Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
To my fellow seniors,
It’s over. Well, not quite, but it sure feels finished. Thanks to COVID-19, our college experience was cut eight weeks short. While we still have remote learning to complete, it’s not the same as being on campus for classes, club meetings and hanging out with friends.
If you’re like me, change is hard. I prefer to have time to plan, prepare and expect the change. Graduating and moving into the real world is already a big enough change. But adding COVID-19 into the mix, things get hectic and unorganized.
For any college student it’s a difficult time learning how to navigate online courses, finding a balance among working from home, schooling at home and staying productive. But for seniors, there’s an added weight of sadness that sits on our shoulders.
If you feel like you’re grieving, it’s OK. As seniors, we have lost something close to us. While there’s no denying the semester is ending differently than planned, embrace the change rather than resist it. If there’s one thing we all learned in college, it is how to overcome changes: resolve and embrace new situations.
While our campus doors closed very suddenly, here are a few tips to get through this unique transition.
Reminisce on the past, but cast your eyes toward the future.
Do you remember the first few days of your college years? Maybe you moved into the dorms or commuted, you most likely met more people during the first week than your entire life. Then suddenly, in a blink of an eye we went from being college freshmen to seniors.
As a senior, I’m so ready to graduate. It may not be what I expected, but I believe that my time at Wichita State is ready to come to an end. My professors have prepared me and given me tools to succeed outside the classroom. I’m ready to enter into the real world and begin my professional career. But, with that being said, I still need closure before moving onto the next. If you’re in the same boat, take time to remember all the great accomplishments and experiences college gave you. Then, imagine your future. Maybe your dream job isn’t what you expected four years ago, or that class you had to take opened your eyes to your real passion. Either way, imagine your ideal life and where you see yourself in one, two, five years from now. Set new goals, dream big and be excited to close the door to college
Be intentional about your quarantine time.
During the midst of our new social distancing normal, it might bring to light the friendships our college years created that matter the most. Whoever it is, celebrate together through virtual software like Facetime, Zoom, My House Party or Google Hangouts. While you may not have your cap and gown, recreate your graduation day and toast to one another for your hard-earned degree and accomplishments.
Write thank you cards.
One of my favorite professors in the Elliott School of Communication, Eric Wilson, gave a piece of advice to almost every class I had with him. The advice: “Write thank you cards.” While his words of wisdom were meant for job interviews, it also applies to our unique situation.
We’re no longer in class to shake our professor’s hands as we turn in our last final, and we won’t be able to hug our friends in celebration at graduation. But while things are running virtually, that shouldn’t stop us from thanking the people who helped get us this far. In a season when we have more time at home than we know what to do with, use some of it to write thank you cards to friends, professors, mentors and faculty who helped you along your college journey.
The global pandemic threw an unexpected curve ball our way. It’s out of the hands of the college administration, out of our professor’s hands and ours. This may not be the ending we imagined, but it doesn’t have to be without joy, celebration and gratitude.
To my fellow seniors, we did it. Congratulations, here’s to always being the coronavirus class of 2020.
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More on Mental Health on Campus:
What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need
If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help
The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis