By UCS Peer Coach, Giacomo Eisler – Class of 2022
Being in college during a global pandemic can be very difficult for anyone. Not only are students trying to prepare themselves for future careers, internships, and graduate programs while still performing in their classes; but, many students are also experiencing their first encounter with trauma of this scale. While not immediately evident, according to Leah Campbell, a Healthline contributor, “the emotional turmoil [brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic] is causing symptoms of trauma to manifest in both children and adults.” These symptoms include feeling unsafe or on guard, having an increase in negative thoughts and feelings, and having problems with sleep and concentration. If gone untreated, these symptoms make it incredibly difficult for anyone to focus on something as time consuming and difficult as recruitment and classes. As we approach a second semester under these difficult circumstances, the UCS has asked me to research and compile a list of tips, tricks and resources for helping college students manage their mental health and remain successful.
Taking Care of You:
The first step to easing the difficulty of the college-pandemic experience is taking care of yourself by identifying and prioritizing your needs paired with reaching out to others for support. No one can or should go through this alone. Reaching out to others for both professional and social support is crucial in making this experience manageable. The Indiana University Health Center has counseling resources available for every student and has even tailored those resources specifically for COVID-related mental health stressors. I highly suggest hopping onto their website: Counseling (CAPS): Student Health Center: Indiana University Bloomington, and taking a look at what they have to offer. You might be surprised by how high-tech and modern some of their resources actually are! Not only do they offer traditional counseling and psychiatric care; but, they also offer group counseling covering all sorts of niche topics, live and pre-recorded mental health workshops, as well as access to expensive, revolutionary software like WellTrack which have been designed to help a new generation cope with their mental health in ways that incorporate our most used devices: cellphones. Taking care of oneself should be our number one priority in these trying times. Do not be afraid to ask for help from friends, family and the professionals at your disposal. Everyone is struggling right now so do not be too hard on yourself!
Taking Care of Business:
The second step to staying on track in school this year comes with organization and working with others. The challenge that online recruiting has presented students has felt daunting to say the least. An experience that is already confusing and stressful has now evolved into an even more confusing and stressful beast. A great tool for approaching seemingly impossible tasks is to get very organized. Breaking down a goal like: “get an internship,” into: “(1) identify 10 companies I am interested in working at, (2) attend 3 career fair sessions, (3) write a cover letter, etc.” makes it much easier to start and finish a task. Studies have also shown that when you set weekly days and times to work on tasks you are more likely to stick to them. Remember when breaking down major goals that you do not have to do everything at once. You can take your time and approach each step in a calm, manageable manner rather than trying to apply to twenty internships in one night.
While organization is very helpful, it is most effective when paired with accountability. One of the easiest ways of making sure you follow through on tasks is by creating an accountability circle. What this means is making a small group with friends or classmates who are also applying to internships and working together on the tasks. Not only does it make monotonous jobs a little bit more fun, but your friends can also help motivate you when you just cannot seem to do it on your own. Do not be afraid to let your friends pick you up when you are down.
We are all going through an unprecedented collegiate experience and dealing with new obstacles in our way. With so much drastic change around us it is important to stay grounded, prioritize our mental and physical needs, and approach our goals and responsibilities methodically and with friends. There is no easy fix to the struggle we are all experiencing in these unprecedented times, but I hope the message of approaching it with kindness and others helps you find your own path to doing so.