Preparing for College During a Pandemic

We’re living in a time where the world is shut down and we have no answers as to when or how things will return to “normal.” I don’t want this post to focus on the negatives of the pandemic we are facing, but it is important to have a plan. Regardless of if this is your first college semester or your last, it’s important to have a rough idea of what you’re doing in order to ease some anxiety.

As the start of the school year gets closer, colleges are making their announcements as to how things will run. Depending on your location and school size, this is going to look different for everyone. Some schools are even making decisions class-by-class. I’m thankful that my school made their decision to not re-open as early as April so I have had plenty of time to adjust and prepare before classes start in three weeks.

How I have prepared for this semester:

I have a confession… 

Online school is not for me. 

It’s incredibly hard for me to stay motivated and to actually get things done. I’ve tried it before and it’s never worked out well. But with Spring semester ending online, I had already done so much work at the beginning of the semester and wanted to maintain my good grades. I was able to push myself and pull-through with grades much higher than I had expected to receive.

This isn’t meant to be a brag, but I was proud that I was able to do it and it’s given me a confidence boost going into this next semester.

So how do I plan to complete an entire semester online this year?

I’m not the kind of person that needs to maintain the same routine everyday, in fact I kind of thrive off of organized chaos. I like to go and do different things everyday. I do my best all around when I’m busy.

While I don’t maintain the same routine everyday, I do have routines and I am a huge schedular. My planner is my favorite accessory and I have three organizational apps on my phone that I use regularly.

While everyday looks a little bit different, especially since I will still be working once school starts back up, I’ve gone through and made a — rough — schedule of what every Monday will look like, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. I put in my in-person obligations that reoccur first then allotted days and times for specific classes to “attend” at home as if I was attending them in the classroom. This time will be used to complete the homework, readings, and projects I need to do for those classes.

My support system is also great and they often ask me how school is going. They ask me enough that it holds me accountable to actually get my work done. If they ask me “How is [X] class going?” and I respond with, “I have a big project coming up that’s due next week.” they ask me often how that project is going and how I did on it once the due date has passed. It may sound annoying, but I promise keeping at least one or two good people in the loop will pay off some day when they ask about an assignment you forgot is due tomorrow.

I do this already, but if you don’t: WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!

I sometimes take this to the next level, but to-do lists are my favorite thing. I write down stuff for work, school, church. I make sure to put chores like laundry, cleaning, and getting gas on there. I even go as far as to write down if I need to shower, if I’m planning to put a tan on, paint my nails, etc. Anything I deem as something I need to get done and also things I would like to get done goes on that list.

Then I prioritize.

I’ll highlight or underline the things I need to get done first. Whether that be an assignment that’s due that day or laundry that needs to get done because I need a clean uniform for work that night, I’ll highlight the most important “must-get-done-today” things. Everything after that I get to if I have time. If not, it transfers to the next day’s list.

While all of this I think has been helpful to me, especially in the switch to online-only classes, figuring out what works best for you is key. It took me a long time to find a system that really worked for me and my life.

The last thing I’ll mention is something that I think every college student needs to prioritize this semester, and that is checking on your mental health. I think it’s safe to say no one is thrilled with how things are going and there have been waves of grief that have come along with things being shut down, cancelled, or drastically changed.

This semester is not going to be easy, especially for those that have never experienced college before and are trying to figure it out while everyone else is also trying to figure it out.

Crisis fatigue is a real thing. 

WebMD says: “When people have crisis fatigue, it’s natural for them to feel a mixture of exhaustion, rage, disgust, despair, desperation, hypervigilance, anxiety, and grief…”

It’s important to be aware of how this time is affecting your mental health. If your school offers resources I’d strongly encourage you to utilize them. If you already see a counselor, make sure you’re being honest with how this is affecting you. 

And if you need more help and support, here are some resources for you:

Let me know how you’re planning to tackle this semester in the comment section below!

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