Jeana’s Declassified College Freshman Survival Guide #3: Pandemic Edition

August 24, 2020

Hello! My name is Jeana Pierson. I am now a junior at Millikin. Two years ago I was like you, a college freshman. I was nervous, excited, and ready for the next chapter of my life to begin.

On the other hand, I was nothing like you. I started school in person. And not in the middle of a national pandemic. 

Your class, the class of 2024, is unique for this reason. Covid 19 has turned your freshman year upside-down. But, no matter what, here at Millikin we welcome you with open arms. Well maybe not actual open arms, but the sentiment is there.

You may be feeling anxious about starting college during this time, but we are here for you. We, being your peers, your professors, and every single person in the Big Blue family. 

Now, you’re probably wondering how I, the knock-off version of Ned’s Declassified, come into play in this article. I am here, with my past experiences and knowledge of Millikin University to give you advice on starting college amidst the craziness that is 2020.

In the past when I have written my survival guides, they were short, bulleted, and to the point. This guide is going to be a little more in-depth as this school year is significantly different. 

Still, I’m going to provide you with do’s and don’t when it comes to adjusting to college life, especially at Millikin University. 

Do get involved. I cannot express this enough. While I understand it may seem hard to get involved when everything is online, it will be possible. 

Most organizations and clubs are looking for ways to meet online. Just one example, and a shameless plug, The Decaturian. Like most of your classes, we are having meetings via Zoom to keep our campus presence going. Other groups, like Burlesque Underground, are holding online auditions.

Check your email for weekly events and keep an eye out on Facebook and Instagram for opportunities to join teams, groups, and clubs. 

Greek life will also still be going on. While it won’t be until next semester for freshmen, it is still another way you’ll be able to be involved in the future.  

Your freshman year is your most exciting year of college. Just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, does not mean you have to miss out on the extracurriculars that take place every year. 

Don’t  use online classes as an excuse to be lazy and slack off. One way to keep motivated while doing classes online is to keep a regular schedule. 

Get a planner. Please get a planner. This will allow you to have structure even when you’re staying inside all day on Zoom. Planners are also helpful to remember due dates and tests or quizzes. This is especially important this semester as you won’t have physical in class time to talk with peers and professors about upcoming events.

Another way to keep yourself motivated is to simply get dressed every day. I’m not trying to diss the pajamas all day look, because I have definitely had those days.  Putting on jeans and a t-shirt for Zoom classes will make things feel normal. 

Keep in mind, that although they’re online, college classes will be different from your high school classes. It will be an adjustment taking college courses and it will be an even bigger adjustment now that the majority of them are online.

This is nothing to freak out about, but it is important to stay motivated and use resources like Moodle, Groupme, and Email as much as possible.

Do, this point comes right from my last one, communicate. Communication is key. Talk with your peers and talk with your classmates. Take advantage of email and Zoom office hours. 

With Zoom classes there is less time for pre-class or post-class chitchat. Make a groupchat with your classmates or find times to Zoom/Facetime to work on assignments or projects together.

It’s harder to get to know new people over the internet, but try to make it work. Make an effort to get to know your professors. Reach out to them, even if it’s just to ask a question. A simple email will form a bond between you and your professors and classmates.

The bright side of Millikin is that we are a small university. Odds are some of the professors and peers you have now you will have again before you graduate. So do not worry if you are bad at online communication, you will have more opportunities in the future to make connections. 

Don’t forget your mental health. Yes I know we are in the middle of a pandemic and being sanitary and healthy is critical. However, you cannot forget to take care of your mental health. 

Health is multidimensional. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Now read that again. 

Don’t forget to take breaks. Have fun. After a long day of Zoom, take a walk at Fairview park or Rock Springs Conservation Center. Have a Netflix party with your friends. It’s the little things. 

It’s easy to wrapped up in school and even easier when you barely leave your room to do it. Take time and focus on yourself. Your physical and mental health will thank you. Pay attention to your friends too. Look out for them as well during this uncertain time.  

I hope this guide is helpful to you and gives you some insight into being a freshman at Millikin during the reign of the coronavirus.

Get involved. Stay connected. Keep your motivation up. Take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Again, use your resources, Moodle, Email, Groupme. Look to your RA’s, your FYEM’s, your peer mentors, and your peers for advice, help in classes, and guidance. 

Most importantly, stay sanitary, follow Millikin’s Covid guidelines, and be safe. 

Go Big Blue!

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