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Survival Tips for Your First Year of College During a Pandemic

With college having been mostly online the previous school year, many students would agree that attending college during a worldwide pandemic has provided a new set of challenges that they would not have expected to encounter during their first year of college. From losing your internet connection while uploading an assignment to lack of interaction with either a professor or classmate, there have been many challenges to combat while attending college virtually. As a second-year student who spent a majority of their first year of college within the four walls of my bedroom, I have had my share of these challenges regarding online classes. Fortunately, I have learned many survival skills that got me through the first year successfully. For any first-year students starting college this year, I hope that you find these skills to be beneficial during your first year especially if college becomes mostly online again. 

  1. Flexibility is Key 

College during a pandemic has been difficult for many students to get through to the point where it can be increasingly challenging for those to stay flexible when the going gets rough. During my first year of college, there were times when I had to be flexible for, whether it meant dealing with a lost internet connection or lack of communication with a professor or classmate. Although there were many times when I felt like giving up on various situations, I would remind myself of the importance that being flexible will always benefit you during a difficult situation and that something good will eventually come out of it. It is also important to remember that you are not the only student struggling with being flexible because you may be able to relate to them since they may be experiencing the same inconveniences as you are. With flexibility in mind, you can teach yourself that it takes patience and determination to conquer many difficult situations and you can also pass it down to others who may need it most. 

  1. Don’t Hesitate to Reach Out to Your Professors

Going from sitting at a desk with your professor teaching right in front of you to them teaching you through a computer screen is a big game-changer. Which is especially difficult at times for a student to even interact with them. While taking online classes where you rarely ever connect with your professor, it may feel awkward or even intimidating to reach out to your professor with any questions or concerns you may have. I have definitely felt hesitant about reaching out to my professors when I have had a question or two about an assignment. However, after having acquired the information necessary for an assignment, it would often become clear to me on how to complete an assignment or how to access an important online tool for the class. Reaching out to my professors has often saved me from any trouble down the road and making these connections with my professors would make me feel more comfortable whenever I needed an answer to a question. So reach out to your professors, you won’t regret it!

  1. Explore Any Extracurriculars of Interest

Being stuck in the four walls of your dorm or bedroom can certainly make it difficult to have or maintain a social life while attending college virtually. However, joining any clubs or sports that you may be interested in can change that. Not only will you have the opportunity to meet new people, you will also have something to look forward to on certain days of the week aside from studying. Going the extra mile to join a few clubs my first year of college gave me the chance to meet amazing people and gave some joy and excitement during a rather difficult time to be a college student. Even though many club meetings were virtual instead of in-person, there were occasions when we got to meet in person and participate in fun activities. So I would definitely recommend putting yourself out there and looking into any extracurriculars you may be interested in during this school year. 

  1. Take New Classes Not Just the Required Ones

When choosing your classes you may find yourself figuring out what classes fulfill your general education requirements and which classes count towards your desired major or minor. Although these types of classes are good to have knowledge of, it is also good to consider any classes outside of your major/minor requirements and general education requirements. However, it is easy to forget about this when you are taking online classes because you may feel that there is no point in doing so. During my first year, I often did not consider any classes outside of these requirements until I was encouraged to take a fitness class during summer quarter. As a result, I signed up for the class and it gave me a reason to get out and be active after a year of studying within the four walls of my bedroom. So not only looking into required classes may give you a reason to be active, creative, or motivated. Even if you feel pressured to take only required classes, give yourself a reason to take a class you may have always wanted to take. 

  1. Take Any Breaks if Needed

Not only is taking mostly online classes difficult to attend since you are not really going anywhere when you take these types of classes. It can also be physically grueling when you are sitting at a desk for most of the day working on your assignments for your classes, especially when you forget that you can take any breaks if needed. As a college student who would often forget to do this when working on various assignments, I would often find myself wanting to take a break while feeling the need to complete my assignments first. However, there were times when I took breaks in the form of going on walks and runs, getting myself a coffee, or making myself a meal. As a result, I would feel refreshed and more motivated to get my assignments done. Now that I am headed into my second year of college, I hope to be able to take more breaks if needed and for those of you first-year students to take breaks if necessary as well. 

After taking a year of mostly online classes, I definitely learned in my first year that each of these survival skills are incredibly beneficial since they can remind you that there is still a world outside of the four walls of your dorm or bedroom. Additionally, these skills can help you get through any difficult situation, much like the current pandemic that we are still having to live with. Having learned these skills during my first year of college, especially since I attended mostly online classes, I can definitely say that I have learned to be more resilient in difficult situations and that it is important to go the extra mile when maintaining a social life when there is limited opportunity to do so. Overall, despite the circumstances that the current pandemic has put my college experience in so far, I am grateful that I learned these skills head-on and I feel that I can take on any other difficult situations that I may encounter later on. For any first-year students who are entering college this year, I hope that these survival skills help you during your first year. 

A first year student at CWU who is interested in pursuing a major in psychology with a minor in theatre arts. Enjoys baking, singing, and exercising during spare time.
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