This school year many college students across the country will return to in-person classes for the first time in nearly a year and a half.
The 2019-2020 school year started like any other. Across the country, parents dropped their freshman students off with dreams of a four-year college experience filled with learning, friends, and fun. As you know it came to a screeching halt as Spring Break 2020 geared up. Covid 19, masks and lockdowns swept the nation. Colleges and universities closed dorms. They closed campuses. They switched to online learning platforms.
For most, virtual learning remained in place for the 2020-2021 school year, too. The life of a college student was anything but typical. Many schools did not even have Spring Break 2021. Many students did not have any in-person classes. Many did not have in-person clubs. Zoom classes became normal.
What was supposed to be the start of an adventure for the Class of 2023 and the Class of 2024, for many, became a weird extension of high school. Many college students returned to their parents’ homes. They returned to their childhood bedrooms.
Now, they return to college for in-person classes. As parents, we need to encourage them to treat the fall semester as a new beginning. Here are five tips to share with your college students:
Returning to in-person classes will be like starting college all over again. Of course, your returning college students will know some people, but they will have missed out on meeting new people and experiencing new opportunities this past year. Encourage your college students the way you did before dropping them off freshman year to be brave and to try new clubs and activities. This school year will be different for everyone.
Depending on family circumstances and what state you are from plays a role in how much someone locked down and truly practiced social distancing. Some families are still being extremely Covid cautious. Be respectful of differences, but know that introverts may have become more introverted during this time of online classes.
Encourage your students to put their phones down when attending in-person classes. Go back to the basics and say, “hello,” to those sitting in the chair next to them. A new friendship or relationship truly can still start with a simple, “hello.”
Realize that some students may be extremely talkative and overly zealous to meet other people after not taking in-person classes for so long. Encourage your students to be patient and welcoming to their very chatty classmates, too. This time of transition to the new normal will be exciting and challenging for everyone.
Be Prepared for In-Person Classes
For some college students, online classes were no problem. But for many, the isolation and lack of face-to-face teaching took their toll. Some subjects were easier to learn in an online format than others. Some professors were better at adapting to teaching their curriculum via zoom than others.
As your college students return to in-person classes, encourage them to review a subject matter or start reading a few chapters before the semester begins. Be excited like when they were little, take them back to school shopping for new notebooks and the exact kind of pens that they like.
Ask them what they need to be successful. You might be surprised that your students may just want a trip to the dollar store to buy some cutesy back-to-school supplies. They might need a lunch out with Mom. Stepping into a physical classroom for the first time in a year and a half will be exciting to some students and quite intimidating to others. The more your students are prepared the better off they will be.
Confidence comes in many forms. Ensure your students that you believe in them no matter what ups and downs happened with their online virtual grades. For those who struggled with online college classes, hopefully, 2020-2021, will be a blip in their college career. No more excuses. In-person classes are a new start.
If you can, purchase your college students a new outfit, new shoes or just a new shirt like you used to for the first day of school when they were younger. A new look or outfit can help a college student feel confident as he/she walks into a classroom full of strangers for the first time in 18 months. Make sure your students know that you are their roots and they are ready to fly.
“BE KIND!” They are not just buzz words. It really is that simple. Encourage your college students to follow the Golden Rule: Do to Others as You Would Have Them Do to You. Returning to in-person classes after such a long time is new to all college students. Encourage your students to have patience whether waiting in line at the dining hall or doing laundry in the dorm.
As your students return to in-person classes, encourage them. Help them, if they want, with packing as they prepare to leave the nest to return to campus dorms and apartments. College life is not what it used to be. Everyone needs to work together to navigate the new normal as they work toward their college degrees.
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