Going to College 101’s April topic is Connecting which is timely during this Covid19 pandemic because our daily lives have moved from real life to virtual.
- How do we connect with each other now?
- What were we good at or had issues with, when it didn’t have to be virtual?
- Is there a silver lining to communicating virtually? Can it help how we connect?
First, I’ve got to say connecting is an important aspect of going to college because students join a community with other students new to them, professors, staff who handle dining, mail, building, and other daily needs, and community members. This opportunity to learn to communicate clearly, and truly connect with others is as important as learning academically. Each student, and in fact all of us begin “how do we connect with each other now?” with how well we currently communicate clearly and truly connect with others.
Second, how do we as students, parents, and counselors connect now? Do people in your life tell you they don’t understand what you mean often, or do they tell you they always feel understood, or do you feel invisible because it seems like no one knows you’re there?
Think about this scenario: you’ve been sitting in a meeting or class and have a question at the end. What do you usually do?
If you usually confidently approach the presenter, the person who brought up the point, or professor with a clear question then you will virtually do that verbally, or through chat, or with a follow-up email. If you haven’t felt comfortable asking the question before Covid19 you may feel more comfortable not needing to use your voice, and this is the opportunity to work on becoming clear with how you ask the question. Then you can practice using your voice. This is breaking things into manageable steps.
Finally, our immune systems need to stay healthy, making finding silver linings preferable to having a defeated or negative attitude about this situation. Is there a silver lining in how we are communicating with each other now?
High school students and college students, in many cases, are living 24/7 with their parents under the same roof. This is communication on steroids, or perhaps a better way of looking at it is family on steroids. Boundaries in school and work have vaporized yet class and work goals remain in place, perhaps with some wonky ways of meeting the goals. It may not be clear who is piloting the boat.
Students and parents have been robbed of graduations and other markers, and have no long term plan at the moment. Feelings can become raw as we march ahead through this pandemic. People can’t just go out with friends or even get some solitude in a healthy way.
So, it makes sense to lay some communication ground rules. Focus on questions you can ask right now, pace yourself and don’t get caught up in planning for a long term that will get here a step at a time.
Do you miss being in school, as a student, teacher, or counselor–in person? As a student or parent what were you hoping to find in a college visit, and how were you going to do that?
Does a celebration need to happen in the same way you’ve always experienced it? What feels comfortable and uncomfortable about communicating and connecting virtually with each other?
I’m asking so many questions because we are living a new scenario, and when we ask ourselves questions we can figure out what works like always, and what new strategies we need to learn.