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Dear Family, Your Student is Still in College

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

Right now, many of us are experiencing the worst health crisis of our lifetime. COVID-19, or coronavirus, is upending most of our lives and forcing us to move into a very new way of life. Schools have closed. In some cases classes are being delivered virtually. In others, academic years have been cancelled all together.

Along with our traditional calendar and delivery goes a way of life that represents normalcy for your college student. (I’m not ignoring or dismissing the feelings of K-12 and graduate students. College is just my wheelhouse.) Your student is either at an off-campus apartment or back home to complete the rest of this semester. What does this mean for you an your family?

1. Your student still in school and is not . . . I repeat . . . NOT on break. Your student is responsible for committing the same time and effort to classes that they were when on campus. Perhaps even more so that they’ve been uprooted from the environment with which they’ve become familiar since late August.

2. Treat this as a work from home situation. In actuality, your students are doing just that. While their schedule may not fit a 9-5 routine, they are working. Your student may be following the same class schedule they have at school, or it may be modified around what’s happening at home. Whatever it is, please respect it. This includes both class and study time – they are two separate things. Your student may also incorporate time to connect with classmates (Did someone say group study video chat?) or even professor’s office hours. They are doing the best they can to finish the semester and it requires cooperation from the entire family.

3. There’s no harm in expecting assistance family responsibilities, but respect their priorities. Your student is at home and should help out around the house. However, schedule that household assistance. From helping out with chores to spending time with the rest of the family, there is no issue with the expectation. As your student when the open blocks occur in their schedule and work with that.

4. Encourage your students to socialize with others. Being with family is important, but so are our networks. Your students may have a habit of sitting with her BFF until late night, snacking and chatting. Suggest your student have a watch party and invite friends. To the extent they (and we all) can, replicate as much of their regular routine as possible, only virtually.

5. Cut them and yourself, some slack. This adjustment can be difficult for everyone, especially if you have K-12 children at home in addition to your college student. You may be balancing your own work from home situation, or dealing with fewer hours as a result of the crisis. This is the first time we’ve ALL had to do this and we’re figuring it out as we go.

The main takeaway is that we will get through this. Some of it is trial-and-error and that’s okay. When it comes to your student though, take a deep breath, have a conversation about expectations, and do our best. #TogetherAtHome



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