College planning during the Coronavirus: Anti-fragility During a Black Swan Event

By College Advice, College Counseling

It’s too bad that there are so few alive from the Greatest Generation.  Those folks endured The Great Depression and World War II. They embodied Nassim Taleb’s notion of anti-fragility.   Some things are fragile, breaking when hit with a force.  Some things are robust, staying intact when hit with the same force.  And, some things – metaphorically and sometimes literally – are anti-fragile, getting stronger when hit.  From a character perspective, many who went through hardship in the 1930s-1940s ended up being stronger for doing so.

Taleb also coined “Black Swan”, which has been one of the more common terms used to describe the pandemic.  Such unforeseen events change everything not simply due to their magnitude but also due to our lack of preparedness for the unexpected.

Anti-fragility is the antidote for Black Swan events.  Some of those boys who stormed the Normandy beaches and lived to tell about it certainly embody this notion as do our grandparents who learned to stretch ten cents during the Great Depression.

Having had the good fortune of a deep relationship with my grandmother, I understand that “life goes on” as she would say and those who stand frozen in fear are the ones who turn Black Swan events into tragedies.

Here, our children are still moving through high school, still moving towards college, and still, inevitably, heading into adulthood.  Life goes on.

We have been planning vigorously with some of our clients.  College shopping, gap year planning, career exploration, skill development and all other areas designed to make them anti-fragile.

Freeze or move forward.  We all have a choice.