Jan. 26, 2021
Some colleges have officially reopened, some have hybrid schedules, and some are bringing only certain students back to campus. One thing's for certain: nothing is certain! But regardless of what's currently happening on your campus or what may be planned for the future, there are some key things that you can do to get the most of your college experience, even under less than ideal circumstances.
Communication is key for finding support, addressing any issues and feeling connected during times of rapid, unexpected change. If you're struggling to adjust to online learning or don't have the resources to successfully complete an assignment, let your professor know. This may not just be a conversation for faculty either — if you find yourself taking classes from your childhood bedroom, you should speak with your family about arrangements. Setting boundaries, agreeing on expectations, and discussing privacy and independence will help keep the peace.
College might not currently feel like it has in previous years, or, if you're a first-year, as you've seen it depicted in movies or on previous visits to the campus. But one thing remains true: College is what you and your classmates make of it. If in-person activities are limited or cancelled, take the opportunity to try out any new programs being offered remotely, or better yet, see if there's a way to organize your own events so that you can still connect with peers who share your passions. Instead of dwelling on how it should be, make it how you need it to be. And remember: Be kind with yourself and others as you navigate these changes.
Even if you're dialing in, don't phone it in. That is to say, it's never been easier to not be present than when you're not physically present, so work even harder to be there each day. Log in to all of your appointments, be active in group chats, dial in to sponsored events, make an appearance at a seemingly corny get-to-know-you breakout group. The more you participate, the more you'll feel like a part of your college community. If you never show up, you'll feel less included.
Pay attention to your school email and sign up for text alerts if available. Schools have already planned longer breaks, adjusted academic calendars and responded to COVID-19 in various ways, but government regulations, college concerns and CDC recommendations may require further changes. With so much still unknown about the virus, it's vital to stay in the know so that you can remain on top of any updates that might impact your current arrangements.
The pandemic is a number of things — scary, devastating, inconvenient — but it is also temporary. As we take this time to prioritize keeping ourselves and others safe and healthy, consider what the right next steps are for you physically, socially, academically and financially. Above all, remember that COVID-19 doesn't have to stop you from pursuing your dreams.
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