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College Life

The New College Life: Reflecting on my Siblings’ Experience with Remote Learning

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Many screens depicting online learning, graduation, school, and learning

Students studying abroad during the outbreak of COVID-19 had a unique experience dealing with travel bans and new school regulations. My brother was studying abroad in Italy. Andrea, the youngest, was living in her dorm at NYU.

My other sister, Silvia, was working as a professor at a community college in New York City. Though we all live in separate homes in Westchester County, New York, we all share one major experience: living in the college remote learning environment since the outbreak of COVID-19. 

In March 2020, the college life they had always known changed unexpectedly. My siblings and I began to study online. But, their lives changed in a more drastic way than mine. I was used to remote learning; they were not.

I was used to the sedentary home life; they were used to the agitated, turbulent, and exciting life of studying and working in populous cities. My brother had to return from the city of Rome before the semester ended. Andrea left her dorm and her freedom on March 11, when most schools closed due to the pandemic. And, my sister Silvia, stopped commuting to New York City to teach Sociology.

Six months passed, and what they had known of their lives as college students was gone. “Studying in Rome was the greatest and scariest thing of my life,” Angel said. “In Italy, things were getting worse each day. I feel lucky.” Now, Angel gets up in the morning to attend classes in his room where his desk is. “It’s easier to get more distracted when you take online classes,” he said.

Andrea completed her secondary education in Westchester County and was very excited to experience college life at NYU. “I didn’t want to leave my dorm and my school, my friends, but I had to,” she said, disappointed. The college life she dreamed of, only lasted for about seven months before she had to go back home. 

Andrea’s bed at NYU’s dorm with several pillows on top of a striped blanket and pillow sheet set. She spends most of her time here due to remote learning.
Source: Ivonne Scaglione

Angel and Andrea are among the many college students who began studying remotely since March. “Only one of my seven closest friends will be attending classes on campus,” Andrea said. Universities in the city of New York are giving students the option to either study in person or remotely.

The NYU Office of Admission indicated that most of the school’s current college students take at least one class online. It seems clear, as we look at the people around us, that the world of remote learning has expanded. 

Besides students having to adapt to their new learning environment, professors, like Silvia, are also adapting to their new work-life conditions. Many professors like her had no previous experience teaching online.

“Sometimes, it’s difficult for me to keep students engaged,” said Silvia.

She attended virtual trainings by Columbia University that focused on teaching classes online to college students. “It’s important to establish a community in an online classroom,” said Silvia. Building a community is making the class friendly where students feel free to share their thoughts.

The goal of teaching remotely while building a community is for students to feel comfortable enough to reflect on the topics discussed in class freely. “I want to make time and space for them to share their thoughts,” said Silvia determinedly.  Since there is less human interaction with remote learning, it is necessary to build a virtual community to keep that sense of human connection. 

The community college where Silvia teaches offers both classes in person and online; however, her department, Sociology, will be offering only remote learning. “About 83 percent of students in this community college will be studying online this semester,” said Silvia. Counselors and writing centers are seeing students online only and the library is open by appointments only. 

The environment of college life before the pandemic has clearly changed. Yet, in a positive note, Silvia noticed that learning remotely brings flexibility for low-income families. She mentioned that one of her students is a new mother who sometimes asks to shut off her camera to breastfeed her baby.

If there weren’t new opportunities to learn online, there would be less flexibility for her to continue her education. Unfortunately, there are disadvantages to remote learning in low-income families too. Lacking a private space to study and WIFI connectivity are among these disadvantages.

“Some of my students have to go inside cars to find a private and quiet place to learn,” said Silvia. 

Recently, Andrea went back to NYU to visit a friend. She realized how much NYU had changed since she left it in March. “There was a COVID Testing Center,” she said surprised. The noisy, vigorous Starbucks was empty.

There are no seating commodities anymore. Students are prohibited to visit another student’s dorm, and as expected, students are mandated to wear masks. She misses the late nights talking with friends, tasting the freedom of college life.

NYU COVID Testing Center - beautiful brown building with man windows overlooking a quiet courtyard with several people walking by
Source: Ivonne Scaglione

As opposed to the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, this pandemic came in a good time for education access. The US Department of Education found that 89 percent of all households in the United States have internet access.

