Before the world changed, locking yourself up in your room and not having to deal with so many people seemed like a great way to get a little R&R. Once the pandemic hit however, we all quickly learned that too much of something isn’t always a great idea. The world looked at us and said, “How do you feel about spending a year alone!?”
While isolation may seem lower on the food chain in terms of problems, it is still important to consider when evaluating the impact that the pandemic has had on everyone, and in particular, students. Even though everyone following government guidelines has felt the type of loneliness that comes with self-isolation, and the repetition of exhausting indoor days, students have been robbed of vital experiences they should be having while at university.
Creating a sense of community and networking while in post-secondary school is absolutely essential to the college experience. You’re supposed to talk with others and share your experiences, connect with classmates, build long lasting relationships and simply suffer through assignments, tests and exams, together.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. While this change was tough to swallow at first, students and PSE schools have worked together to quickly break through these new barriers and provide a semblance of the classic college experience.
Where the physical world fell flat, the digital world excelled.
Digital spaces started to pop up all over the country, allowing students to salvage their social PSE experience and find the types of interactions they were craving while making new friends at the same time. These spaces, like Facebook or Instagram group chats, Discord servers or Snapchat groups, allowed people to create and maintain a vast social network from the comfort of their own homes.
These online platforms also removed social barriers like prejudices of social status or appearances that may have blinded people from interacting together in-person, allowing many students to make friends with people they never would have before.
I personally took full advantage of these groups and apps to make the most out of my university life and cut down on the loneliness that comes from isolation. I met a ton of friends and people I got to talk to daily – I could even work together with them on assignments and ask them questions if I needed help. Because we share the same struggles, we were able to connect and work together to make our way through our hardships.
As an introvert this really helped to get me out of my shell. If nothing else, this year has taught me just how much we need other people in our lives to bring excitement to our days and I’m thrilled that I got to meet so many people online that I never would have otherwise.
It’s so important to not just look at what we lost this year but also what we gained, and I think our digital connectivity is stronger than ever, giving a channel and voice to everyone – even those who may be a little shy at first. I feel as though I am more immersed in my school’s community than ever before and I would highly recommend encouraging your children to take full advantage of all the groups and programs available to them.