8 Tips for a Positive College Experience During COVID-19

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Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.

We know it’s challenging to be a college student right now. College is one of the most exciting times in your life, and the last thing you want to do is be quarantined at home. As the fall semester approaches, a lot of you are probably ready to leave home and be back with your friends.

However, a significant number of young people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications, and even if you’re asymptomatic, you can spread the disease to other people who are more vulnerable. Although it may be frustrating, it’s critical that you take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus. We understand how it might be difficult to adjust, so we’ve compiled eight tips for staying healthy throughout the school year.

Participate in Socially Distanced Activities With Friends
With gatherings likely to be limited to small sizes and the possibility of sporting events, like football games, being postponed, you might be wondering how you’ll maintain a social life this semester. While you won’t be able to participate in typical activities, there are still a few things you can do to maintain social distancing and spend time with your friends.

When you need a study break, you can play a round of Quiplash or a virtual version of your favorite board game. Additionally, if you just want to chat with your friends, you can schedule a video call and catch up.

Conduct Group Meetings Remotely
If your major requires you to do group work, or you’re part of a club, you might not be able to conduct meetings at their usual location. Some students may be taking classes from home, and your favorite hangouts might not be accessible. In order to meet with the rest of your group, you can schedule a virtual call and conduct your meetup remotely. Alternatively, if your whole team is on campus, you can have a socially distanced, outdoor meeting (with masks, of course).

Make an Alternative Study Plan
Since your usual study spot might not be open or available, you may have to alter your habits, so it’s best to start thinking about an alternative plan now. If you have a specific location where you like to work, you should consult your college’s website or ask an administrator if it will be available next semester. If your favorite places won’t be accessible, then you’ll have time to adapt your study habits before the start of the school year.

Follow Guidelines for On-Campus Dining
If you eat on campus this semester, it will probably be a different experience than what you’re used to. Your favorite dining hall may be closed, and some places may have grab-and-go options to discourage people from congregating in group settings. Whatever measures your university implements, be sure to follow those guidelines closely to keep you and other people healthy.

Adapt to Shared Housing Changes
Depending on the number of people taking virtual classes and the shared housing changes your administration is likely to make, you might have a different living arrangement than you expected. For example, you could end up living with different roommates or in a different dorm. In addition, if there are confirmed COVID-19 cases in your residential building, infected individuals may be sent to temporary housing. Furthermore, they may test everyone the infected person interacted with as a precaution.

Get Familiar With Your On-Campus COVID-19 Testing Protocols
Rice University plans on conducting COVID-19 testing with anyone who will be attending in-person classes, and the University of Houston will have tests available on campus or at a designated site. Protocols will vary, but you should get familiar with your school’s COVID-19 testing procedures in case you need to get tested.

Prepare for Changes to Your In-Person Learning Plans
Numerous colleges planned on returning to in-person learning in the fall, but many of them are now reversing their plans and pivoting to virtual learning. Factors such as community spread in your university’s town and the number of COVID-19 cases at your college could impact their plans. Consequently, you should prepare yourself for potential changes to in-person learning before or during the school year.

Take Care of Your Mental Health
In stressful times like this, you must prioritize mental health. With everything going on during the semester, you might find yourself not feeling as great as you did before school began. Stress associated with your classes and a lack of physical contact could have a negative impact on your mental health.

If you find it hard to fall asleep or have difficulty waking up in the morning, you could be experiencing quarantine fatigue, and you can try practicing the STOP technique to help reduce anxiety. Also, the CDC recommends universities continue providing mental health services, such as remote counseling. If you’re not feeling great, you should take advantage of counseling services to improve your mental health.

Stay in touch with your hometown Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician through regular virtual visits during the school year. All you need for an appointment is a device and an internet connection.

Sources:
CDC | Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Institutions of Higher Education
Houston Chronicle | Harris County young adults contracted COVID-19 at higher rates over the past month, leading to a massive spike
USA Today | College football tailgates, frat parties are 'major risk factors' for COVID-19 spread this fall, experts warn
Rice University | Message from the DOU: Update on Fall Move-In and COVID-19 Testing
University of Houston | Preparing for Fall at UH
NPR | Colleges Spent Months Planning For Fall, But A COVID-19 Surge Is Changing Everything

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