About 6.9 million students were taking classes in the Fall semester of 2018. This fall, about 19.7 million students are attending colleges and universities nationwide. We can assume that at least 50 percent of these students are attending classes online. 

 “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change,” Biologist Charles Darwin said about his theory on the Survival of the Fittest. As college students pursue their careers online or on campus, they also adapt to be part of a safer future.

Before this time, humanity showed its great resilience to survive wars. Now, college students are fighting a battle against invisible infectious agents. This proves that this generation is tough. This generation fights disease through adaptation. It fights to prevail. It fights for existence. 

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College Life

30 Amazing Gifts for College Girls in Your Life-The Ultimate 2021 Guide

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Buying the right gift for any girl in your life is not an easy feat, especially if she happens to be a college girl.  

Why? You may ask

Because college is a fascinating yet weird time where college girls are constantly evolving in many aspects of their lives, and it can be hard sometimes for our loved ones to keep up with the changes. 

Whether you are struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift that will help her end the year on a high or a birthday gift that will put a smile on her face, this gift guide is for you.

Our gift guide includes some of the most popular items out there. It will help you choose the best gifts for college girls. You will not be disappointed

1. Portable Phone Charger

 

 

No one goes anywhere without their phone. Also, college students are frequently on their devices. With that comes the constant need to make sure your phone is charged. A portable phone charger is one of the best gifts for a college girl.

 

She can take this with her in her purse or backpack so she can charge her phone wherever she is. Just plug a charging cord into the power bank and she is good to go. Selfie-taking, social media checking or text messaging can continue––no matter the battery percentage.

 

 

2. Charging Station

 

 

Having to charge multiple devices at the same place can be frustrating. The cords can tangle, and having to find space and plugs for all of them can be difficult, especially if you are in a dorm. 

That is why a charging station for all of her devices can be very useful in a single spot. She can place this on her desk or dresser and charge everything in one compact area. This is a smart, problem-solving idea.

 

3. Iced Coffee Maker

 

 

A way to help save your favorite college student money on coffee is to buy her an iced coffee maker. She can make her favorite caffeinated beverage in her dorm room or apartment. 

This useful appliance can be small and easily stored, saving space. She can make iced coffee or cold brew, whatever she prefers.

 

4. Coffee Tumbler

 

 

Coffee tends to be the caffeination method of choice after a late night of studying or Netflix bingeing. With the constant need for caffeine comes the need to have something to take their caffeinated beverages on the go.

 

That is why a coffee tumbler is a perfect gift. Pairing a tumbler with an iced coffee maker can make a caffeine-addicted girl’s day. 

They can come in different sizes, colors, with a straw or without a straw. You can find one that fits her personality and lifestyle perfectly.

 

5. You are Loved’ Coffee Mug

 

 

Again, caffeine addiction is the norm for college students, so get her this mug! It showcases how much she is loved and cared for, even though you may not be together.

 It may seem cheesy, but she will adore it. Plus, it is never too late to start building up a mug collection.

 

6. Coffee Gift Cards

 

 

As mentioned above, caffeine and coffee are essential parts of a college student’s day. That means a lot of money is spent buying coffee from their favorite coffee places. 

 

A gift card to their favorite coffee spot is great for college girls. If they are going to buy coffee at least a few times a week, no matter what, a gift card will help save them a few dollars. 

 

7. Water Bottle

 

 

Hydration is very important, especially after consuming substantial amounts of coffee. And sometimes with a busy schedule, it can be hard to remember to drink enough water. 

Plastic water bottles can get expensive and are bad for the environment, which is why every college girl needs a reusable bottle.

 

Not only will this remind her to stay hydrated, but it lowers the amount of waste she is producing and saves her money. 

Also, getting one with time markers on the bottle will motivate her to drink her water throughout the day. Mixing that with the various color, size and design options creates the best gift. 

 

8. Reusable Straws

 

 

These have been on the rise over the last few years. Whether it’s a metal straw or a rubber straw, many people are buying their own reusable ones. 

So this is definitely one of the best gifts for a college girl if she does not already have her own set.

 

They are easy to clean for those who live in dorms, especially if they come with a cleaning brush. 

