The last few weeks have seen my college junior’s class schedule changing daily. No, the changes aren’t because he is adding and dropping classes because of indecisiveness. Rather, as the very large state public university he attends is beginning the daunting task of deciding which classes will be taught remotely and which ones will be offered in person, his schedule is still in flux.
At first, when all of his classes were listed with a room and building number, he breathed a huge sigh of relief. Then, suddenly, only a couple of his classes were designated online only. The following day all five of his classes said “remote” next to them, and with a panicked voice, he asked if that meant he would have to stay home for the fall semester instead of returning to campus. I didn’t hesitate for one second in replying, “Nope! You are 100% moving back to campus this fall, even if ALL of your classes are online.”
My son will be going back to college
As of today, it appears that some of his classes will be online, and some will be in a traditional classroom setting (but with heavy social distancing rules and masks required, as well as an immediate remote learning option should virus number spike during the semester.) But regardless of that, for his sake and mine, he most definitely needs to return to a campus setting for classes-even if they all eventually end up being “remote” because of virus numbers spiking.
Why? Because we quickly learned during the last months of spring semester when he did online classes from home, that college learning is meant to be done ON A CAMPUS, not in the dining room of your childhood home. And by college learning, I mean there is more to higher education than lectures done through a Zoom call. So. Much More.
For that reason, if you’re financially able to manage the burden of their living expenses, by all means please send your kid back to campus this fall. Why?
Why you should send your teen back to college
1. They need their peers.
While having my college kids home for the last several months has been wonderful, I am NOT the person they want or need to be spending their time with. Being with and around students their age and living in common environments and communities (not just inside a classroom) brings with it immeasurable emotional support (and a very beneficial sense of camaraderie- think study groups) that simply cannot be duplicated via Zoom calls, Google hangouts, and Netflix binging with your old folks at night.
2. Living away from home teaches all the big life lessons.
Real life lessons, and I mean the ones that involve the dreaded but very necessary “adulting” moniker, happen when you’re not at home under the safety net of your parents. They happen hundreds and thousands of miles away when you’re forced to make decisions instantly on your own, or bear the consequences without help. Learning independent living skills and acquiring the confidence to make big decisions is crucial to your kid’s success, and the best way for that to happen is for them to actually NOT happen at home.
3. Recreation can (and needs to) still happen.
Student programming and recreation departments at colleges are currently scrambling to figure out just what they’re able to host this fall, but I guarantee it’s going to be something better than what your backyard can offer. What that is, well, we’re all not sure yet, but I know that campus events like intramural sports, student organization meetings and events, sorority and fraternity recruitment (and socials!), and campus rec and fitness offerings will happen in some form or another. Now more than ever our young people need to be moving their bodies and interacting socially with each other, and I know the professionals in higher ed that work to make these things happen are truly 100% working to make these things happen.
4. Campus will be up and running.
University staff will still be working on campus, and that includes professors, tutoring departments, career centers, academic retention support personnel, and campus mental health professionals just name a few, all of which exist to support YOUR STUDENT (and which do not exist at home!) At such a difficult time for our young people right, extra efforts to support students physically and mentally are all being duly planned, and preparing to take place on campuses across the country this fall. Campus environments and communities need our kids as much as our kids need them.
5. Normalcy begets normalcy.
At some point we’ve all got to get back to work, school, and life. Getting our college kids back to campus and going through the normal day-to-day motions of being a regular college student (as much as they possibly can right now) can do wonders to bring them (and us!) a sense of comfort, and some hope that their country is on the mend.
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