College COVID-style: a guide for young adults

It is no secret that we are in an unprecedented age and though everyone's college experience is different, most college graduates had classes on campus, could socialize freely, and could go to big events like football games or concerts. COVID changes this. Some activities and sports are cancelled, socializing has new rules, and where you're taking your classes can range from a dorm to your parents' house in a different state, depending on your situation. We can't control COVID or your college's response to it though we can try to take a more "one day at a time" as opposed to a "this sucks" approach. A more open minded attitude might allow you to adapt to changes and problem solve things easier. A more extreme and hopeless attitude might actually make an already tough situation worse. If your reality this year is not what you hoped your college experience would be, it's okay to be upset and sad. What you do next is important. Do you lean into that negative feeling and wallow in despair or do you think about silver linings or feel a sense of gratitude that you had previous years of college or that at least you don’t have to be doing another year of high school right now. Do you withdraw and avoid or do you get inventive, accept the challenge of this time, and explore what other things you can do to have a better academic year. It is difficult to take a positive approach and you may not feel up for it. You can try it out and see how it feels.

For some incoming freshmen, this atypical world wreaked havoc on the typical teenage milestones: there was no high school prom, no in-person graduation, and minimal sense of closure on high school. As if that wasn't hard enough, the next step (going to college) turned out to be an amorphous, grey, question mark. Will classes be on campus, will it be in person or virtual or will college be from home. Some schools had a plan and then covid had other plans which led to students having to leave campus. However you look at it, it's a tough time and definitely not the conventional start to the college process. You may have dreamed of going to college for years and not being able to actually attend it in-person, live with a roommate, and get to know the campus can be a major letdown. This can be really upsetting. There may be a sense of anger, frustration, sadness, envy of those who were lucky enough to have a different experience. You may have your own style of coping with these things. If it doesn't seem to be working for you, you could consider trying to hold two ideas in your head at once: I'm upset college looks like this AND I'm going to try to make the most of it. Easier said than done though not impossible and with practice it might be more attainable to feel sometimes. Looking for opportunities or creating them can help give you a sense of control and autonomy. While there may not be dorm parties or on campus events, there might be virtual meetups or meetups for students of your school in your city. Trying to be flexible and experiment with less conventional approaches may help you feel your freshman year was still a good experience, albeit quite abnormal.

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