It is also an environmentally friendly replacement for plastic straws. These straws can be perfectly gifted with a water tumbler. 

 

9. Notebooks

 

 

With classes comes the need to take notes. While some may prefer to take notes on a laptop, taking hand-written notes can help students process concepts more easily. 

 

Notebooks do not have to be boring-colored; there are so many different colors and designs. This is one of the best gifts for college girls.

You can find one that represents her personality and will make note-taking a little less boring. 

Find a floral print, bright color, one with a geometric pattern, or even one you can put her name on. Help make her semester brighter with a fun notebook. 

 

10. Bath Bombs

 

 

Who doesn’t love a relaxing bath after a long week of classes? A set of bath bombs allows for anyone to upgrade their weekend relaxation. 

Bath bombs not only add color to the bath but also contain elements like essential oils, Epsom salt, cocoa butter or coconut oil. 

These allow for the optimal relaxation experience for every college girl. A set of bath bombs in various scents is just what she needs.

 

11. Leggings

 

 

College girls are all about comfy clothes. That means leggings are a great gift for them. They can never have enough pairs of leggings. 

They may already have five pairs of black leggings, but one more pair would not hurt. Get her a pair in a unique color or with a fun design on the leg to change up the collection.

 If they have pockets, that is a plus. Comfort is key, and leggings are just that. 

 

12. Weighted Blanket

 

 

Everyone needs a blanket. A weighted blanket is a unique blanket that contains a layer of glass beads that makes the blanket heavier. 

The blanket is supposed to help you relax and sleep better. The dorm beds are not always the comfiest, and adjusting to a new bed may be difficult. 

So, this blanket may help make adjusting easier. The weighted blanket has become popular over the last few years, making this a top gift for any college girl. 

 

13. The Comfy 

 

 

This is the perfect gift for any college girl that lives for comfy clothes. This is an oversized, hooded blanket sweatshirt. It will keep her warm and cozy at all times. 

The Comfy is perfect for lounging around while doing schoolwork or watching movies. It comes in various colors and is one-size-fits-all. 

Give her the gift of ultimate comfort with The Comfy.

 

14. Bluetooth Speaker 

 

 

Who does not love music? The love of music brings us to the next item on our list: a Bluetooth speaker. 

She can blast her favorite songs, dance like nobody’s watching or play some study tunes as she does work. 

A Bluetooth speaker is a must-have for any college student. It can turn any situation, even just hanging out in your room alone, into a party. 

 

15. Bluetooth Headphones 

 

 

Bluetooth headphones are a good on-to-go alternative to a Bluetooth speaker. 

Most people love to walk to and from class listening to their favorite music. So, Bluetooth headphones or earbuds are a perfect gift for any college girl.

 

They have various styles and brands that range in price online. Whether she likes over-the-ear headphones or in-ear earbuds, there are ones that will be just right for her. 

Easy to store and to throw in a bag, these are the perfect gift for any music-loving girl. 

 

16. Jade Roller 

 

 

Jade rollers have become more popular over the last year or so. If she does not already have one, the college girl in your life will love this. 

This is for your face and eyes. It is supposed to massage your face, remove wrinkles, make your face look younger, rejuvenate the skin, help with blood circulation, etc. 

This is the perfect present for girls who are especially into skincare. 

 

17. Laptop Case

 

 

This gift is useful and cute. Students do a lot of work on their laptops, especially with online classes. 

Keeping that important device protected is important, making a laptop case one of the best gifts for a college girl.

 

However, it does not have to be a boring case. 

They have them in many different colors or patterns, and some even come with a keyboard color. They can even add some stickers to make it more personalized. 

 

18. Portable Laptop Desk

 

 

Doing lots of work on a laptop means finding the best place to sit and put the device. While a desk or table is logical, it can get boring or uncomfortable. 

Getting her a portable laptop desk will allow her to change where she does her work while also having a sturdy place.

 

It can elevate the laptop to prevent her from getting pain from hunching over and has cushions so she can place it on her lap comfortably.

 It may even have pockets where she can put her phone or other devices. The size will allow her to take it from room to room, depending on where she wants to work. She will love this useful gift. 

 

19. Overnight Duffle 

 

 

A great overnight bag is always good for everyone to have. However, for college girls, having a bag to use when they visit home or friends is important. 

