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The American Students’ Pandemic Handbook: How to Thrive

What can a high school or college student do to ensure this academic year remains successful? Here are nine principles that will help American students thrive during a global pandemic.

Shawna Newman

September 03, 2020

The American Students’ Pandemic Handbook: How to Thrive
When students can eliminate friction, it sets the pace for smoother sailing!
High school and college students are embarking on or have just begun a new academic season. In typical times, the semesters that lie ahead would be go on without much concern or worry. This school year we’re all on the same, uncertain playing field. Nearly 80 percent of Fastweb users reported their school has changed the type of experience offered this fall because of the Coronavirus. Looking for more COVID-19 student-impact information? Find it here. So, what can United States high schoolers and collegiate do to ensure they’ll thrive as a student in 2020-2021? For the American students at the center of a COVID-19 pandemic, here are nine principles that will help you thrive:

  1. Self-Care and Emotional Awareness
  2. A recent NPR article states that Americans are experiencing symptoms of depression at three times the rate they were pre-COVID. To be a successful student during what feels like a dystopian novel, you must ensure your well-being and mental health remain a top priority. If your mental health state has you feeling sad or gloomy, be an advocate for yourself! Most high schools and college campuses have counseling offices and resources free for student use. Document your life as a student during the pandemic. This is a great form of reflection and awareness. Hint: You may be able to submit a portion of your reflections and experiences in a scholarship essay, or in a college admissions essay.

  3. Know and Adhere to any Campus/School-District Policies
  4. Many schools and college campuses have public-health protocols. Be sure you understand what these guidelines are and do your best to stick to these suggestions. Most school districts and universities have a dedicated COVID-19 Webpage. If we can all do our part to be socially responsible, this will increase our odds of being back in school or on campus sooner. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has taught us, COVID-19 loves a crowd, and it spreads quickly; close quartered schools and higher-education campuses are the perfect petri dish.

  5. Establish a Dedicated Study Space
  6. Results from a Fastweb survey shows a stunning, 88 percent of our college student audience are taking hybrid or online classes this fall. And, more than a quarter of Fastweb’s college audience will be living at home this semester too. Your setting shifted and your learning format flipped, you’ll clearly need to set yourself up for success! Create a specific environment geared toward your studies. This can be an office, or in your bedroom/dorm. Work with what you have. You don’t need to necessarily go out and buy new desk or home office supplies. Start by removing any distractions. Think gaming counsels, TVs, people, etc. Gather your computer, notepads, index cards, highlighters, pens, pencils. Consider displaying your favorite motivational poster to sprinkle in inspiration.

  7. When in Doubt, Raise Your Hand
  8. While you may think your problem or concern is obvious, it’s not. In fact, most of us are feeling bombarded; we have a lot more on our plates than usual. Your teachers, professors and parents may even feel the same way. If you need help or clarification, or an assignment extension, raise your hand; ask for help. Self-advocacy is an important life skill you should learn to embrace. Know your professors’ office hours. If your college is online exclusive, your instructors should still have time to discuss concerns or projects with you. Sometimes explaining a question or concern in an email isn’t so simple. In this situation an in-person conversation would be ideal. Try asking if you could use their slated office hours to set up a Zoom call. This is also a great idea for virtual high school students.

  9. Use Your Calendar
  10. If you are currently a student in an online or hybrid classroom, you may feel disconnected when it comes to assignment and test deadlines. As you receive an assignment or know of an upcoming test date, put it on your Google calendar. This makes it official. We also suggest you set up a few e-calendar reminders to keep yourself receptive to important tasks and their associated deadlines! As mentioned above know your teachers’, counselors’ or professors’ office times. We suggest you put these times on your calendar, so you won’t forget. Doing so will also serve as a visual reminder that you have the ability to connect. For high school juniors and seniors, set goals and establish college-bound tasks this fall. Having a goal and checking it off as done will give you a positive boost.

  11. Communicate
  12. There is a lot of noise in the world today. Make it a habit to correspond with your teachers and instructors via email. If your classroom consists of a person-to-person format, talk to your teachers. Follow up or check in with an email. As in almost any profession, you’ll get distracted and sometimes wonder Did I ask that question or just imagine it? Having an email will help you retain some sanity in the grand scheme of things. To better organize your active communication happenings, we suggest you create email folders. Choose to categorize these as you like; to start off we suggest creating folders for each class or teacher. Once read, place them within their proper folder. As you progress in your email communication, adjust the process to make it work best for you. The trick is to make your communication as streamlined and simple as possible.

  13. Use District or Campus Support Programs
  14. If you’re a college student, you’re already paying for support programs and services via your college fee(s). Connect with your student advisor to find out about free mental health services on campus. If you feel safe to do so, use your campus gym. For high school and college students, you’ll want to know how to contact your Information Technology department. This year WiFi and computer hiccups could throw a wrench into your studies. Get free help troubleshooting pesky tech problems. Other important support programs include religious centers, writing labs, tutoring groups, the financial aid office, career advisement, the health center, special interest clubs/organizations and more. To get a full list of the free services your school district offers, connect with your school counselor. For college students, your student activities director or academic advisor can point you in the right direction.

  15. Evaluate Your Internet Connectivity
  16. Internet service is now a school supplies essential. Proactively testing your internet connectivity is a big deal. Even if you’re currently in a traditional, face-to-face classroom you should know how well your internet works—Say if there’s a sudden to switch to virtual learning. Many rural and minority communities don’t have accessibility to the internet—let alone the option of provider choices. If you’re a student that needs internet access or a more reliable network coverage, you should reach out to the information technology department at your school or college!

  17. Make it a Great Year
Attitude is everything. You have the power to make it great year, regardless of your classroom or lecture hall circumstances. When you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed know you’re not alone. We’re all in this together: students, teachers, professors, friends and parents. These times are uncharted for all of us. Stay motivated. Remain positive. Have grace. Be kind.

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