To say this has been a challenging year for college students is an understatement. Colleges across the world have had to pivot in unprecedented ways due to global pandemic. Many colleges closed their campuses and moved all classes online. This meant that countless students conducted their college coursework from home.
This presented new problems for students, and as the first full college semester closes, we will see the impact the pandemic has on college students. For the James family, the global pandemic caused us to have to dig deep and be prayerful as we made decisions about our college freshmen. Our daughter, Maree, has had six COVID tests so far to participate in the on-campus college community.
We selected a university that is determined and aggressive on the policy and procedures to keep the campus open. What we quickly learned was that an open campus did not mean that things were business as usual. Our college freshmen had another assignment outside of her normal academic requirements. She had to learn how to make campus connections while in a pandemic. Maree decided to do a combination of on-campus and at home college for her first semester. This meant that since her classes were hybrid, remote, or online, she could be anywhere, and we took advantage of this opportunity. This meant that she had to navigate making campus connections in a limited time with limited live communities on campus.
Making Campus Connections is a tough job for introverted students who get their energy from being alone. Alone and all alone is not the same thing, and I want to share some of the intentional choices our daughter made to make campus connections in the middle of COVID.
1) Connect with professors
It’s not just about showing up in your college zoom class. It’s about having that look of enthusiasm to connect. Everything from facial expression, lighting, and engagement is now an active part of the college grading. We are all struggling in this virtual world, so any student who makes it easier for a professor to teach gets noticed. Turning in well-written assignments helps too.
We encouraged Maree to be mindful of the background she used in the house when she was home on zooms. It was also important to do her best to avoid distractions. This meant that she had to lock herself in her room so that her 5-year old sister did not interrupt with questions about who she could say hello to in the college zoom class.
2) Connect with your ethnicity
It is important to connect with people on campus who share the same ethnicity as you. It allows you to process the campus experience from a familiar perspective.
Maree participated in an on-campus program called Powerful Connections. The Powerful Connections Diversity Orientation empowers students to become a leader on campus. As an incoming first-year student, you can form lasting bonds with students, faculty, and staff alike to discover your true potential.
3) Connect with new and old friends
There may be people on campus who you knew before your college life. It is important to connect with them and enjoy spending time with people who already know you. Also, meeting new friends is so important to college life. It can be challenging, but as you identify the things you love to do, you will meet other people who enjoy doing similar things. There are sports, clubs, organizations, and special dorm communities where students who share the same major can live nearby.
Maree connected with on-campus organizations like CRU. This provides a place for students to pursue God no matter where they are in life and grow in their faith with others doing the same. This connection and many others are important even if they have to be virtual connections.