Get her a bag that can be easily transported to and from campus and can hold everything she may possibly bring. If she has a bag, she may visit you more, which is a bonus. 

Also, if it has a matching bag for toiletries, that is useful. Get her an overnight bag to make visits from your favorite girl easier. 

 

20. Smartphone Picture Printer

 

 

Pictures capture some of our favorite memories. They are also a great way to decorate a dorm room or bedroom. 

However, sometimes having to go somewhere to have pictures printed can prevent us from having all the pictures we want.

 

However, a picture printer that prints photos from a phone through Bluetooth can solve that problem. 

This printer will allow her to print out every selfie she takes of herself or with her friends, pictures from her favorite vacation, spots on campus or memories with her family. 

She can do this from the comfort of her room. All she needs is her phone and some photos she wants to print. 

 

21. Photo Clip String Lights

 

 

String lights are another popular decoration among college girls’ rooms. This set of string lights allows for her to hang her favorite pictures from the lights. 

She can take the photos from her personal photo printer and hang them from her lights, making the perfect combination. 

 

22. Skincare Facemasks

 

 

Skincare is important for many people, especially college girls. This means one of the best gifts for her is some sort of a facemask. 

It can be a sheet mask, peel-off mask or clay mask. There are several different brands and types out there that have different benefits. 

While she’s in college, a set of facemasks is a great addition to not only a girl’s skincare routine but also her self-care and relaxation routine.

 

23. Light Up Make-up Mirror

 

 

Having a good mirror to do hair and make-up in is crucial. 

This mirror is perfect for college girls, especially if they do not have their own bathroom in their dorm rooms. 

They can store it until they need it. The lights will help give her the perfect lighting for getting ready before she leaves for the day. 

 

24. Tapestry

 

 

A tapestry is a staple in any college girl’s room. This is an easy way to personalize a space. 

If she does not already have one or several tapestries, your girl will love this present. The possibilities of what you can get on a tapestry are endless. 

It can be floral, space-themed, spiritual, a quote, a face, a random pattern, colorful, black and white, large, small and more. Whatever her interests are, chances are there is a tapestry that will match.

 

25. Snackbox 

 

 

Who doesn’t love snacks? College girls will always appreciate free snacks. So give her the gift of a care package full of them. 

A box full of her favorite chips, cookies, crackers or candy is just what she needs to help get her through her classes. 

These snacks will be perfect between and during classes, while watching a movie, or for some late-night study sessions. The snacks will not go to waste, that is for sure. 

 

26. Five-Year Memory Journal

 

 

The memories you make in college are some that you are going to want to remember forever. A five-year memory journal allows for any college girl to document her years at school and maybe even sometime after.

 

This gift allows her to write down one a line every day for five years, summarizing her day so she can then look at it years later. 

This unique and sentimental gift provides a way to document some of the most formative years in a girl’s life. 

 

27. Going Places Necklace

 

 

This item is perfect for this list. It has a compass charm that symbolizes personal strength despite the distance between loved ones. 

The necklace is simple and the perfect gift to remind her of how strong she is. Also, who doesn’t love a good, simple gold necklace? 

 

28. Name Bracelet 

 

 

Another piece of simple jewelry that is a great gift for any college girl, a personalized bracelet is a simple yet sentimental offering. 

It is something that is special just for her. It can be worn almost every day, and she’ll think of you when she wears it. 

 

29. To-do List Notepad

 

 

College can be stressful and overwhelming. Staying organized is important, and this next idea can help. 

A to-do list notepad is a way she can write down what she needs to plan and accomplish every day. On some to-do lists, she can even break her day down by the hour. 

This way, she can do everything she needs to do in one place and can cross things off as she accomplishes them, making a to-do list a simple and useful gift. 

 

30. “The Easy College Cookbook”

 

 

Figuring out what to cook and how to cook can be stressful when you are a student and time is very limited. That’s why a cookbook is next on the list of best gifts. 

This cookbook provides her with 75 recipes for students, especially those who live on campus. 

You may not be there to teach her how to cook, but you can give her a book that will help her prep tasty college meals

 

That ‘s a wrap. This post was all about the best gifts for any college girl. Hopefully, it helps you find the perfect present.

