Last minute College Prep 2021
By Bernard Freeman
COVID and College
Last year’s seniors had a final year like no other, and now they’re starting off their freshman year in uncharted territory as well — still in the midst of a global pandemic.
While colleges and universities are returning more to in-person learning and more on-campus activities, there are more rules to consider.
CNN reports than more than 100 colleges and universities are requiring COVID vaccinations for returning students. Some schools are even offering the vaccine for free on campus.
The University of Portland issued a statement that said, “We recognize that not all areas of the country or the world have equity in access to vaccines, and we commit to providing assistance to our students and employees.”
A survey by BestColleges.com earlier this year found that more than 90% of college students experienced negative mental health symptoms due to the pandemic. Specifically, the pandemic hit students hard with depression, anxiety and loneliness.
Many college students rely on their peers for emotional and academic support and, with the country in lockdown, that was taken away. Nearly half of students surveyed said it was harder to meet classmates and make friends. What that means is that if your student was a college freshman last year, they may need more support this year as they get out and form the bonds they need for support at school.
Hunger and Basic Needs
Lockdowns also disproportionately affected struggling college students and their families. BestColleges.com’s survey found that a quarter of students faced financial difficulties and 17% are dealing with or have dealt with food insecurity. The need for food pantries and food assistance on college campuses has been a steadily growing problem in recent years, and it appears the pandemic hasn’t helped.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages students to get vaccinated and also to stay informed about COVID-19 and the pandemic. That includes knowing the symptoms of coronavirus, including cough, fever, chills, muscle pain, shortness of breath, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell.
In dorms and apartments, regularly clean common spaces and high-touch surfaces, such as bathrooms and laundry facilities, before and after use. Try to maintain social distancing and wear masks in public areas, following local guidance. Get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Moving out for the first time can be both exciting and terrifying. Once you’re out on your own, you notice all sorts of the conveniences of home that you took for granted.
The first thing to do is to make sure of the rules and regulations pertaining to what you can and cannot have in the dorms. Also make note of what the dorm may provide for you (a mattress) and may not (a fridge).
Now let’s run down the list of things you probably need to shop for.
Bedding and Bath
- Bedsheets, blankets and comforters, probably in a twin XL.
- Mattress pads. Trust us on this one. Probably in a twin XL.
- Pillows and pillowcases.
- Ear plugs, if you’re a light sleeper.
- Paper towels and toilet paper.
- Towels, including hand and bath towels.
- Under-bed storage bins.
- Shower shoes for use in a communal shower.
- Basket or shower caddy.
You may have been used to the floss and your deodorant magically reappearing whenever you needed it. No more. Now it’s up to you. Here’s a list to get you started shopping for your own personal care needs.
- Bath soap or shower gel.
- Shampoo and conditioner.
- Brush, comb and other hair styling tools.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash and floss.
- Shaving kit.
- Makeup box or kit, lotions and other cosmetics.
- Cotton swabs.
- First-aid kit.
- Nail clippers and a file.
- Handheld mirror.
- Shower mat.
Next on the magically appearing list: laundry. Here’s what you need to start tending to your own laundry.
- Iron or steamer with an ironing board.
- Laundry baskets and bags.
- Laundry detergent.
- Stain remover.
- Dryer sheets.
- Lint brush.
- A supply of quarters if your school uses a laundromat.
This is probably the most fun. Put your own spin on your dorm or apartment by buying these things.
- Posters or wall art.
- Sticky wall mounts and adhesive hooks (bear in mind that nails and tacks may not be allowed).
- Personal photos in frames.
- Area rugs or other temporary carpet.
- Seating for guests. Consider things that easily move like beanbags or folding chairs.
- Desk and floor lamps.
- Trash cans.
- Bedside table.
- Desk chair (even if your dorm comes with one, it may not be very comfortable).
- Bulletin board or whiteboard with dry-erase markers and thumbtacks.
- Closet organizer.
- Step ladder
- Bed risers for creating more storage.
- Over-the-door hangers for coats or towels in the bathroom.
Collegiate culture is drowning in references to booze-soaked parties, experimenting with drugs and generally partying hardy.
For many young people, going off to college is their first taste of freedom, and a little exploration is to be expected. But it’s up to you as a parent to keep the lines of communication open with your student and to keep them from overindulging. Too much drink or any illegal drug use can have serious consequences. Make sure your student knows the ropes before the first day of class.
Critical First Few Weeks
The first few weeks of the semester are the most critical to the academic success of a new college student, Long Beach State University says. Alcohol and drug use can throw a wrench into a student’s transition into college and derail their academic success (and quite possibly their future).
Talk to your student early and often about the consequences of alcohol and drug use. Keep lines of communication open and address their feelings and opinions seriously.
Rules on Campus
Different states and jurisdictions have different rules about drinking and recreational drug use. It’s important that both you and your student understand the rules at home and the rules where they’ll be going to school. Also know that different campuses and even buildings on campus may have policies that differ from the surrounding municipality. For instance, it may be legal to drink at 21 in the town where the college is located, but alcohol may be prohibited on campus. Make sure to go over the rules for all the places your student is likely to spend time and make sure they know the consequences of breaking them, not just from you but also from their school and city.
Tips for The Talk
First of all, make sure it’s not just one talk, but an ongoing conversation. Evaluate and be willing to talk about your own views on alcohol and drug use. Set a good example with your behavior, and establish multiple lines of communication, including regular calls and texts. Listen to your student but don’t judge and don’t jump to conclusions. Let them explain themselves and have an open and frank conversation. If your student feels you disapprove, that may prevent them from coming to you in the future.