Make the Most of Campus Services During the Pandemic

It’s no secret that college isn’t the same during the pandemic. Instead of strolling through campus with friends or batting around economic theory during an in-person seminar, many students are clicking into Zoom classes from their dorm rooms, childhood bedrooms, or off-campus apartments. It’s jarring—and isolating. And Zoom fatigue is real. Despite the barriers posed by online classes and campus services, students are making a go of it. In addition to classes, colleges have pivoted student services to remote formats that are available and accessible to all. If you’re struggling with your online coursework, these extra resources may turn a negative academic year into a positive pandemic outcome. Here’s how campuses have adapted and what students themselves recommend.

Use academic services and connect with your professors

Probably the biggest stressor for students is not being able to connect with professors and academic services in person. But after a bumpy take-off, academic services at many colleges have reinvented themselves for the pandemic, offering group Zoom sessions, webinars, online workshops, and virtual one-on-one coaching. Your college likely has a writing center, tutoring center, peer coaching, and programs to teach time management, study skills, or how to reduce test anxiety. These resources can help you manage your academics. Even if you don’t need extra help, they can also help you feel more connected to your college (maybe your tutoring center needs you for peer help!).

Maximize on career services’ resources

With internships canceled around the country last summer, making career connections has been another stressor for students. Campuses have adapted by offering online career fairs to help. Lafayette College’s fall career fair morphed into a virtual event that managed to draw nearly as many employers as previous in-person fairs. More than 450 students participated, according to Mike Summers, Assistant Vice President of Lafayette’s Gateway Career Centre. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, students have continued to engage with career counseling services using virtual technologies, he says.

Take advantage of what your college offers even if you’re a younger student—because it’s never too early to utilize the career services office. Start by signing up for your career center’s email notifications and social media channels.

Create a routine and schedule downtime

With professors willing to communicate at all hours and asynchronous classes available any time of day, many students feel fragmented and buried in their screens all the time. Try creating structure and downtime, experienced students suggest. Merriman says she and her roommates have created a daily routine of gathering at their dining room table to log in to their classes and do homework together. The structure offers the feeling of the classroom and the library—at least a little bit. She’s also maintained virtual study groups and gone to virtual review sessions before exams, which she says are well attended.

Reach out for other kinds of help

It may be that the issue behind an academic slide or general malaise is bigger than simply connecting with your professors for extra help. Many more students are struggling with mental health this year. Check your campus health center for a list of health and wellness programs. Many health centers offer telehealth appointments. Just do something for yourself if you’ve been struggling. And if you’re struggling financially—which also causes stress and mental health problems—find out if your campus has a Basic Needs Office to learn how your campus can help you. Alternatively, ask your Dean of Students, Student Affairs, or Multicultural Office where to start. Many campuses have a food pantry, but some colleges also offer more comprehensive help. Talk to someone on your campus. These resources are another strategy for success, so don’t be afraid to use them.