 

Not everyone is the same, but these ideas will be useful in some way.

This is just a starting list; you can tailor it to fit what will work best for her. However, do not overthink it. Whatever you pick out, she will appreciate it because it’s from Y-O-U.

 

Did you like the article?

If the gift guide was helpful for you, please share the love on social media. 

 

 

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College Life

10 Reasons Why Being a Working Student is Actually Good

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Being a working student in college can feel like an insurmountable amount of work. Long shifts at late hours, tough customers, scrutinizing managers, and homework stress are all struggles that students face while balancing work and school.

What we need to acknowledge, however, are all the benefits that students gain from working alongside their studies. From social opportunities to higher post-college salaries, here are a few reasons why being a working student in college is actually a good thing. 

1. Work experience

Whether working at a coffee shop on campus, or in an internship related to your major, you are gaining valuable work experience. Not only are you adding to your resume, but you are also gaining skills for later down the road.

Chaili Trentham, a program coordinator at Azusa Pacific University states, “a job in college provides the opportunity to put your learning from your classes into practice, or gain practical skill sets that may not be directly linked to your coursework, yet rounds out your experience.”

While it may feel like an additional burden at times to have work on top of your studies, it is important to remember that you are also learning at your job.

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2. Potential friendships

Work is a great place to make friends, because you are constantly interacting with customers and colleagues, who tend to be other college students.

These friendships act in tandem to motivate working students to keep pushing, when they are struggling to manage work and school. After all, you are surrounded by people who are in the same boat as you. 

3. Budgeting skills 

Working students have a fairly small salary, given on a biweekly or monthly basis, which makes it essential for students to become expert budgeters.

It’s dull work, and can often mean missing out on better food or luxury sneakers, but it is an invaluable life skill. Budgeting is essential to helping young people transition into the adult world and the expenses that come with it. 

4. Networking connections 

If you are doing an internship as a college student, it is important to take advantage of networking opportunities. These can be more valuable than the modest salary that most college jobs offer.

If you’re working within your major and would like to make a career out of it, then be sure to leave a good impression.

It will grant you great references and potentially a job. Alternatively, if you are working in a field that doesn’t feel relevant to your future, then it’s still a good idea to show your employers that you are punctual, helpful, and reliable.

These are universal skills, and can be referenced to future employers. 

Three women discussing work on a laptop.

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5. Looks great on resume

Regardless of where you work in college, the mere fact of working during college is impressive. Employers will see that you have the ambition and responsibility to maintain good grades and work at the same time.

The real world experience and time management skills give you a leg up against other students, who may have focused solely on academics. 

6. Improves time management

Every working student knows that it is nearly impossible to work a job and get homework done without superb time management skills. If you don’t have these skills, you have to learn them quickly, or your performance in school or work will be negatively affected.

While this is an unfortunate reality for working students, this pressure also teaches students to balance their responsibilities. In adult life, one has to juggle their job, friends, family, and hobbies.

That task becomes increasingly difficult with time, so learning these skills in college gives you a headstart on being prepared for life after graduation. 

7. Boosts future earning potential

Being a working student increases your earning potential— not just in school, but after graduation, too. According to a 2019 Rutgers University study of 160,000 public university students, those who worked in college scored an average income $20,000 higher than students who didn’t.

This is most likely due to the experience working students have as both students and employees, which provide skills that their non-working peers miss out on.

8. Can actually make you a better student up to a point

Studies have found that working to a certain extent actually makes you a better student. According to a study published in Economics of Education Review, students who work are more likely to graduate.

Many other studies also show that students who work 10 to 20 hours per week have slightly higher grade point averages than students who don’t work.

The responsibility and motivation required as an employee carries over to being a strong student. The only catch: “All the research on this topic found a negative correlation with grades and graduation rates for students who worked more than 20 hours per week.”

This meaning students working full-time jobs during college can be held back academically, because they have to spend so much time on non-academic work. 

A student sitting at a table doing work on his laptop wearing a mask.

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9. Flexible hours compared to post-college job opportunities

While balancing work and school can feel like an insane task, it is important to recognize that campus jobs are still a lot more flexible than full-time jobs in the real world when it comes to hours.

