Leticia, congratulations on making that decision! Excited for what is in store for you. This is a question that many students like yourself have in mind. We have been hearing a few different things from colleges about their plans and it seems like they are making decisions for what makes sense to them and their students. For the readers, some colleges are going strictly virtual instruction for the fall, some are doing a hybrid, where students coming from far will be housed on campus and close in-staters could commute, to schools planning on resuming things back to the new normal.
What would that new normal be for students? As the summer arrives, we can expect to see a comprehensive plan from college administrators. Safety being the cornerstone of these plans. Many colleges are looking at:
- Re-visiting their sick plans to provide that safety net for faculty, staff and students.
- Are faculty and staff set up in a way that allows for isolation and continued instruction?
- How can instructors continue to provide virtual learning and engagement to students?
- Signage and guides, such as tape on floors or sidewalks, to encourage social distancing.
Classrooms will probably look differently than before to allow for distance between students. This may mean using larger lecture classes for traditional classes and perhaps smaller caps to bigger lecture classes with more sections. Students shouldn’t be surprised if they are expected to wear masks during class. One thing is for certain that students need to continue to be advocates for their own learning and take an active learning approach. This may not come as easy to students who haven’t been exposed to activities that promote these skills. Perhaps we start to see more of this during Orientations and first year experience programs.
Housing will need to get an overhaul and could mean some changes to the communities in which the college is located. My hope is that the locals would still be able to afford living in their communities. Anyways, going back to the student experience, I’d imagine that triples and doubles will not be the norm and many rooms would likely be single room occupancy. Even perhaps having a dedicated building for those who have pre-existing conditions and have a higher risk of getting infected. Resident Advisors will need to further training on how to promote good physical and mental health of students. Mental health issues have been on the rise and I am assuming COVID is lighting more of a fire on this.
Lastly, the social aspect of the college experience will be modified. My sense is that smaller events will be the norm and perhaps a greater number of events to compensate for the lower capacities. Dining halls will probably have lower capacity numbers. Dining services will need to figure out a way to manage the numbers. Some already do texting of your food order, perhaps, some tips will be taken from the big food chains. There’s no doubt the social aspect of college experience has a profound impact on anyone’s time in college and I believe it will continue to be the case, it will just look a little different. Leticia, we look forward to hearing about your time in college!