Colleges and universities have released Fall 2020 plans with strict rules and regulations to follow while living on campus. Students may worry about how this will affect their social lives at school. With slight adjustments and a positive attitude, students will be able to keep up with their beloved friends.
Every college and university across the U.S. is figuring out how to get students back on campus in the fall.
This means creating strict rules and regulations to ensure safety and good health for each and every member on campus. This also means college life will not be anything like the kind that students know and love.
As August is approaching fast, more and more schools have released news about their Fall 2020 plans. Many academic calendars are starting earlier and ending after Thanksgiving break.
Students are expected to work for 14 weeks straight with no holidays off. It’s no wonder students everywhere are upset; campus life is practically nonexistent.
What is campus life going to look like?
When looking at the fall plans for universities like SUNYs Plattsburgh and Binghamton, UMass Amherst, Syracuse, Florida State, UC Berkeley, Washington State, and more, there are many common rules and regulations students must follow.
Prior to students’ arrival, most universities will require anyone who is living on campus to sign an agreement pledging their willingness to comply with stated behaviors and actions.
This may include wearing masks when outside of the student’s assigned room, submitting daily screenings of symptoms, avoiding large group gatherings, and social distancing whenever possible.
In addition, universities are encouraging, if not requiring, students to test for COVID-19 immediately prior to returning to campus or upon their arrival. The goal is to be proactive in controlling COVID on campus by testing and isolating infected people in allocated dorms.
The testing plans of many college campuses include testing as students arrive on campus, symptomatic testing, and ongoing and regular testing for everyone on campus throughout the semester.
Once living on campus, residents are only allowed in their assigned halls. Common areas will have reduced capacity with masks and physical distancing required, and security desks will be staffed 24/7.
On top of these safety regulations, most dorms are not allowing any guests, meaning someone who does not live in that building.
Recently, the presidents of colleges that are part of the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) voted unanimously to suspend conference play until January 2021.
Many other conferences joined the NEWMAC in making this decision, with the health and safety of college communities as the guiding principle.
No decision has been made regarding winter or spring seasons at this time; however, it has been decided by the NEWMAC that competition will not begin until at least January 2021.
Depending on NCAA and NEWMAC decisions on fall sports, there may be a possibility for fall teams to compete in the spring sports season of 2021.
All students and staff are encouraged to limit travel to the local area around their school, and they may be required to report travel outside of a certain mileage range.
Social life on campus will be very different than past semesters. With clubs, activities, and events being remote, and many sports seasons being canceled, campuses are being opened for one reason: to go to in-person classes, if necessary.
How are students expected to enjoy themselves?
Concerts and plays are going to be the last social activity to be allowed. Video games, sports, and movie nights will have to be online. Even memories students make at dinner together may be obsolete if dining halls are based on a grab-and-go system.
Here’s what we have left: a bunch of college kids who have been stuck inside for so long it feels like their social skills are nonexistent.
Coming up with ways to still have fun with friends is probably the last thing a student would want to do after a long day of school work. In order to make life easier, here’s a list of nine ways to keep a social life and follow the new rules and regulations while living on campus.
- Meals on the Quad. Find a time to grab food at the dining hall and eat outside if the weather is nice. This allows the group to sit far enough apart while still being together. If it’s cold or rainy, find an open campus building and sit in its study area.
- Dinner Dates. Sometimes getting together with friends and cooking dinner is exactly what a student needs to end their day. Instead of doing it in person, you can set up a group video call where everyone cooks and eats the same meal in their own rooms.
- Hikes. The best way to keep in touch with a gym buddy while the facilities are closed is to go on hikes together. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to find local areas and explore.
- Video Games on Group Video Calls. There are a ton of online games that allow friends to compete. The app, House Party, is a great way for people to play Word Racers, Heads Up!, Trivia, Quick Draw, Chips and Guac, or Magic 8 Ball. Mario Kart Tour is available in the app store if it’s not possible to get together to play in person. Friends who live in the same building can meet up in a common area and hook up a gaming console to the TV. Masks will be required, but at least it’s something!
- Virtual Escape Rooms. Escape rooms are a great way to bond with friends and work together. There are many escape room apps that are usually done individually; however, you could set up a group call and figure them out together. Here’s one that’s based on Hogwarts from Harry Potter.