Campus employers usually are willing to work with student schedules, whereas most other jobs give you a rigid schedule that you must always follow, regardless of what’s going on in your personal life.

10. Some extra spending money

While salaries in college are not always amazing, it can be very nice to have some extra spending money in your pocket at the end of a long week. Being able to buy food off-campus is always a bonus, as well as other amenities you might need for your dorm. 

It’s not always ideal to juggle school and work at the same time, but if you are in this situation, you can still reap the unique benefits of being a working student.

As long as you are able to balance your mental health and keep your performance level high in your work and academics, then you will come out the other end with a leg up on your peers and valuable experience. It is a difficult ordeal, but definitely worth it.

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4 No-Fail Ways to Manage Your Mental Health in College

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College students around the world have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, both in their academic as well as social lives. Not only have many classes transferred to an online format, but the entire routine of going to class, eating with friends, and going out on the weekends has come to a halt.

College is already a time where young people tend to disregard their mental health, but the pandemic has raised this issue to a new height, by taking away the daily routines that students use to stay healthy and productive. 

Despite the plethora of new found obstacles that college students have faced during this pandemic, the resiliency of young people cannot be underestimated. Even when so much has been taken away from the “best four years of their lives”, students continue to find ways to stay optimistic and happy during these trying times. 

I interviewed three students at Wesleyan University in order to get a better understanding of how college students are taking care of their mental health and was met with many strategies current students are using to manage their mental health. 

1. Self-Care

“Aside from attending therapy once every two weeks, one of the big ways that I manage my mental health in college is through self-care. Self-care looks different for many students, but to me, it’s about taking the time that I know I deserve to relax and turning on some music or spending time with friends,” said Darielis Rivas class of ‘23.

During a time where most people are concerned about catching, and or spreading COVID-19, self-care may seem like an afterthought, but keeping up with our own health outside of the pandemic is essential, and its importance cannot be overstated.

As Rivas states, self-care looks different from person to person, but what it comes down to is finding the activities that allow you to relax, bring you joy, or simply take your mind off what is going on in the outside world. Another student had a different approach towards keeping track of his mental health: 

2. Be Active

“My mental health declines whenever I’m not active and just letting myself stew in boredom so I’ve found the best way to cope with that is just to be active and not get stuck in this cycle of boredom where I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything,” said Joseph Seen ‘23.

The boredom that Seen described has been drastically exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic for many students. Yet, feelings of boredom and loneliness have a few solutions. The challenge is to get up and do something––even if the motivation to do so can be difficult to find. 

3. Break the Cycle of Routine

“When I feel like I’m being reclusive in my dorm or stuck in some kind of monotonous cycle, I’ll try to do something that breaks that cycle by just getting me out of my dorm or wherever I feel like I’ve been spending too much time like running or going to do something with friends,” said Seen. 

In many ways, mental health is all about cycles and patterns that students tend to fall into. Some of these cycles are positive, and we need to motivate ourselves to continue them, and some are negative and we must try to break them, even if this is a daily struggle.

Maintaining positive cycles is most beneficial for some, whereas for others, breaking negative patterns help them the most. The variety of ways that young people are able to maintain their mental health is very broad. It is truly a personal journey that we must all take, to find the things most important to keep, as well as eliminate from our weekly routines. 

4. Keep in Touch With Your Loved Ones

“I think being away from home is hard for me, but it isn’t really hard until you find that moment when you’re alone and have nothing to distract you. Keeping in contact with my family is what helps me. Texting and calling or even just seeing their face on video and photos really just helps me emotionally.” said Kelly Nano-Miranda class of ‘23 at Wesleyan University.

As Rivas found comfort in self care, and Seen did in breaking negative habits, Nano-Miranda sees family as the center point for her mental health, in the often lonely environment, that is a college campus during a pandemic. 

Whether these responses resonate with you or not, they do prove one vital point, college students cope with their mental health in many different ways, and it’s okay to be unsure of your preferred method. While there is no rush to find a perfect solution, the first step to that solution is being honest with yourself about the state of your mental health.

Reflect on when you are most happy, comforted, content, as well as most sad or stressed, and start to categorize which routines, or lack thereof in your life, tends to make you feel these emotions.

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