I have been getting messages from many college students and young adults asking for coaching and support in these crazy times. Here are some thoughts: Most people my age look back at their college years as the beginning of independence and forging one's own life. It was a wonderful time for us!
To college students: Most of you love college, and feel a strong identity with your school and friends. You find school challenging, but are committed to the challenge. Most of you also have supportive parents, and you are very lucky and blessed to have that, with the caveat that no family is perfect. Now, in the middle of your second semester, you have been suddenly ripped out of your independent environment and told to go home for your own safety. Seniors will have no graduation ceremony. Some of you are stuck at school, with no library or gym, on an empty, hauntingly quiet campus. You are told to socially isolate. What if you have a difficult roommate? Some of the dining halls have closed. I know one school where the only food available is in a small convenience store, and housing refunds are being offered for students who vacate the dorms. You have final exams coming up, and you’re trying to adjust to online classes! It’s hard to do that if you’re back home with the dog running through the family room, dad on the phone doing business, and your little brother throwing a mini-nerf basketball at your head. Online classes have pros and cons, but for me it would have been difficult to be at my best. I was successful in college largely because of the relationships I had with my professors. I really valued the classes, and interacting with peers. I was always asking questions, and to not have that option would be challenging. Who could ever have imagined a world pandemic where so much of your freedom and previous life would be been taken away almost overnight? Everyone is stressed, anxious, lonely, worried. That is normal. There are more and more rules and restrictions almost daily. You can’t hang out with your friends, girlfriend, boyfriend. Social distancing takes on a whole new meaning for college kids. And every day the news is more alarming! So now, here is my advice to you. First and foremost, focus and get your work done. This is still your time. Finish school despite everything. I want to acknowledge how difficult this is for all of you.
It is more stressful being home for many of you, even if you have loving families. Despite this, when I talk to you, I’m seeing appreciation for your family, responsibility, flexibility, strength and grit. I’m seeing a lot of maturity. I’m proud of you all for that!
I know many of you are homesick for school — for the independence, friends, routines. And I know those of you stuck at school are living in a reality that is nothing like what school was a month ago. I know this sounds very cliché, but hang in there. Ask for help when you need it. This includes professors, parents, admin, and friends. No one expects you to work this out on your own, without support.
Two of my siblings are college professors, and I know they love when their students reach out to them with a good attitude. So don’t feel nervous about doing that. Lean on your professors. Ask questions. Clarify what they are expecting from you. And be patient with them. They are figuring things out too. For the most part they really care about you. Also it’s good for them to keep busy, and do their jobs, while they are isolated at home.
So now, more advice (remember I’m a mom too): It is important to get daily fresh air if possible, exercise and eat healthy food. Keep your immune systems strong and your minds alert. Try to spend some time doing something fun that you enjoyed as a child (non-electronic). That alone will help you regulate your nervous systems.
Oddly enough, some boredom is good for you. It can lead to creativity. Write in a journal if you're so inclined, or practice your guitar. Boredom is a catalyst for inner growth and happiness. So please unplug — walk away from your computer and turn off your phones for an hour a day, especially when you are studying. Try it and see what happens! You will likely have better focus.
Speaking of phones, I’m on Instagram now if you want to connect with me there: @lifecoachtheresa
I’m going to be doing a live Instagram video soon. Also I'm going to offer Zoom meetings, so we can connect that way as well.
We will get through this. I’m here to help. If anyone reading this wants to try coaching with me, to help you get through the semester, I offer free sample sessions. Text me to set something up. I know you are all tech savvy enough to figure out how to find me!