- Netflix Party. Everyone likes to binge-watch a show. The Google Chrome extension Netflix Party allows friends to do that synchronously from their own bedrooms. It will pause at the same time on everyone’s screen, and it even has a chat to talk in.
- Movie Night on Google Hangouts. Many people miss seeing the latest films in theaters. Thankfully, streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus have been releasing new films for everyone to enjoy. Set up a Google Hangouts or Zoom call and rent the new releases on Amazon, then split the cost. A bonus of this method is that it will help you save the money you would have spent on overpriced tickets, candy, and popcorn.
- BBQ in a Park. Who doesn’t like a good barbecue? While the weather is nice, small groups of friends can meet up in a local park for a quick party. If the group is of age, make sure to know the state laws for public drinking.
- Get Wasted on Zoom. If the weather is cold, Zoom is a great way to meet up with a large group of people for a virtual party. There are many games with just a few modifications that can be excellent drinking games. A game based on Cards Against Humanity called All Bad Cards is available online for free. Never Have I Ever, Would You Rather, and Most Likely To are classic party games that never get old. Drunk Pirate is also available to spice up a Zoom call in seconds flat with its hilarious demands on who drinks when. It’s even possible to set up a tournament of Cup Pong through Game Pigeon’s app on an iPhone.
Friends who live in the same building have more advantages than those who don’t. Nowhere does it say people who live in the same building can’t go to each other’s room (unless stated otherwise by the university).
Instead of going out to parties, get a few good friends to one dorm room. Instead of going to football games, set up a small watch party. Make the best of a hard situation.
None of these activities compare to how college life was before the pandemic. Unfortunately, no one knows when or if things will ever return to normal.
If students keep their spirits up, wear a mask, and follow the rules, college can and will still be fun. Stick together to get the country back on track, and next year, hopefully, college life will return to normal.
Is Rate My Professors Worth the Hassle? 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It
When it comes to choosing classes, students often turn to Rate My Professors to learn more about which professors and courses to take. However, with lack of accurate information and biased opinions, Rate My Professors isn’t as helpful as students think.
Class schedules are the bane of a college student’s existence. Creating a perfect one is impossible and picking professors is a gamble. Unless students can see the future, they won’t know if a class is going to be interesting or if the teaching style is going to be boring.
Students have to create backup schedules and sometimes even backups to the backup schedule. It’s unpredictable. The only way to get some insight into the process is by doing research.
There are a couple of ways students can guess at how a class will be. First, universities provide descriptions of courses, and departments post more specific information on their own websites. This usually helps students decide if the material will be interesting and something they want to learn.
The other way to gain perspective on a class is through other students. Turning to friends who have had the professor or taken the specific course before can be useful. However, with large universities, a friend may not have even heard of the one in question. So, students then turn to the “trusty” old site, Rate My Professors.
Rate My Professors is a website where anonymous users post reviews on professors and their courses so that others can gain insight. People have been using this site for over a decade, ranking quality and difficulty of the class on a scale of five with a brief explanation.
The problem with this site is that it’s really inaccurate. Relying solely on this information is a mistake. Students shouldn’t trust Rate My Professors, and here’s why:
1. Posts are outdated.
Sometimes, users haven’t posted about a professor in years. Julia Keefer from New York University has 6 ratings, the newest from 2010. Similarly, Michael Himes from Boston College hasn’t been rated since 2011.
These professors still teach at the universities yet they are being judged by opinions from ten years ago. Teaching styles, material, and people change over the years. It is inaccurate to trust opinions that are so old.
2.Opinions are the extremes.
When someone posts a review on a restaurant, they either loved it or had the worst dinner of their life. The same goes for Rate My Professors. Alan Fridlund from the University of California Santa Barbara is, as one student puts it, “a divisive professor. Some people love his humor and passion for the subject while others hate his politics.”
His ratings are all over the place. Some give him a 4.0 to 5.0 quality rating while others give him 3.0 or even a 1.0. They say he is a “Very funny guy, [and] makes what he talks about seem very interesting.”
