The coronavirus pandemic has inspired panic and confusion across the higher education landscape, with canceled exams, final performances, and graduation ceremonies. College students have been evicted with little notice. School leaders are scrambling to triage students and accommodate the resources needed. The information available is overwhelming and not always accurate. Here are some actionable steps and advice amidst the chaos.
Many students learned about the campus closures at the same time as administrators, creating a whirlwind of questions with few concrete answers. Be patient, and share resources when possible (but not your vape pens, please). Some students have pooled together to rent storage lockers; others with residences close to campus have offered to store belongings for those from out of state. Many students rely on financial aid and campus resources, and travel costs can be daunting, as can securing consistent meals. This public health crisis has only emphasized the socioeconomic divide in higher education. Some schools are reimbursing student travel costs; others are providing takeout meals. Keep communicating with school officials for updates on everything from health care to dining halls and shelter. Stay informed of recommended safety measures while you adjust to the unknowns of these closed campuses.
Learning from home (or a friend’s couch)
Institutions have moved their courses online. Most universities have offered virtual coursework and degree programs for years, so students can expect an effective substitute for their on-site academic counterparts. But without the desks and equipment, and with the sudden flexibility, especially if you’re easily distracted or rely on more kinesthetic classroom experiences, virtual learning can create barriers. It’s important to cultivate a learning space and engage in the online class discussion. Print off slides and lectures. Take notes during presentations. Develop virtual classroom strategies that will keep you accountable. And, just like you would on campus, leave the hard seltzer in the fridge until after class.
Making it a staycation
Spring break is looking a whole lot different this year. Instead of packing bikinis and sunblock, college students around the United States are preparing for a long-term hiatus at home (if a home is available). Having wrapped up midterm season, you deserve a break. Get creative with the resources you have. Look up some at-home face mask recipes. Give yourself a luxurious pedicure. Pick up a book you’ve been eager to read. Take a walk around the neighborhood or at a local park. Find ways to enjoy the break in your routine.
It may sound redundant at this point, but amidst the stress and the unknowns, make sure to take care of yourself. Take your time cooking healthful meals, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice as you wash your hands. There’s still a very real risk for the regular flu and sinus infections, and the clinic is the last place you want to be right now.
Many students rely on universities for safe shelter, social stability, meals, and mental health support. Help one another. Make time to call and check in on your friends. Share your own tips and tricks as you navigate the next few weeks. The campus community shouldn’t suffer just because you’re not on campus.