How to Thrive in College Despite the Pandemic

Five Key Tips for Students Adjusting to Life as a College Student During a Global Crisis

October 06, 2020
Lander College for Women Student Liora Resnick

For most people, starting college is synonymous with opening a new chapter, moving out of your family home and gaining independence. Yet with the pandemic affecting almost all areas of life, it is difficult to readjust your expectations and figure out what you need to do to ‘thrive in college’ despite the pandemic, particularly when everything is constantly changing.

Like everyone else, I had my Spring semester cut short, and had to return home to learn remotely. Working with a five-hour time difference was next to impossible, and that was before all of the added stresses and distractions that come with remote learning. Therefore, I was excited to begin my senior year living in the city with my friends again, to regain some normalcy. Now I find myself learning half online and half in person and trying to figure out how to make it all work, when the world is running on all these new rules and regulations.

College can be overwhelming, the work-load is intense, the social aspects and dynamics take some getting used to. Part of living independently is being able to manage your own schedule – for better or for worse. And all of these things are altered by remaining at home or attending school online rather than in person.

So what are we supposed to do? How can we expect ourselves to thrive when the last six months has just been about surviving in whatever capacity that means for your circumstances?

The truth is, there isn’t a good answer. To start, the term thriving is arbitrary, it means different things to different people. But here are some things that I have found to be useful in the last few months:

  1. Adjust your expectations. Focusing on what college should, could or would be like is irrelevant. Deal with what it actually is like right now.
  2. Create a schedule for yourself. This could mean making sure you get dressed every day or going for a walk or eating three meals a day. The point is to put in place extra activities that will help you to attend your classes and do the work.
  3. Be Proactive. It is a lot easier when you aren’t physically in school, or in an environment conducive to college, to forget to be in touch with professors, or to let misunderstandings and absences build up. It’s easier said than done, but don’t do it.
  4. Check in with yourself, check in with your friends. Create space in your day or in your week to check in with yourself. And check in on your friends. Not only will that keep you tethered to your social group, but online school can be incredibly isolating. Being in touch with friends will help alleviate that.
  5. Don’t push deadlines unnecessarily. Unless really needed, it’ll just prolong the inevitable.

Most importantly, once you have figured out what it means for you to thrive in college, allow yourself the flexibility to change that definition. If the whole world is constantly changing, why can’t you?