In a world of uncertainty, one thing is pretty certain: college campuses are going to look a lot different in the fall. Whether that means living on campus and attending socially-distanced classes, taking remote classes, or living off-campus, you will likely have to adjust to a new arrangement in the coming months. If you’re a college freshman, that can seem daunting and even a little disappointing. Despite the changes, you can still successfully kick off your college career by following some of our tips.
Before You Arrive on Campus
Before you even get to campus, utilize social media and other virtual resources to make friends. Although connecting with your college community online can be a little awkward at first, it’s also a great way to meet people with shared interests and backgrounds. Try joining your class Instagram or Facebook group to read other students’ introductions and even introduce yourself. Share some of your hobbies, favorite TV shows, music, and photos. As Jake Albro, an incoming freshman at Pomona College noticed, “During the past few months, as COVID-19 limited in-person interactions and even resulted in the cancelling of Admitted Students Day, the admitted students Instagram account has proven to be the most informative and entertaining network for learning about my fellow college students.” Even if you decide to take a passive role on social media, you can still reach out to compelling students over direct message. Once you start messaging, try scheduling a Zoom call or make a plan to hang out when you get to campus. By the time you arrive on campus, you won’t feel as limited by socially-distanced guidelines that could make in-person connections more challenging.
You may also benefit from getting a lay of the land before you get to campus. With many schools forgoing traditional orientations due to COVID-19, you might want to do a little more research from home. Find out necessary information on navigating your campus, any and all supplies you might need, and your college’s rules and regulations regarding COVID-19. You’ll feel prepared if you know when and where you need to wear a mask, how the dining halls will work in the fall, and the procedures for classes. Try to pack masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, and other cleaning supplies so that you’re not rushing to purchase these scarce items in the days before you leave for school.
While You’re on Campus
Once you arrive on campus, you’ll want to maintain a sense of patience and understanding towards your school and your peers. Remember that everyone is adjusting to a new environment in the midst of a pandemic, which is an incredibly overwhelming experience. Respect your college’s guidelines for COVID-19, even if that means hanging out with friends in a distant setting or wearing a mask when you step out of your dorm room. Do your part to maintain safety and cleanliness on your campus.
To thrive in your new college community during such an overwhelming time, you’ll also want to build a routine for yourself. Establish a weekly schedule and daily routine that includes getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising (outdoors, if need be), and studying in a quiet space. Don’t forget to include social time! Plan socially-distanced get-togethers with your friends, such as going for walks, studying six feet apart, or getting coffee to-go.
The fall semester will be a challenging time for all students, particularly college freshman. While you may not know what to expect for your college career at this time, remember that this period will pass. Most students have four years of college, so don’t let the first semester shape the rest of your college career. By coming to campus prepared and maintaining a schedule throughout your semester, you will feel ready to take on any challenge that the rest of 2020 throws at you!