Megan Mulroy, LPC 

Within the past month, colleges and universities across America have been forced to move to online learning platforms due to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This brings a number of unparalleled challenges for college students. Graduation ceremonies have already been cancelled, and some are planning on having a virtual ceremony. Student’s licensing exams have been postponed, and students needing internship hours for graduation are left scrambling for ways to get creative to meet their requirements. Students and parents haphazardly packed up dorms and shuttled back home to get off campuses for the wellbeing of staff, faculty, students, and coaches. Being a student is difficult enough, and coronavirus adds a new set of trials to overcome.  I’ve included some tips here to help with the transition.

Allow yourself to Grieve: Give yourself the permission to grieve the spaces and experiences you no longer have. Whether that be your favorite spot at the library to study, the friends you didn’t get to say goodbye to, or the graduation ceremony you won’t get to participate in.  It’s important to acknowledge that loss. This sadness is sign that these things were important to you, so it’s okay to be upset. 

Make the Most of Virtual Classes: If you are a person who is a visual learner and gets the most out of lectures and in-person discussion, the transition to online classes can be tough. Be open to the fact that online learning may be new to you, and new to your professors. Making mistakes is OK and adjusting to any change takes time.  Be patient with yourself, as well as peers and educators. Acknowledging that online classes won’t be the same as in person learning doesn’t mean they have to be completely different.  Think about some rituals that got you through your 8 AM lecture. Did you work out before? Did you treat yourself to a coffee or pastry during class? Did you call a friend on the way back to your dorm? Do your best to replicate the rituals you had created in the physical class. 

Continue to Socialize (Responsibly!): Staying connected with others is especially important now. Humans are social creatures, and it is important for us to stay close with others. Just because you aren’t physically on campus doesn’t mean you have to stop doing everything you used to enjoy. Similar to online learning, it won’t be the same, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be fun. Continue to plan your club’s events or organization’s parties via Zoom or Skype. It will give you something to look forward to and keep you busy, while also giving you the social interaction that you are craving. 

See the Silver Lining: Winding up back at home or being quarantined in your dorm is not exactly how you imagined your spring semester to play out. With that being said, are there any opportunities for you to be grateful for? There might be more time for family bonding or more time to dedicate to an area of study that you’ve always been interested in. Throw yourself into a passion project and use the new time to explore who you are and what you want from the next few years of college, or what you want post-graduation. 

This is a difficult time to navigate, and with any transition, make sure you are being kind and patient with yourself. In part II of my blog, I speak with my cousin who is in the final year of her Master’s Program. She is studying epidemiology which is the study and analysis of health and diseases. By studying this branch of public health and having COVID-19 top of mind in her studies, she lends an interesting lens on how she is coping though this trying time for students.