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College Ready in the Time of 'Rona

College is right around corner. Really. In less than a month most college semesters will be in session. Although plans aren’t completely solid, many students are probably going to move back on campus, with restrictions, for their first college experience. What does this mean?

It means that in addition to the regular challenges that come with shifting from high school to college, they’re also learning how to be great college students in the MIDDLE of a national pandemic. College read in the time of ‘Rona in some ways is very different, but in other ways it’s the same.

My advice about staying on top of things is the same. Check your school email every day. Check the student portal at least weekly for information about things such as financial aid, housing, your meal plan, class schedule, etc. Put all important dates in your planner (paper or electronic) and build in some buffer time (to fool yourself) if you’re a last-minute person like me. That isn’t going to change.

At this point in the game, most things are finalized, like your move-in date and first day of classes. While some things, like your class schedule, may change after you arrive on campus, your financial aid and housing assignment should be pretty solid. Financial aid isn’t my area of expertise, but I can tell you to accept more grants and scholarships than loans. If possible, get a work study position on campus. With that, do what you can to be assigned one without late night hours that will affect/interfere with your study and sleep time.

A week or so before classes start, reach out to your instructors introducing yourself and asking what, if any, work should be done prior to the first class. It may sound unnecessary or corny, but don’t dismiss it. That small action shows initiative and leaves an impression on your instructor. It also sets the expectation that you will be on top of your game. We’re all human, which means you may slip every now and then, and that’s allowed. However, make doing the right thing, the thing that’ll move your forward, as frequently and as consistently as you can.

It’s understandable if you are pre-occupied with big things like making the decision whether to move on campus, enroll in online courses, or take a gap year. That’s more than fair and is a decision you will make with your family. However you choose to approach your first year of college, the transition requires adjustment. You spent a good portion of your senior year experiencing virtual education, so you know what does and does not work for you. Take those lessons along with some tips about college expectations, into your Fall ’20 experience.

Although life has changed significantly since March, many things are still the same. Your job as a first-year student is to take charge of your education and actively engage in the process. The resources your institution offers are still available, you may have to access them through a virtual platform. Classes still require studying, papers require proofing and editing, physical and mental health require self-awareness, making strong connections requires making good impressions. Because this hasn’t changed, neither should the way you approach your college career. Let’s get it!


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