However, a student also said, “I found many things he said to be quite inaccurate in his lectures. His Republican viewpoints often collided with his teachings, and he misinformed so many students.” With drastic viewpoints, Fridlund seems questionable. Which review should potential students for his classes trust?
3.Few ratings give good (or bad) overall reviews.
With any collection of data, the more input, the better the conclusion. Professors can have hundreds of ratings, which provides a more accurate judgment, but they can also have as few as three or less.
Cameron Myler from New York University has one rating, which happens to be a good one. This gives Myler an overall quality of 5.0. However her fellow colleague Jing Yang, also has one rating that gives her an overall quality of 3.0.
4.Professors have no reviews or a page.
Some professors don’t have any reviews at all, as is the case for Lisa Samuel from New York University. There are also times where they do not even have a page on the site, like Elena Kalodner-Martin from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This can make students jump to the conclusion that the professor is new to the school and lacks experience, which can deter them from taking the class.
5.The course isn’t reviewed.
Specific courses oftentimes don’t have any reviews, but the professor is rated on others. Judging them based on a different class is jumping to conclusions. They may teach a 100 level course in a completely different way than an upper-level one.
6.Users don’t provide details.
Students can be lazy. They want to help other college kids, but they don’t want to put in too much effort. Descriptions on Rate My Professors can be very short. For Harold Peterson from Boston College, his three reviews say, “Best professor ever,” one is blank, and, “Very easy. Don’t take anyone else for Principles of Economics.” Judging Peterson based on those few words is unfair.
If students are going to use Rate My Professors, they have to look beyond the site. They shouldn’t trust these anonymous opinions alone. University websites provide professors’ profiles through faculty directories. This gives more information on their qualifications, accomplishments, and personality.
Students can also ask classmates that they’ve worked with before. Asking others within a major, increases the likelihood that they have taken the course or had the professor. Alternatively, students can post in Facebook groups to see what other peers who’ve recently taken classes with the professor have to say.
In the end, picking a professor is still a guessing game. Thankfully, the Add/Drop period at the beginning of the semester allows students to change their mind after attending the class a few times. It’s okay to change a schedule once the semester begins. Students have to be happy with their courses in order to gain the most from them and keep a healthy mind.
Are Ethical Fashion Brands the Solution for a Better World?
Fast fashion brands have grown in popularity for their low-cost clothing and convenient accessibility online. However, these brands bring about major consequences in the world. From maltreatment of workers to heavy environmental damage.
First, the workers in the fast fashion industry are often underpaid and overworked. Some are abused and must work in poor conditions, such as overseas. Human beings should not have to undergo this brutal treatment or face such exploitation. Instead, they should be paid fair labor wages for their hard work, time, and efforts.
In addition to this, fast fashion heavily contributes to the pollution of our water. After fast fashion brands manufacture clothes made of synthetic fabrics, consumers buy them and wash them. Every time someone washes these materials, it leads to polyester pollution.
Since the water inside washing machines, which is now contaminated with microfibers from these synthetic fabrics, streams into fresh bodies of water, a large portion of wildlife actually ingest these unhealthy and inorganic fabrics.
Another impact on the environment is excessive waste. These fast fashion companies produce clothing in bulk, leading to more than what is necessary.
If people don’t buy all of the excess inventory, then it goes to waste. The clothing made of synthetic fabrics is incinerated or goes to landfills and never decomposes.
Lastly, the fashion industry is responsible for 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion also uses up 79 billion cubic meters of fresh water every year. All of these factors are destroying the Earth’s ecosystem.
These effects make it important for all of us to do our part in decreasing our consumption of the industry. Thankfully, there are many ways to address the problems above.
First, you can do research on different brands with the help of the internet. You can find out if your go-to stores are actually the perpetrators of workplace abuse and stop shopping there, and research brands that are kind and caring towards their employees.
With more research, you can also look for organic and vegan brands. Their fabrics, which most likely consist of organic cotton, won’t do as much damage to the Earth. There are hundreds of these stores out there, and with online shopping, it’s easy to buy from them.
Another environmentally friendly option is shopping at thrift stores. They sell gently used clothing that isn’t ready to be thrown away. If you live in a big city, there are many thrift stores you can visit. There are also online thrift stores such as ThredUP, Poshmark, and Depop.
