Navigating any new campus can be challenging as a freshman. Doing so during the COVID-19 pandemic adds a new layer of complexity to the college experience.
From most of your classes being moved online, to wearing face masks and following social distancing guidelines, the fall 2020 semester might look a lot different than usual. While things are definitely not normal, that’s no reason to panic and make poor decisions during the pandemic.
First things first, make it a habit to carry your face mask at all times. Ball State will provide two free face masks to anyone who requests them. You can also bring your own facemasks and maybe get some with cool prints and designs.
While it has already been encouraged to wear your face masks in public spaces, it can be easy to forget about it sometimes. Keep one in your car, one in your backpack, one at home and anywhere else you know you won’t forget about it. The last thing you’d want is to be denied access to a place only because you forgot your face mask.
Just like your face masks, keep a hand sanitizer on you at all times. While Ball State will have its own hand sanitizing stations at different areas on campus, according to the Ball State website, having one handy with you in your backpack or your car sure won’t hurt. Make sure to get this before you come down to campus just in case they run out of stock at local stores.
Make it a habit to also regularly wipe down frequently touched areas in your dorm or at your workplace. Remember to also wash your hands with soap and water when feasible.
Social distancing might seem like an additional burden, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow Ball State’s instructions. Places like dining halls and shuttle buses will have stickers and signs showing you where to stand to ensure you maintain the 6 feet between you and another person.
In classrooms, lecture halls and auditoriums, make sure to occupy alternate seats instead of sitting too close to one another. Be courteous to others and avoid making people uncomfortable by not following social guidelines.
While social distancing emphasizes maintaining physical distance between people, it does not mean students will not have access to services provided by the university. Many Ball State services will continue being provided virtually, so take full advantage of scheduling virtual appointments as and when needed.
This also does not mean you should lock yourself up in your room either. Go out and explore the city and take a stroll down Cardinal Greenway. Spend time outdoors and make sure that you stay physically active by going for a run and doing home exercises. Don’t use the pandemic as an excuse to be physically inactive during the fall.
The one way students can survive this pandemic is by making sure there’s ample communication with the necessary individuals. Always keep your eye out for new announcements from the university administration and your department or college. Do not hesitate to reach out to your professors and the appropriate Ball State staff member with your questions, but be courteous as you wait for a response.
The COVID-19 pandemic is definitely going to be challenging for freshmen, but it is equally new and different for all other students, faculty and staff members on campus. And while everyone will try to be as accommodating as possible to the needs of all students, it is extremely important for all of us to be patient, kind and empathetic to the needs and challenges of others.
By working together, 6 feet apart, you can and will survive this rather odd first semester at Ball State.