The transition to campus life is a milestone military kids tend to excel at. Family separations and frequent moves have made them adaptable, mature, and resourceful. Spending four years on the same college campus without having to change schools is a prospect many find awesome.
Suddenly they’ve found themselves coming of age in the midst of a global pandemic. Spring semester has already been disrupted, impacting their social lives, activities, and traditions — not to mention their academics. Many students find distance learning difficult and dreary, and homes tend to be filled with distractions.
Fall is fast approaching and colleges and universities around the country are still making decisions about what to do. The challenge is there’s no uniform game plan. Some schools in the same geographic areas have radically different strategies.
Many Schools Still Planning on In-Person Fall Semesters
According to a July 5, 2020 article published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 60% of colleges and universities are planning for an in-person fall semester, 23% are preparing an online-in-person hybrid plan, 8% are going online only, and the remaining 9% are still considering a range of scenarios and waiting to decide.
Helping your college-bound student sort out the situation and adjust to the new normal is no small task, especially if you’re new to navigating the world of higher education.
This situation has taken a toll on morale. According to a June 2020 survey by Junior Achievement and the PMI Educational Foundation, 49% of the Class of 2020 have changed their college plans as a result of the crisis, and 35% report they’re now less excited to go to college than they were before the pandemic.
Historically young people have flocked to colleges during recessions, but that currently isn’t the case. A significant number of students who’ve changed plans intend to work even though the job market is shaky. Taking a gap year for any reason is a serious decision because many students who opt for that break never return to school.
One popular option for staying safe and maintaining educational momentum during the pandemic is a commuter college. In addition to logistical practicality, it’s a money-saving choice.
If you’re foregoing the commuter route and sending your child away to college, you’ll need to set your minds for the new normal.
Getting Used to the New Normal
It’s especially important for students to know and understand the rules and policies up front because most schools will be taking a harder line than usual.
Students who chronically disobey the Covid-19 measures stand to be sent home. There’s a good reason for this. While young people tend to be less likely to get seriously ill from the virus, older faculty, staff members, and many citizens in the surrounding communities are vulnerable. Dining-hall staff and custodians, for example, not only face significant workplace risks, but many are part of vulnerable populations and/or live in multigenerational households.
10 Things You Can Probably Expect
Virus testing will be mandatory and anyone testing positive will be quarantined.
Social distancing will be in effect and face masks will be mandatory in some settings.
Some common areas may be closed.
Plastic barriers may be up in areas where it’s hard to stay apart.
Dorms will will be nowhere near capacity.
Single rooms will go to immuno-compromised students.
Classroom desks will be arranged six feet apart. Forget big lectures in packed auditoriums.
Class and dining hall schedules may be staggered.
An outbreak could force classes back online.
Some smaller schools may prohibit students from leaving campus.
In times like these, support from others who are facing the same challenges can be invaluable. If you’re sending a child to college this fall, you may want to join this closed and private Facebook Group: Military Kids: Growing, Going, Gone.
Caroline Sposto is a writer, actor, and the founder of Savvy Civility, an educational company that specializes in civilian role play training. She has a passion for the arts, education, and small business.