This year has been a challenging year for many students. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools and colleges suspended in-person learning during the Spring. As summer approached, many high school graduates started looking forward to selecting their university of choice to begin their freshman year this fall. Both students and parents optimistically prepared in the hopes that things would return to normal, and students could resume their collegiate career, as well as high school graduates, begin their college experience. Now, parents and their children newly entering adulthood have some tough decisions ahead. Many colleges and universities are re-opening with a hybrid of in-person and remote learning. Some students are choosing online learning while others are choosing to move forward with plans to attend their university in-person.
We are in unprecedented times, and there are so many things that parents, community members, and mentors can do to prepare and support our college students. Here are five things to consider if you have a college student in your circle who could use some additional support during this time. Consider:
- Emotional well-being – This is a significant time for these young people just emerging into adulthood. The current circumstance can spark many emotions. Be prepared to tune in and hear their concerns. They will need support, understanding, and empathy. Some students may also have emotional needs that are best supported by additional support services like therapy. Continue to be in tune with what your student might need emotionally.
- Logistics Planning – For the students attending a college campus in person, make sure they are prepared to follow the guidelines set forth by their institution. Ensure they have an adequate supply of masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant. For the students that will be attending classes online, make sure they have the proper technology, sufficient internet connection, and supplies.
- Tuition needs – Some students are experiencing an economic crisis as well. Help them contact the financial aid office at their college to advocate for more grants and scholarships to supplement income loss. Also, discuss opportunities for virtual or in-person part-time jobs to alleviate some monetary pressures.
- Time management – Many students will need assistance with time management. Online classes may present opportunities for students to miss class and fall behind with assignments. Also, this style of learning may be a challenge for some students. Assist in developing strategies to keep them on track. Remember, for some students; this will be their very first college experience. They may not have the same benefit of accessibility to faculty as they did in high school.
- Relationship management – There is no doubt that for those students that are social butterflies, this is a challenging space to navigate. For many colleges, they have scaled back athletic programs and canceled homecoming, as well as other activities. The cafeterias are moving towards to-go options and enforcing social distancing guidelines. Recommend that the students in your circle maintain virtual contact with friends, classmates, and family members to have some form of social interaction.
Ultimately, we are all going to need a little support, empathy, and grace to navigate our changing world. Let’s allow our students the time and space to process their feelings yet encourage them to move forward with positivity.
Written by: Christina Barnhill
Photo credit: Wes Hicks