2020 was a major year of change that no one saw coming; it produced enough challenges physically, socially, economically, and educationally to accurately be titled as a notable period of immense hardship and infamy. As the world-altering COVID-19 pandemic surged across the globe, jobs, businesses, schools, and entire countries were required to shut down in order to dissect and tame the foreign silent, yet lethal enemy. Now, with three vaccines nationally accessible to people aged 16 and older, and soon, younger children, COVID restrictions are loosening and the economy is steadily reopening.
Specifically, as a college student, switching from an in-person to an all-virtual environment was not an easy transition. Despite staying home, the process of unlearning takes place, causing students to feel a strong sense of bewilderment. Teaching methods are revised, more distractions are in arms-reach, information is harder to retain, and you just get comfortable. Maybe a little too comfortable. It can almost feel as if you are on a prolonged vacation, struggling to get into “school mode.” But as we slowly ease back into a degree of normalcy, school is beginning to reopen in its entirety and another transition is bound to happen. Here is a guide to help you ease back into on-campus life:
1. Remember you are not alone.
Across the globe, there are millions of other college students who are questioning themselves about the possibilities of returning back to the classroom. Will I be able to keep up with the material? Will I be able to focus properly? Will this be more stressful? All of those questions are realistic and valid and remembering you are not the only individual experiencing those intrusive thoughts may put them at ease a little more. Physically connecting with your friends again or forming a support group can be an effective reminder that there are others who may relate to your feverish emotions as well as others who missed your presence.
2. Meet up with your professors/advisor(s) ahead of time.
Emailing and scheduling a time to meet with your academic advisor or professors to express your feelings of uncertainty and discuss the upcoming semester’s curriculum is a great way to ease some anxieties about returning to campus. Some topics can include talking about being/staying home, some of the struggles you have faced with online learning, new methods/approaches to readapt, the new hobbies you learned while in quarantine, etc. Whether you have already taken a class with the professor or they happen to be a new teacher, starting to build a relationship and connect with them outside of the classroom can provide a sense of assurance and might even grant you a head start on what to anticipate for the school year. With your academic advisor, make sure to figure out a game plan on how to approach the course according to the professor’s syllabus and expectations.
3. Talk with your school’s counselor.
Carve out a time to chat with your school’s counselor as a de-stressor. After all, your counselor will already likely be aware of the uneasiness students are facing after transitioning from the comfort of their homes back to a university setting. Use the hourly conversation as a tool to release your bombarding intrusive thoughts and write down key notes if anything specifically stands out to you. Writing down any advice given to you in a journal to navigate a changing environment can be used as a physical reminder to just remember to breathe. Use the notes as mantras and repeat them in the mirror when needed to refocus your thoughts on something positive. Schedule a weekly meeting if necessary!
4. Hang out with your friends.
Have a small get-together. Attend social events and club gatherings. Grab some lunch. Host a group study session. Go to the game room. Either way, your friends miss you! Reconnecting, catching up, and hanging out with them is an easy (and faster) way to readjust to campus life again. What is college without your college friends?
5. Scope out the 411.
What’s new on campus? What’s changed? What has stayed the same? Have you? Are there any new clubs or organizations that interest you that you may want to join? Did they finally add that new Chick-fil-A that they promised last year in the café while you were away? Nevertheless, the unexpected quarantine period might have caused you to emerge from the time period as another person, or in some cases, stay the same. Do not be afraid to explore new ventures or learn to become more involved in former associations. Regardless, challenge yourself to try something that scares you.
By Fallon Brannon. From Uloop.com, Online Marketplace for College Life.