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.


Moving out

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.

Maintaining hygiene

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.

Spring Break 2020 was a pivotal moment in higher education history. Upon learning about the rapidly spreading coronavirus, schools around the world shut down their campuses — many while students were still on spring break. College students abruptly went home and began navigating a world of remote learning.

A year later, schools still struggle to mitigate COVID-19 spread, and students are itching for the sunshine. As temperatures rise throughout the United States, what can you expect for Spring Break 2021?


Spring break canceled

The main approach that many universities have taken is simple: Spring Break 2021 is canceled. Some university officials chose to eliminate the vacation entirely to stop students from traveling during the annual academic respite. But spring break hotspots, like Miami Beach, are seeing a massive turnout of college spring breakers nonetheless.

With most of their classes over Zoom anyway, students complete coursework using their hotel’s WiFi and then heading out to the beach. While it’s easy to understand indulgent behavior after a very challenging year, reports suggest that students disregard COVID-19 safety precautions: skipping masks and overfilling hotel rooms. Public health officials warn against potential spikes on campus once students return.

Incentivized staycations

Some institutions are trying a different approach. Rather than canceling spring break, UC Davis is offering students money to stay in town for their spring break. Students are experiencing a challenging year, and a few days off from the stress of assignments and midterms are no doubt needed.

Leaving campus to vacation is the bigger concern, as increased travel coincides with increased virus spread. Awarding some extra cash to stay close to home not only boosts the local economy, but also incentivizes students to stay nearby while still getting some needed self-care.

Match your mask to your swimsuit

Whether your school is actually observing spring break or not, there are a couple of precautions students should take. If possible, get your flu vaccine, and if available, your COVID-19 vaccine. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Don’t share your drinks. Try to social distance. If you decide to travel and socialize, make sure to quarantine upon returning to campus to eliminate virus spread. If you’re feeling any symptoms at all, get tested.

Be creative with your spring break. Try camping instead of overfilling vacation rentals. Hit the beach but not the bar. There are plenty of creative ways to celebrate the season and keep campus safe.

With college back in session during COVID-19, maybe things aren’t quite what you expected. Are you locked down in your dorm room staring at a screen instead of going to classes? Locked in your dorm room at night instead of going out with your friends? Wearing a mask all day, and worried if you have to cough or sneeze in public? Yes the 2020 fall term is unlike any other in recent history, and might have you questioning even staying in school this semester. So you might ask yourself, can I get a refund for my tuition and other expenses?



Tuition and Room and Board Policies

When it comes to tuition refunds, typically the earlier you withdraw the more money you get back. The refunds are offered on a sliding scale, so the longer you stay enrolled the less you will get back. If the campus stays open you probably won’t get anything back for your room and board so consider that as well. If there is an outbreak at your campus and your school goes remote, you won’t get a break on your tuition or room and board either. If your campus totally shuts down and students are sent home, then you can probably get a refund of your room and board. Colleges and Universities are in a financial bind this year as well, and they depend on tuition to stay open. So while they are unlikely to offer refunds, it can’t hurt to ask for a discount if you do go remote only.

What can you do?

You should contact your school to find out what is their shutdown contingency plan. If your state or county has strict guidelines, the college has to follow these so the chance are higher that they will have to close. On the other hand, some states have more lenient policies so a lot of it depends on where you go to school.

Once you know your school’s closing criteria, depending if it is a switch to remote only / lockdown or a complete campus closure with students sent home your backup plans should take that into account. If you go to remote only, you can ask the school about a refund or discount tuition for remote only. If there is a closure, besides the tuition break you should ask for a refund for your room and board, and have a backup housing plan.

The Higher Ed Model is questioned

No matter what, the COVID 19 pandemic is forcing a rethinking of the higher education model. Students feel let down, with high tuition bills, remote classes, and trapped in their dorms. The higher ed model in the US and the UK is unsustainable and it remains to be seen how higher ed will look after going through the pandemic crisis.

It is the ultimate cliche this year, but we really live in unprecedented times and there has never been a college semester like fall 2020. The news really comes fast and furious these days, so in an effort to bring you up to date on some of the noteworthy headlines we compiled a list of articles and subjects that really stand out.

