular use of the term “resiliency” for “resilience.” Why was it necessary to switch to a longer noun instead of continuing to use a perfectly good one? What’s funny is that hearing “resiliency” causes people to think it’s the more correct choice, as I suspect many high school students do when they write “highschool” in their essays.

Language has always evolved. There’s the story about the widespread scorning of presidential candidate Warren G. Harding’s “Return to Normalcy” campaign slogan. “Normal” was fine, so why did “normalcy” have to be invented (people called out these aberrations more in 1920 than they do today)? Eventually, “normalcy” took root, and was a mainstay of Dr. Fauci’s pandemic speeches a century later.

We too evolve and adapt to the “new normal.” Colleges that looked like “targets” have become “possibles.” Some institutions, even for our high flyers, have become “unlikelies” because of the barrage of qualified applicants. How do we predict and move forward?

Coping with today’s reality means regularly comforting my strongest ED applicants if they are deferred to the RD pool. (The “fairness” conversation is irrelevant because higher ed was never fair.) But this week, I was thrilled when a deferred student, after getting “yeses” from nearly every other college on her list (some with large scholarships), was admitted to her ED college from the hyper-selective RD pool. After a stressful ride on the “rejection>maybe there’s a chance but RD is way more selective >acceptance” rollercoaster, her wish came true.

Her list was solid, and she would have been a standout at every other college if “institutional priorities” at her ED college hadn’t worked out in her favor. Despite the initial disappointment, her resilience helped keep the denial (I never say rejection) in perspective. She was always qualified, and she will always go beyond expectations. It’s the student, not the college, that matters in the long run.

It turns out that “resiliency” has existed in the English language as long as “resilience” but it was used less frequently in our part of the world. I will continue to correct “highschool” however.

Like language? Read below.


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