For Freshmen, Adapting To College Life During A Pandemic Presents Unique Challenges

Sep 4, 2020

The class of 2020 had a lot taken from them by this pandemic. Not being able to finish their senior year was hard enough, but those students who are now college freshmen are struggling with gaining independence during these strange and unpredictable times.

The freshman year of college is usually a time of gaining freedom and experiencing young adulthood for the first time. However, in 2020, that can be difficult.

Bradley University Health Center Director Dr. Jessica Higgs, who also works for OSF HealthCare, said the pandemic is hard on a part of the population that thrives off of interacting with one another.

"Being social is very much in their nature, right now. That is the time that you're going out and meeting people, and forming those friendships. They're just really kind of starting off, as they settle into the next part of their life," she said.

Higgs said this generation, in particular, already has issues with social interaction and isolation, making the pandemic even harder on them.

"Part of that concern is that this generation is somewhat socially isolated because they spend so much time on social media," she said. "And we've really been making a push for them to get out and be more social in person. And then the pandemic hit, so that becomes a bit more complicated."

Higgs encouraged students attending school remotely to still make an effort to experience college life. She said students should meet up with other students in a socially distanced manner if possible, and participate in any virtual or socially distanced events that colleges and universities are offering.

She said attending class from home can be a daunting task, but she has some advice on making it easier.

"Having them develop a schedule, working with their online classes or in-person classes, still kind of assigning a space that is theirs, where they can feel comfortable doing their studying, doing their online classes, and set aside as being a part of school, and not being part of at home," she said.

She said taking care of your mental health is important, and recommends OSF SilverCloud, a free app thathelps people manage stress, anxiety, and depression.

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