Infections on campus before classes start

Classes have barely begun and already there are some campus outbreaks. While this might seem worrisome, the vast majority of infected college students are ok. The risk is spreading the disease to others, especially faculty, staff, parents, and grandparents.

There are actions you can take to minimize your risk of getting infected or spreading infection. Of course you already know to wear a mask, wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, and practice social distancing. Of course that’s easier said than done on a college campus, if you can avoid crowded indoor areas like house parties, bars, and restaurants, that will go a long way to preventing the spread of COVID 19.

Colleges are doing what they can to minimize infections risks and with some basic common sense you can too.

Tuition Discounts and Corona Fees

One positive aspect of the pandemic is you might be able to get a tuition discount. These colleges are offering tuition discounts. The flip side is some schools are actually adding coronavirus fees to their tuition bills. Be sure to ask your school if they offer discounts for remote learning, and if they are adding extra fees for the pandemic. It can’t hurt to ask for a tuition discount, or to waive any coronavirus fees.

Remote vs in person

There has been a lot of controversy regarding on campus and distance learning. Depending on what year you are and what your major is, as well as your personal health situation and your proximity to high risk individuals, sometimes distance learning might make sense. Other times on campus learning in an outdoor socially distanced environment might make sense. Some students are even living in hotel rooms to maintain social distance outside of a crowded dorm setting while having the option of attending on campus class when available, and a quiet space for distance learning.

Collect Unemployment

Did you know you might be eligible to collect unemployment? Yes some students are collecting unemployment while attending school. You might be eligible, and if you are it’s a great supplemental income source for you while you focus on your studies.

College Football is Out

It’s a sign of the enduring pandemic that college football is mostly out, like any other team spectator sport. Hopefully this serves as an inspiration for us all to wear our masks and be smart so that we can help defeat the dreaded COVID 19. This will pass and one day and when we eventually do get back to normal it will make us appreciate things all the more.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is devastating lives, livelihoods, and personal, business, and government finances around the world. Unfortunately the American higher education market hasn’t escaped this economic destruction either. College and Universities are facing a perfect storm of reduced enrollments, reduced endowments, and increased expenses all at the same time.

No longer Recession Proof

Higher education typically has been considered a “recession proof “ industry, with students going to school regardless of economic conditions and in fact enrolling in higher numbers during recessions in order to ride out bad job markets and improve their skills. During the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic, American colleges and universities responded with quarantines and masks much like today. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in modern history forcing colleges and universities to suspend classes while faculty and students fear catching the virus on campus. This in turn is leading to lower tuition and dormitory revenues, and increased costs due to more stringent cleaning, more personal protective equipment for faculty, staff, and students, increased healthcare screening and staff, and lower capacity due to social distancing.

Reduced Funding

In addition to lower revenues, public colleges also are facing the potential of reduced state funding due to decreasing state tax revenues. Loss of lucrative international students due to travel restrictions and a hostile domestic political environment further undermines the school’s finances. This would force schools to increase tuition and student debt would soon follow. (So now might be a good time to question a liberal arts degree and possibly pursue a more marketable / lucrative degree). Private colleges, even those with decent endowments, are also facing financing pressures due to declining enrollment and there is the potential that some colleges might close.

Layoffs and Cost Cutting

Schools are also responding by laying off faculty and staff, including the University of Akron, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Ohio University. They are also putting construction projects on hold, and freezing hire and raises. These are drastic measures and if the fall semester suffers from 15% or more enrollment drops as experts predict, then many schools will not survive in their current form and might end up closing or becoming a satellite campus.

America will get through the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but the future of American Higher Education will look very different than it does today.

The fall 2020 semester is going to be unlike any that has happened in modern history. With the covid 19 pandemic surging again, it’s now questionable whether or not classes will be held on campus. It’s looking increasingly likely that next year will be conducted through either a hybrid model of on campus and remote learning, or remote learning only.

