Much has been made of the challenges that have faced students and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift to remote learning and shortened school days was difficult for many families, forcing students to adapt to virtual school on the fly as their parents adjusted to working from home full-time while doing their best to keep kids engaged in their studies and occupied when school let out each day.
Some students may be a little anxious as they prepare to return to campus this fall. That transition could be especially difficult for incoming college freshmen, who must overcome any pandemic-related concerns about returning to campus while also making the transition to life on a college campus. The following are some ways to make that transition go smoothly.
• Engage in the community. The Health, Counseling and Disability Access Services at the University of Missouri-St. Louis urges students to take advantage of opportunities to engage in their new communities as early as possible. The HCDAS notes that first-year experiences are designed to help students connect with their new life on campus and make new friends. All incoming freshmen are facing the same set of unique circumstances as the 2021-22 school year begins. That includes the adjustment from remote learning with limited social contact with peers to a return to more traditional academic and social settings. Navigating that transition alongside other incoming freshmen can make it a little easier to handle.
• Plan ahead. Parents and their college-bound children can prepare for the coming school year by learning about on-campus policies over the summer. Will masks be mandated? Will classrooms remain socially distanced? Are vaccinations required to attend class in person? The sooner families learn these policies, the sooner they can begin planning for life on campus. Parents also can look into on-campus resources designed to help students readjust to being back among their peers. Knowing where to go for help should students need it can ensure any issues that arise are addressed promptly.
• Encourage students to share their concerns. Opening up about any concerns they may have can help students as they emerge from the pandemic. Many parents were concerned about returning to the office in person, and they can share those concerns and the ultimate outcomes of their returns with students concerned about moving onto a college campus. Parents are urged to periodically check in with college students about any anxieties they may have about being on campus.
Returning to full-time, in-person learning after the pandemic may be especially challenging for incoming college freshmen. Such students can work with their parents over the summer to conquer their fears and prepare for the coming school year.