Pandemic Passages: Tackling Transitions!
Transitions are a strenuous part of life for all of us. We’ve all made transitions, whether it was moving on from kindergarten to the first grade or moving into a new house. They’re inevitable, and that is why they can be so terrifying. One transition that has always terrified students all around the world is the transition from high school to university.
University is often illustrated by society as this intimidating, complicated institution. As such, going into it can be terribly nerve-wracking. This transition has always been especially scary and difficult, but it has only been made scarier by COVID-19. As we head into the second year of the pandemic, students everywhere have had to take a step back and re-evaluate how they are going to prepare for this new chapter in their lives.
When the pandemic started, I was in grade 11; now I am a first-year university student. My last day of in-person high school was on a random Wednesday and I graduated on a Zoom call wearing sweatpants. Yes, sweatpants. You read that right. Obviously, none of us expected the pandemic to last this long. A two-week lockdown soon bled into a month and that ended up turning into a year. I never got to have a prom or a normal graduation, two rites of passage that make the transition from high school to university seem so much more exciting.
As a result, I was not very elated about attending university because I felt like I was just going into another year of headaches from staring at my screen for way too long. I never thought that my first semester of university would be like this, nor did I want it to be, because that meant that my first year was going to be harder than I had ever anticipated. Truthfully, I am actually doing better than I thought. For all of my fellow first-years, here is a list of tips on how you can prepare to try and make the transition just a little bit easier.
How Should You Prepare?
- Take some time to get to know your professors. Trust me when I say that shooting your professors a greeting email will make you feel a lot In the last few weeks of summer, I was getting so anxious about university that I had forgotten that the professors on my screen were human too – they’re just people. Emailing some professors just to say hello really helped me to realize that. Professors may be having a hard time adjusting too. Remember that we’re all in this together, professors included.
- Get to know your schedule. I would recommend having a printed copy of your schedule on you, keep it somewhere safe, yet accessible and memorable so that you don’t lose track of it. University classes are weekly, and you only have a certain lecture/tutorial once a week, which is an adjustment from high school where classes were daily. Keeping your schedule handy will be a life-saver.
- Stay alert on the COVID-19 Protocols. Some universities are having in-person classes, and some aren’t. Life during the pandemic has been very uncertain; things are constantly changing. You should definitely stay on top of your university’s protocols, so that you may keep track of your classes and whether they are in person or online. If you’re on campus, it will be extremely helpful to know what your university’s rules are for social distancing.
- Stay on top of your readings! In university, 90% of your homework is to read. Do all of your readings because that is more than half the battle. If you don’t stay on top of your tasks, you will fall behind and become piled up in work.
The First Year is Always the Hardest
Your first time doing anything is hard – like your first time riding a bike, or your first day of high school. As much as you prepare, it all comes down to you. Be patient with yourself. Remember that mistakes are there to help you to grow and learn. You may not immediately get the marks that you want; you’re going to have a lot of ups and downs, but focus on the ups. Those bad days are really what make the good days so worthwhile. University is difficult, but remember that this is your first time in it. Cut yourself some slack. Your hard work will eventually pay off, so long as you hang on.
If you’re online, it may be difficult to make friends. Try as hard as you can; participate in the introductory discussion boards, and the class chat during class. You’d be surprised at what you may have in common with people. Sometimes in university you make friends just by asking someone a question. The majority of your peers are in the same boat as you, try to be brave and reach out to them.
Transitions are always scary, and university during COVID-19 may be one of the scariest. But just follow these tips, and you’ll be ready for this next chapter in your life!
Kerr, Emma, and Travis Mitchell, and Josh Moody. “12 Ways to Prepare for Your Freshman Year of College.” U.S. News. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/slideshows/ways-to-prepare-for-your-freshman-year-of-college.
Mental Health America. “How To Transition To Remote College During The Coronavirus Outbreak.” https://mhanational.org/how-transition-remote-college-during-coronavirus-outbreak.