Freshman or Upperclassman

As a student, these are unsettling times but know that you are not alone. Everyone is in the same boat. If you are an incoming freshman, you are actually in a good position since you have more options. With all of the uncertainty, it might make sense to take a gap year and let this blow over and start your college experience in the fall of 2021. If you are an upperclassmen, then a gap year really isn’t an option and your choices are whether or not to continue your education in person, remotely, or a hybrid model. It’s probably not a good idea to drop out of school because of the pandemic, as that could have a lifelong effect on your career and earnings.

In Class?

Depending on your school, in class learning might not even be an option at all. For example, the entire California State University system will not be holding in class learning in the fall 2020. Other schools such as the University of California system will offer limited in class learning. If your school does offer in class learning as an option, there are other factors to consider before choosing this option. Even though your school might allow it, some professors are revolting against teaching in person classes. If there is a local outbreak on your campus in the fall, then classes might quickly have to transition online. On top of all that, any in class experience will have to conform to all the latest CDC guidelines including masks, social distancing, hand washing etc. So while there are actions you can take to prevent getting sick, even if you are allowed to go to live classes it will be a very different and tenuous situation.

Remote and Hybrid

Remote and Hybrid learning looks like the most likely learning models this year, and with remote learning although it is far from perfect at least you don’t have to worry about your class being cancelled. If you can choose a hybrid model with some in person learning and some remote learning, this seems like a good option as it reduces the chance of encountering or spreading the virus, and also is more flexible in case the in class learning has to be shut down.

The bottom line is it’s going to be a difficult year for everyone, just remember this will pass at some point and make smart decisions for your future and in consideration of your community so that you can continue your education while helping to minimize the spread of covid 19.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has sent college students into a world of the unknown. As you were kicked out of your dorm room, you may have been wondering where you would land and how you would get there. Campuses were scrambling to close and all of the money you invested in tuition and fees was hanging in the balance. Now that the dust is settling, you may be wondering how you can recoup some of your costs. After all, you paid for an entire semester of on-campus living and learning.


Ask for a full refund

Begin by asking for a full refund. You may not be successful, but it’s not a bad starting place to make your case for reparations. Keep in mind that most college campuses took a financial hit during the pandemic. Facilities and payroll had to be maintained, and many institutions had to spend additional money to provide technical assistance for remote learning. At the same time, you paid for something you didn’t get, so asking for a refund is not out of line.

Negotiate a partial refund

Create a list of the additional expenses you incurred as a result of having to abandon your residential experience. Include travel expenses, new housing, food costs, technology needs, and anything else that would have been provided on campus. Write a letter to your campus and ask for a partial refund to cover the expenses you have incurred. Discuss the hardships you have experienced, as you have had to restart your life without the necessary resources.

Take collective action

If your campus isn’t responsive to your requests, use your voice and harness the power of student action with a formal request for a refund. Students across the country have created petitions and have even filed lawsuits demanding the return of unused activity fees and tuition. Colleges are dependent upon students returning in the fall, so leverage this to yield even a partial refund of your tuition and fees.

Seek credit for future classes

In addition to a refund of tuition and fees, consider asking for a scholarship or grant that can be used toward classes you’ll take in the fall. The federal government allocated $14 billion in aid for higher education. Some of this funding must be used for direct aid to students. If your college is reticent to offering you cash now, you may be able to negotiate a free or partially free semester of college tuition to be used in the future. Exercise all of your options as you look for a way to get something back for what you had to endure.

As we head back to school after our spring break in quarantine, or Coronavacation, we have to adjust to the new normal, which for the time being appears to be online learning. It’s important to stay focused and not lose sight of your degree in these unfamiliar times. Here are a couple of tips to help make online learning work for you:

1) LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Set up a space to work. Preferably one that is quiet and where you are sitting upright. Trying to take online classes on your bed could result in an unexpected nap. Make sure your space has all of your materials ready to go. On average it takes 23 minutes to refocus once your work is interrupted. That means set that phone and social media aside during work time!

2) CREATE A ROUTINE, TO-DO LIST

Some classes will be in real time, but others will let you set your own pace and it’s easy to get off track. Create a weekly to-do list, giving yourself tasks everyday. Make sure you have due dates on a calendar or set up on an alert system on your phone.

