Returning to Your College’s Campus This Fall? Here Is What You Should Expect


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So long, Summer 2020! After what was likely your strangest summer to date, you’re preparing to head back to college and add another semester to the books. But, given that the coronavirus pandemic is still very real and very dangerous – yes, even to people your age— you probably have more than a few questions about how this academic year will play out, and what to expect when you return to campus.  

For example, you might have previously been looking forward to another year on your college’s lacrosse team, Mock Trial organization, or student government board. However, now you’re thinking about approaching your usual activities with trepidation, given the tumultuous news cycle and the seemingly unforgiving nature of the coronavirus itself. Hey, we can’t blame you for rethinking just about everything having to do with college life – as daily infection rates continue to rise, it is critical to play it smart and keep yourself safe and comfortable. 

Though universities around the country are already operating differently from one another, most will be following the same general guidelines when it comes to keeping their students, faculty, and staff safe from the threat of the virus. With that being said, your friends at uCribs have a few predictions on how everything will go down during the upcoming semester, and you can read all about them below! 

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A mask-mandated environment.  

Heads – or, should we say, masks – up! Your college or university is likely to require that all students, employees, and visitors wear face to enjoy the common spaces on campus. It makes sense – masks offer the people that are wearing them a solid way to fight against infection, as facial coverings limit how far the airborne virus can travel between people. Because of their known effectiveness, it’s important to get comfortable with wearing a face mask now. Once you’re ready to pack for the semester, don’t forget to bring along an assortment of multi-layered, breathable, and machine-washable face masks. N95s and surgical masks have also been popular options when they’re available! Whichever type of mask you choose, protect yourself and others with this simple and kind action. 

New rules for gathering spaces and events 

Looking forward to a jam-packed fall social calendar? You might want to cool your jets. With colleges scrambling to keep students safely distanced, you can bet that sporting events, Greek mixers, and other gatherings will look a little different this semester – if they even happen at all. Big Ten and Pac-12 have already cancelled college football seasons, and fans are waiting to hear announcements from SEC and Big 12. As for club meetings that normally take place in classrooms or common areas, they will likely move online. And, if you’re a member of a sorority or fraternity, you can expect online chapter meetings and social events to take place over Zoom or in small, socially distant groups. Thankfully, our generation is pretty tech savvy, so the transition won’t be too difficult. 

course schedule with at least one online class 

Online learning certainly has its pros and cons. No matter your feelings on the subject, chances are you’ll be enrolled in at least one online class this fall. In fact, 8 percent of colleges and universities have already committed to all online classes for the fall semester. Is your university not included in the 8 percent? Even if it is not, you can still expect a hybrid schedule of both online and in-person classes. Though adjusting to a heavy online schedule may still take some getting used to, you can maximize your chances of success by practicing good habits, like keeping yourself on a healthy sleep and workout schedule, eating three well-rounded meals per day, and minimizing distractions – we’re looking at you, smartphones.  

A shorter or earlier semester. 

If you’re keeping up with virus-related news like the majority of us, you probably already know that COVID-19 is predicted to hit Americans especially hard during this upcoming flu season. Decision-makers at your college are aware of this, which is why they’re most likely planning a shorter semester or aiming to start it earlier than usual. This means, you will wrap your final exams just ahead of Thanksgiving, instead of a few weeks afterward. The end goal? To have you off-campus by December when flu season begins to peak. Even though you may have to forego Fall Break in order to make this timeline work, it’ necessary to keep everyone healthy when it matters most. 

In general, fewer faces on campus. 

We aren’t going to lie: your campus may feel like a ghost town this semester, with fewer faces on and around campus. For starters, it’s likely that your school will keep only their essential staff and instructors on-campus, in an effort to minimize crowding wherever possible. Due to international travel bans and advisories, there will be much fewer international students enrolled for the upcoming semester, as well. Couple these reasons with the fact that many students will be enrolled in online classes part- or full-time or hold off enrollment altogether, and you can bet that campus will seem less lively than usual, to say the least.  

No doubt about it, 2020 will be a year for the history books. But, that doesn’t mean that it won’t be memorable for positive reasons, too. Our point? You can still enjoy the college experience this year, pandemic or not – you just might need a little help adjusting to the “new normal.” Luckily, uCribs is here for you during these uncertain times and will get you started on the path to success with our list of 5 changes to expect when you head back to your college campus this fall.  

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Amelia Woolard is a graduate of Millsaps College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies and an Art History minor. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, Amelia moved to New Orleans in 2014 to begin her career in marketing and design. She is particularly interested in the intersection of art and language, and enjoys projects that merge the two fields. Amelia is an avid yet critical pop culture consumer and a loving mother to her cat Faulkner.

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