By Alyssa Walrad

College students are experiencing a particularly harsh emotional time with the coronavirus pandemic, with stress “just mounting all the time and affecting motivation,” says SUNY Delhi freshman Analiese Rinnenburg. Whether an incoming freshman or a senior anticipating graduation, COVID-19 has completely changed the education system. College years are already a pivotal time in any student’s life, so adding a global pandemic into the mix certainly can weigh on one’s shoulders. For Mount Saint Mary College senior Ashley Harley, finishing her biology degree has become “almost impossible” with the back-and-forth of online transitions that affect her ability to complete in-person lab instruction, arguably her “favorite” aspect of all the science courses. 

Blaise Guerriero, the residential support services coordinator at the University of Central Florida, works hands-on with administration and students and is a recent graduate from the University of Southern California’s Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs graduate program. With this, his academic and real-world career align to advocate for student benefits and health. Guerriero lists his top four techniques to tackle college successfully in a COVID-19 world. 

Staying connected: Make time to call/Facetime friends and family in addition to texting. Guerriero states that the face-to-face interaction “will help you feel not as alone.”

Limit distractions and simplify: Create a study/work space that will help you remain focused during meetings (i.e. no televisions, cellphones). It is often helpful to create this space in an area where you normally do not spend a lot of your time. Set a timer on your phone to limit time on social media apps (Instagram has a feature within the app itself). Harley believes making lists can make the daunting tasks that you need to get done a lot easier, while also acting as a “great visual encouragement when you cross off the tasks.” Prioritize assignments with approaching deadlines, and readily work on long-term assignments throughout the semester to avoid cramming and stressing. 

Self-care and routine: Guerriero says, “having a routine helps you feel a greater sense of normalcy” while remaining organized. Get ready for your day as if you were going to in-person classes or jobs. Wear the clothes you would be expected to wear in said environments. Eat a well balanced breakfast. If you attend Zoom meetings throughout the day, dedicate each session solely to the meeting. In between meetings, get up and move around. Get plenty of rest each night.

Know your resources: Colleges are offering a variety of new resources for students in either a limited in-person capacity, or online. Counseling centers have extended sessions, often online, and created online chat rooms to connect students with each other or counselors. Resident Assistants are there to help you adjust to dorm life, and can often be a fast-friend/connection in times of need.The Counseling Center at Mount Saint Mary College offers a variety of resources to students, including “free, confidential, short-term counseling for students seeking therapy or mental health treatment” during the semesters. Additionally, year-round health screenings, group therapy and wellness programming are offered to students at no cost. The web page lists a variety of hotlines and emergency resources for students to use at any time, and can be found under the “Mount Saint Mary College’s Counseling Services” tab. Call (845)-569-3115 to speak with Administrative Assistant Deborah Gaydos or email counseling@msmc.edu to schedule a telehealth appointment.