3) CREATE AN ONLINE STUDY GROUP

One big drawback of this new way of life is the lack of human contact! Exchanging ideas, notes, and even a laugh or two can liven up learning. Create a Zoom study group and watch your mood lift. Smiling can actually trick your brain into happiness and even boost your immune system. Hey even a fake smile can reduce stress and lower your heart rate so if you can’t meet with classmates give yourself a few smiles in the mirror each day.

4) SCHEDULE SELF CARE TIME

Self care may be one of the most missed aspects of college life. You need to take care of yourself or nothing else will go smoothly. It’s ok to stop and rest. Browsing social media may sound like a great free time activity, but it can often lead to more stress, comparisons, or negative feelings. Self care time should be free of that. Positive examples may be: a hot bubble bath, binge watching your favorite show, cooking yourself a healthy dinner, calling your best friend, reading a non-school book, even taking a shower and putting on clean clothes.

5) ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT

Lastly, ask for help when you need it. Whether that’s asking your teacher about computer problems (remember teachers are learning this new system too) or asking for help because this new life situation has caused you stress or anxiety. There is nothing to be ashamed of there, we are all feeling out of place… even though we are right at home.

You’ve heard your fair share of college-health adages: “Avoid the freshmen 15,” “Don’t accept drinks from strangers,” “Wear protection!” Nonetheless, as new viruses evolve and old ones reemerge, adopting good hygiene is essential to preventing sickness in college. Of course, in 2020 the novel coronavirus is a new disease that is spreading rapidly around the world. In 2019, universities in New York, New Jersey, and California saw outbreaks of meningitis, prompting states to reevaluate mandatory vaccinations for incoming students. In 2018, Dartmouth and Johns Hopkins both battled multiple cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease on campus.

In England, mumps cases have reached their highest in a decade. There are plenty of basic precautions you can take — make sure you wash your hands and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. And use hand sanitizer often, especially if you’ve interacted with others who are sick. In particular, dormitories, with their high student populations and shared resources, provide a perfect home for all sorts of nasty germs. Masks are generally unnecessary, unless you are sick they help prevent the spread of germ droplets when you cough or sneeze. So, in between classes, clubs, football games, and parties, dedicate some time for dorm room cleanliness. Below are some of the top — and often neglected — tips.

Laundry Day

A recent study revealed that male-populated rooms have six times the number of bacteria as their female counterparts. Moreover, the germiest hotspots in the average male dorm room are the bedsheets. Mom doesn’t live on campus, gentlemen. Washing sheets, pillowcases, and other machine-washable bed linens will make a major hygienic impact on your everyday life. Most institutions offer affordable, large-scale washers and dryers on campus, typically within each dormitory. If not, local laundromats aren’t too far. Best practice suggests washing linens once a week.

Lose Last Season’s Lipstick

Old makeup, not to mention the brushes and accessories, hosts all kinds of bacteria. Take care to wash makeup applicators and brushes — those fibers and sponges are porous, which keeps bacteria lodged in them. Replace makeup every few months. And while your roommate’s glitter lip gloss may intrigue you, avoid sharing makeup. Generally, bathroom items, whether makeup, toothbrushes, loofahs, or hair accessories, should be replaced more frequently than you might think!

Sanitize Everything

Think bathroom doorknobs, desks, iPhones, keyboards, you name it. Whether you have roommates or frequent guests, sanitizing shared surfaces is essential to maintaining good dorm health. Clean thoroughly and often. Keep an eye out for mold in the bathroom or other moist spaces.

Flip Your Mattress

You may wish to avoid the thought, but you’re likely not the first student to sleep on that dorm mattress. While popular memory-foam mattresses today are meant for one orientation, traditional spring mattresses require a 180-degree flip a few times a year. In warmer climates especially, this is important to prevent mold and increase airflow.

Take Out the Trash

It’s one of the worst chores, but also one of the most imperative. Garbage is a magnet for bacteria-carrying insects, like roaches and flies. Most institutions have trash and recycling centers in or nearby dorms. Dorm rooms are small enough as it is. Avoid the smell and the bugs and take out your trash at least once a week.

By following these simple personal hygiene and etiquette tips, you could save yourself alot of hassle by staying healthy and preventing diseases from spreading on campus.