When thrifting, you can find unique and vintage items that can’t be found elsewhere. This can upgrade your closet significantly.
In a similar vein, you can rent or borrow clothes online. Apps like My Wardrobe Hq enables people to borrow clothes from each other. An American company called Rent the Runway allows people to use designer clothes for events. These clothing methods lead to less fast fashion consumption and less clothing waste.
Sometimes, you won’t want an item anymore even if it is still in good quality to wear. Instead of throwing it away, you can give it to someone who wants it. Decrease waste by donating your old clothes to charity or taking them to thrift stores.
You can decrease water waste by washing your clothes less often. This puts less fibers into the environment and keeps your clothes in better shape. Fewer washes mean less damage to your clothes. It’s also the perfect excuse for less laundry and fewer chores to do.
All the ways above can be integrated into your lifestyle and shopping habits. The shift doesn’t have to be overnight but can happen in waves. Every action counts and leads toward a better world. We can all do something to decrease our support for fast fashion and shop more sustainably. With these ethical fashion practices, we can make a huge difference.
How the pandemic will contribute to negative social-emotional development
During this pandemic, students across the country have lamented their lack of social interactions, missed their friends, and developed new hobbies to fill their days. The assumption has always been that COVID-19 quarantine is temporary.
Soon, students will be back on campus and the social scene they’ve been missing for the past several months will roar back to life. But by the time life does get back to “normal,” they may have missed out on something much more permanent: growing up.
Usually, when we think of social-emotional development, we think of babies learning to decode facial expressions or to play with other kids their age. But in actuality, we continue to grow and develop emotionally our entire lives, and one of the most pivotal moments in that development is during college.
This kind of development is another perhaps unavoidable casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone, from kindergartners to college students, has been pulled from their development and left stagnant in safe and unchallenging social isolation.
For college-age people, this is the period of your life where you are supposed to finally grow up. You might learn to live alone or make friends independent of your family. But throughout you have an institution that, if it’s doing its job right, provides you with a little safety net should you fail.
The social-emotional development college students gain is hard to measure but incredibly important. It helps students thrive in a non-academic setting, fostering healthy relationships and learning to independently manage themselves.
There are few other times in students’ lives where they can learn to build that network of support around themselves, knowing that they still have an institution to fall back on.
During this pandemic, many students came back home, their fellow students scattering across the country and the world. One consequence of returning to a childhood home is the risk of reverting back to high school years and lifestyles. In college, many students develop their personalities and new responsibilities that may be stripped away upon returning home.
Social worker, Claire Lerner, wrote in Psychology Today that noticeable regression in children during times of stress is very common, particularly in the time of COVID-19 where stress seems to permeate the air. Even as someone who is technically an adult, when students aren’t in an environment that promotes growth, then it’s all the easier to backslide or at the very least, remain stagnant.
And social-emotional development isn’t just a meaningless phrase—it can have real importance both academically and professionally. One famous study in the Journal of Counseling & Development found that emotional growth was a better indicator of students persisting (not dropping out) than just academic success.
Students who are well-adjusted are able to cope with the stress of academics and social situations in college, and presumably, the real world better than students who merely get good grades and test scores.
According to another study in the Social Innovations Journal, the real value of a college degree is not necessarily just knowledge actively gained, but in the emotional intelligence and maturity achieved.
David Castro and Cynthia Clyde, the authors of the study, wrote that college is really about learning soft skills, not just technical expertise that is often more job-specific. With school going virtual, students are missing out on the opportunity to develop many of the skills they pointed out like, “communication, negotiation, the ability to work in teams and team-building itself.”
As long as social distancing and isolation continue, students will continue to miss out on deeply important social connections and moments of emotional growth. As more and more universities unveil their plans for fall, it looks like fall will be a new edition of “Zoom school” for students around the country.
The only way for schools to safely reopen is if this virus is stopped in its tracks, and this seems to be quite a challenge for the United States as is has so far, failed to do so. Face-to-face interactions are priceless and an essential part of the college experience. Social distancing is not just about missing your friends—it’s also about losing the chance to transition naturally into adulthood.
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