Attending School During a Global Pandemic: How to Make the Most of It

While it might be hard to believe, it is that time of year again. The leaves are changing, the air has become a little bit chillier, and classes are in session. That’s right, it’s back-to-school season! For many students and teachers, the heavy burdens of assignments and deadlines that are upon us are all too familiar as this school year is quickly picking up the pace. However, because we are currently in the midst of a global pandemic, the academic responsibilities that we are normally faced with may seem larger and more difficult to tackle successfully this semester. 

The additional stress that we are all currently experiencing is completely warranted, as we are trying to balance academics, extracurriculars, and our social lives, all while trying to take extra safety precautions in order to avoid catching a highly contagious virus. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, don’t worry; you’re not alone. While we unfortunately cannot do anything to change our circumstances, we can definitely work together to make the most of the situation.

  1. Socialize in small groups of friends and in safe locations. 

For students whose schools are allowing you to return back to campus, it is important to know that you can spend time with your friends while still adhering to COVID-related guidelines. Hanging out in small groups of 5-10 people, having meals outside on the lawn, and going on outdoor walks or runs with your friends are all examples of enjoyable, yet safe ways to socialize at school during a pandemic. Make sure to always wear a mask and respect other people’s personal space while doing so. Before coming back to college this year, I was worried that the new regulations would lead to social isolation and prevent me from enjoying myself. About a week after arriving, however, I realized that I was completely wrong. I have still been able to have fun with my friends, despite the fact that physical contact is limited and that crowded dorm/house parties and large gatherings are currently not an option. Plus, while these new limits regarding social interaction are not ideal, they are beneficial because they allow us to do things that we might have taken for granted before, such as taking advantage of the school’s outdoor spaces and having even more one-on-one conversations with each other. 

two friends walking big dogs on leashes on a bright grassy hill Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

  1. Utilize the resources available to you. 

Like I mentioned earlier, it is completely normal for these circumstances to take a large toll on your mental health. There are many days where it is physically and mentally exhausting to try and keep up with every obligation while also knowing that every time you are doing so, you are putting yourself at risk of getting sick. It is quite easy to fall behind or burn out. This is why it is important now more than ever for us to take advantage of the resources that are available to us both inside and outside of school. Don’t hesitate to talk to teachers and professors if you are struggling with the material, if you are finding it difficult to concentrate in online classes, or if you need a little bit more time for an assignment. Keep in mind that they are also working extra hard to adjust to these new circumstances and successfully teach classes during a global pandemic, so they are likely to be supportive and understanding of their students’ struggles. Additionally, feel free to consider the counseling and mental health facilities on your campus or in your town. We are all in the same boat right now and we could all use a little bit of extra guidance from others. 

Woman with curly hair waving and saying hi to someone through her laptop. Photo by Yan from Pexels

  1. Balance out your schedule and give yourself a break. 

Just as the current situation requires us to find a healthy balance within our social lives, between having interactions with others while still following safety rules, it also requires us to create balances within other facets of our lives as well. In other words, it is important to stay on top of your school work (especially in remote learning situations, where the lack of face-to-face interaction can make it more difficult to retain information and complete assignments), but it is equally important to allow yourself to rest from time to time. Instead of forcing yourself to stay up all night to finish an assignment or study for an exam, try to get a good night's sleep and come back to your work once you are refreshed and well-rested. Of course, sleep is always important for your health, and right now, when the risk of experiencing illness and health problems is particularly high, I cannot stress this enough. This also goes for extracurriculars; I would recommend participating in at least one or two that interest you, especially to increase human interaction during times like these, but try not to burden yourself.

Woman reading a book in bed Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

This is a very unique situation that most of us have never experienced before. Even though it is extremely difficult, it is important for us to feel grateful for what we have and pride ourselves on the challenges that we have already overcome during the pandemic. The more we all work together to try and make this experience as safe and enjoyable as possible for ourselves and others, the sooner we will be able to go back to normal. I am confident that ultimately, these difficulties will help us become stronger, more resilient, and more compassionate people in the future.