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The fall semester is upon us (ready or not), and college life is going to look tremendously different this year. Whether you are attending community college, a large public university, a private mid-size college, or any other kind of higher education institution, it is important to be aware of how COVID-19 will affect the fall semester in 2020.
What to know
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in numerous ways, specifically impacting employment and job status, the economy, and healthcare industries. Another area that has been impacted is higher education. Classroom size, campus housing, dining halls, and athletic events are just a few examples of elements affected by the coronavirus, leaving institutions to make significant adjustments to some of the most “traditional” components of the university/college experience.
How COVID-19 will affect the fall semester
Since COVID-19 began to sweep across the United States, plans that higher education administrations have enacted have been shifted, adjusted, and re-adjusted, only to be changed again a few days later. Though it might be frustrating and confusing, it is very important that you remain patient and open-minded during these unprecedented times. Your health and safety is the top priority, and institutions are doing their best to ensure a safe learning environment upon your return.
Because every college and university is responding differently, it is not realistic to provide a full, comprehensive list of exactly how the fall semester will be impacted by COVID-19. However, you can prepare in advance by checking for updates from your respective institution. You can do this in a few ways:
- Go online to the school’s website
- Call your academic advisor, admissions officer, or other university resources
- Log into your student portal and check your email
Additionally, if you are using financial aid, the GI Bill, scholarships, or other forms of tuition assistance, make sure to contact the appropriate office to ensure that everything is squared away before the fall semester begins.
How to prepare
Attending college in the next semester might bring about significant uncertainty in many aspects of life. Therefore, I recommend you embrace the journey and focus on what you can control. This situation might challenge your adaptability and potentially test your grit and patience, so it is critical to stay flexible and open-minded as plans unfold.
Expert tip: Educate yourself on your university’s protocols to avoid being blindsided. Stay informed and make a plan.
As mentioned above, many components of higher education will need to be amended in order to ensure the safety of all students. If you will be switching to online classes, educate yourself on ways you can be successful. Some institutions are incorporating a hybrid class format while others will have a rotating system (group A attending in-person for one week, and will swap with group B the following week, for example).
Regardless of how your institution has decided to proceed, stay flexible, and remember that you are still receiving an education – it is simply in a modified format.
Check out the actionable steps below for more to-do items to set yourself up for success.
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Protocols are changing frequently. Therefore, the most important actionable step for you to take is to stay current and informed on how your institution is responding to COVID-19.
There is a lot of uncertainty right now, so we recommend you stay positive, patient, and keep an open mind. You are still receiving an education, just potentially in a modified form.
Seek assistance and stay connected
Although the fall 2020 semester might be different than what you anticipated, you still have access to your peers, instructors, and campus resources. If you have questions or are struggling in any way, seek assistance and ask for help. Take advantage of technology and arrange a virtual meeting or call with your instructors, classmates, or advisor. You are not alone!
About the Author
Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter
Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership
Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has coached hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
Full Bio | LinkedIn
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