Current students–like most of us– have never experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. With schools closing and events being cancelled, normal life has been greatly disrupted.
High school closings means no athletics, clubs, proms or other social events. It’s a really big loss for many students. Juniors applying to college will not be able to do the campus tours or attend the college fairs they normally would this spring. Seniors who’ve been accepted don’t have the chance to go to on-campus admitted students events to help make their final decisions.
Being sent home from college in the middle of the term is incredibly unsettling. Day-to-day social and athletic opportunities are gone, and classes have suddenly gone virtual. Those who are seniors may have already bid a rushed goodbye to friends months earlier than expected.
Here are some ideas you can pass along to students to help them through these turbulent times:
- Honor your feelings. You have every right to be upset that you are no longer on campus with your friends, or that you can’t participate in an internship or study abroad. Your feelings are valid, regardless of how others might react.
- Find balance. While “venting” may give you temporary relief, be sure to spend time focusing on fulfilling activities as well, such as hobbies, reading, or creative endeavors.
- Manage your media exposure. Staying up to date on important changes (e.g., travel bans) is appropriate, but it’s not necessary to check news outlets multiple times a day.
- Keep some perspective. If you and your family are healthy, be thankful. Consider ways that you might learn or grow from this experience. You are living through a historical event that people will talk about for many years to come. Some of the changes in society–which we can only guess at–are likely to be positive.
- Focus on what’s under your control. You can practice good hygiene and social distancing; you can’t control the availability of masks and treatments, or when schools will reopen.
- Become a distance-learning expert. Not only is this technology important to your education right now, but it is also likely to be more widely used in the future. Become familiar with how the online platforms work, and help your teachers and school think creatively about how to use it most effectively.
- Do something constructive. Brush up on your cooking skills. Learn to fix things around the house. You will need these skills in adulthood.
- Expand your knowledge. Learn a new computer language or foreign language. There are many free resources available online. You might uncover a career path you never knew about.
- Maintain your health. Sleep, good nutrition and exercise are as important as ever. They will help keep your spirits as well as your immunity up.
- Develop routines. Your old patterns (e.g., going to sports practice) may not be possible now, but you can establish new habits such as regular chat times with friends or mealtimes with family.
- If you’re in high school, stay on track with college admissions. Colleges are making allowances for the current situation (e.g., by extending the deposit deadline or going test-optional), but they still expect you to do your part. You can learn about colleges through virtual tours/events, communicate with admissions reps by phone or email and, most importantly, continue to do well in your courses.
- If you’re in college, continue laying the groundwork for your career. Stay connected to your professors; research future career paths or internships; update your resume or LinkedIn profile.
Your ability to be resourceful, and to draw on the support of others during this crisis, will make you a wiser, more resilient person in the years to come.
This article was originally published in LINK for Counselors.