College and Career, Student Life

How to Stay Positive About College During a Pandemic

October 23, 2020
positive about college

Guest post written by Chris Everett, NSHSS

The past 8+ months have changed the way students have had to approach, attend, and even apply to college. In the midst of a pandemic, going to college can feel scary, and many students have had to take their college education entirely online.

Students who have gone to classes in-person have faced outbreaks, strict safety precautions, and a completely different atmosphere than they were either used to before or expecting when they were accepted.

But all those changes don’t have to change your attitude!

Student Voices of America Survey

Prior to the pandemic, the National Society of High School Scholars conducted the Student Voices of America Survey, a survey of high school- and college-aged students from all over the United States, to understand how the pandemic was affecting student attitudes about college and the future.

Some of the results were bleak.

According to the survey, 32% of the 2000 students surveyed said they would not attend school in the fall if all classes were held online. 

However, most of the results pointed to a positive attitude among students.

In fact, 53% of students said that, though in-person classes are preferable, they would deal with e-learning while necessary. 

And over 80% of the students surveyed noted that they were either “Very hopeful” or “Pretty hopeful” about their ability to graduate from college, graduate on time, and secure gainful employment after graduation. 

What does this mean for you? You can do it! Whatever difficulties you’re facing while trying to attend college or prepare for college during this pandemic, you can find ways to maintain a positive attitude and look for the good wherever you can. 

After all, this pandemic won’t last forever. We hope.

5 Tips for Pandemic Positivity

Here are 5 tips to help you find positive moments during the pandemic, whether you are actively in college or preparing to attend college soon.

Keep a journal. 

Since this is such a strange but important moment in history, keep a journal of your thoughts, memories, and daily activities to have a record of what this time was like for you. You never know when you’ll want to return to those thoughts, and they will help keep you grounded in the present moment as you navigate this time.

College life is so busy, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time on this journal. Simply write down a few notes at the beginning or end of each day, or even each week. 

Use a fun notebook that really suits your personality.

You could even keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you’re grateful for at the end or beginning of each day. This will help you remember what you’re grateful for, rather than remaining bogged down in the negative aspects of your life right now.

Know your boundaries.

As you navigate college classes, either online or in-person, know where your pandemic boundaries lie and stay true to those boundaries.

That might mean you can’t take on as many leadership roles or campus organizations as you did before. It might mean that you need more sleep than usual. Or, you might not be willing to go out to meet friends under certain circumstances to keep yourself and others safe. 

Knowing and keeping your boundaries will help you maintain energy for the work you need to do to prepare for college or to complete your college courses. 

You don’t need to lock yourself away from the world entirely, but it’s important that you stay strong when expressing your boundaries so that you aren’t expelling unnecessary energy and give yourself some room to breathe.

Choose your favorite aspects of online classes.

If you are taking college classes either partially or entirely online, write down your favorite positive aspects of online learning, and remind yourself of them often.

Maybe you love being able to learn in your pajamas, in the comfort of your own room, with a more flexible schedule than you would in person.

Maybe you are more comfortable asking questions of your professor online and take advantage of that more. 

Or, maybe you love working with your fellow classmates in Zoom breakout rooms.

Find the online learning strategies that help you, and hold onto them!

Make plans for the future.

A great way to remain positive about the present is to have exciting plans for the future on the horizon. 

Even if you don’t know exactly when these plans will come to fruition, you can make them knowing that you will make them happen someday.

For example, you can plan your future study abroad trip, including which program you will go with, which countries you’ll visit, and what you plan to study.

You can plan a gap year vacation or service trip. You can even apply for scholarships to help pay for the trip.

Maybe you just want to plan what your year of school will look like after the pandemic is over, dreaming of your on-campus activities and events you’ll attend when you can gather with larger groups of fellow students.

You might even plan on an internship for next year or a research program in which you want to take part. All of these plans will keep you focused on the future so that every action you take in the present will remind you why you want to overcome the challenges of college during a pandemic.

Be kind to yourself.

Finally, be kind to yourself whenever possible. You have probably heard of this in the form of self-care, and that can mean different things to different people.

For you, self-care might be finding ways to relax through meditation, long baths, or reading a book for fun. For others, self-care might look like exercise or playing safe sports. 

In your free moments, choose activities that help you stay positive and feel balanced. Take time to get offline if you’re taking several online classes. Instead of social media, write in your journal or go on a long walk.

Remember that these are not normal times, as frustrating as that may sound. So be good to yourself and to those around you. And stay safe.

About the Author

Chris Everett is a content writer and marketing specialist for the NSHSS, an academic honor society committed to supporting young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. Follow NSHSS on Twitter or Facebook for more news and tips like these.

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