What Will Fall Semester at College Look Like During COVID-19?
As the newness of the pandemic starts to wear off, fresh questions have slowly begun to pop up regarding how we, as a society, can proceed with our lives going forward. This is especially true for college campuses, as students are eager to get back to their lives away from home and aching to see their friends. Anxious freshmen are waiting in the wings to get their first taste of college, an experience that now may not even happen.
One thing we can all share is the consistent feeling of uncertainty. College life is in constant flux and has a million moving parts—there are thousands of different things you can do with your college experience, and no two experiences are the same. However, the pandemic has thrown a wrench into everyone’s plans.
Nick Camposano, a rising sophomore at Duke University, has had to completely rearrange his living situation for next year. A member of a student living group, Nick now will not be allowed to live in his group’s section of the dorms. “I’m just worried about the effect this will have on the community I was hoping to be a part of in the fall,” Nick said.
Besides the obvious inconvenience of having to locate new housing, Caroline anticipates that the community spirit of the organization may suffer due to the distancing being put in place
Caroline Burnett, a rising sophomore at Northwestern University, has concerns similar to Nick’s. There are rumors that her sorority will transition to single occupancy, which means half the house will need to find another place to live. Besides the obvious inconvenience of having to locate new housing, Caroline anticipates that the community spirit of the organization may suffer due to the distancing being put in place.
I have had my own struggles as well. The study abroad program I had enrolled in was canceled in May, so I have been left scrambling to find housing and enroll in classes. None of that has been helped by the fact that the entire university is reconfiguring housing already, and some of my classes may be online regardless of whether we are on campus.
Students across the country are dealing with similar problems. Our next step is to determine how we move forward. Luckily, college campuses are teeming with resources.
If you are feeling stressed about the fall, make sure to reach out to whichever adviser you feel closest to. Academic advisers are often helpful for many areas outside of academics, and the same is true for advisers in other departments.
If you feel that your concerns or problems are very specific to you, you might do best when you locate the contact information for a smaller department. On a university website, a little research will often reveal numerous areas for help, from housing to meal plans to your social life on campus. By finding out which area fits your needs the best, you are more likely to get the answers and assistance you need. Many schools have formed COVID-19 response committees to plan for the upcoming year—these groups are especially helpful if you have questions about how the pandemic will affect in-class learning.
Use your school’s main website to find out about mental health resources that may be available to you. Many schools have increased the availability of these resources because they know the last few months have been especially stressful. These resources are often free and confidential, and they exist to help you through everything going on. You may even be able to meet with someone virtually before you get back to school. If you need help, do not wait.
We can use this experience to grow closer with our classmates and school community as a whole. While it has been challenging and it will continue to be challenging going forward into the school year, remembering that many students are facing the same struggles that you are has the power to unite us.