COVID-19 is here to stay. Many young adults are sequestered away from campus for the duration of the semester already, and we are beginning to hear predictions of months, even years of altered societal norms. So, here are my recommendations for those of you late high school and early college students for how to keep your life-growth going while the world stands still.
First, become a technology whiz. Spend time with any and all digital resources provided to you, and don’t just use them, master them. Not only will that help you get the most out of the semester now, but you can be a leader, facilitator, and consultant as these technologies become commonplace in our world. If this suggestion seems challenging to you, buddy up with a friend or two on Google Hangouts and watch tutorial videos (lmost all web-based technologies have extensive video tutorials that you can use to brush up your skills and hone new ones). This will be a skill you carry forward into your education and career and poise you for leadership and competence as society evolves.
Second, don’t give up on this semester. Are you set to take AP exams? Visit a college? Find an internship? Keep your top priority goals in mind. What’s going to happen is that the educators and advisors around you are going to do everything in their power to make fair and helpful decisions. Stay up to date on their decisions, and then adjust your goals as needed. One example of this happening in real time now is college admissions offices delaying deposit dates (decision day!) past May 1. If a college extends their decision date, then you can guarantee they’ll be bending over backwards to offer new online tours, chats, etc., and to reschedule campus events as soon as the all-clear is called. Do as much as you can online, and then rest easy knowing that others are working to present you with tools in your critical decision- it may just take some time. While our doctors are working vigilantly on treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, you can bet that admissions officers, school counselors, and college personnel are working hard on finding the best ways to support students. Like the doctors, they just need a bit of time to get everything sorted.
Another example – were you planning to go abroad this summer or next semester, with plans interrupted now? Stay in touch with the study abroad office so that they know how high your interest is and will keep you at the top of the list when chances re-open. Then be in touch with your advisor to talk about how you might schedule classes so that you can still go abroad when travel re-opens. While you’re at it, take some online language classes – many companies are moving to free memberships during the national emergency. Alternatively, are you meant to take the SAT, or another high stakes test? Just keep studying on a regular, but not urgent basis for now. The tests will come back around eventually, and as I said before, everyone will be trying to make sure you have what you need to succeed. Be prepared so that you can jump on the opportunity once it arrives.
Last tip: Receive the gifts available in this season. Have you been meaning to try a morning yoga practice? Do it. Try calling a close friend and talking on the phone – that’s what I used to do in high school, and it is sort of more fun than texting sometimes! Spend time doing things that you know are good for your body, mind, and spirit – walking, sleeping, cooking from scratch, playing games with family, journalling, painting/drawing/crafting, making your bed every morning, reading an awesome book, engaging in spiritual practice. Maybe even writing a letter, or a thank you note! These “small” things are powerful, yet can so easily be squeezed out of our lives. Make an effort to spend significant time away from devices (even while you are more closely tethered to them for school, etc), so that your mind can wander, heal and relax. You may find that a new stress-busting habit emerges in this season that you carry forward into the rest of your life. Watch your favorite Netflix shows, but then also turn them off sometimes and turn your eyes to what’s outside in nature, what’s inside your house and your heart.
March 2020 is a time to take care of ourselves and be watchful about how we can care for others. If you are a young adult, grieving or worrying about what the implications of this virus will be for you, take heart. In times of crisis, we humans can often show our best sides and do a good job taking care of each other. You will be cared for and supported by your institutions, families, communities, and society as you navigate what’s ahead for your future. You will be comforted by keeping ties with peers through social media in ways that past generations could not have. You will be strengthened by the skills you gain in this time, and you will thrive by receiving the gift of rest and recentering. We at Find The Right College are here to support in any way we can, and our thoughts and efforts go out to you high school and college students as we face the COVID-19 crisis.
Nicole has dedicated the entirety of her 20 year career to encouraging higher education opportunities. After graduating from Vanderbilt, she worked in her alma mater’s admissions office. The, she completed her PhD in Counseling so she could bring that expertise into college counseling. Nicole partnered with her former Vanderbilt colleague, Fitz Totten, to form Find The Right College and support their mission to make trustworthy advising more accessible.