By: Olivia De La O, College Success Advisor
Advising students during a global pandemic, I have had to prepare more than my transition to working virtually. I have had to renew my commitment to our educational values, and my unwavering support for my students, along with compassion, understanding, and empathy. Building trusting relationships with students is always something we make sure to never forget and always prioritize.
Students in our College Success Program come to us for academic advising resources, transfer resources, and career planning, but a lot of what we address revolves around navigating college in general and the effects of mounting academic and social pressures. Both our two-year or four-year college students value being able to talk about being mentally and emotionally prepared for the new challenges of online learning and how they are doing in the pandemic overall. We discuss finding support systems and mentors who can help them and show them that they are not alone.
More recently, we have been examining Zoom fatigue. Across the board, our students are battling being drained from virtual classes all day. They miss those close connections with their peers, which are also happening online. Some of our students have gone back to living at home with their families. Others have moved out for the first time on their own. Regardless, a majority of our students miss their peers, whether it’s celebrating or commiserating together.
Nevertheless, students are making the most out of what Fulfillment Fund has to offer. One of our first-year students at UC Riverside hasn’t let online events deter her from opportunities. She attended a workshop at our Destination College+ event in the fall and was interested in the work one of our speakers was doing. The speaker shared their plans for their upcoming podcast and business endeavor, along with their contact information. Our student was curious about how he started his business, so she visited their webpage and noticed that they were not on social media. She decided to reach out to ask if they were interested in hiring a social media manager to help him get started and reach more people. They met to talk about the details, and she has been working for him ever since. She has been learning a lot and realizing that she enjoys the relationship-building aspect of growing a platform and wants to see how she can learn more about it.
However, there is an assumption that all college-aged students and teens love being online or enjoy not going to a physical class. While virtual learning does work better for some, there is no one size fits. Our students are reminding us daily that we also have to adapt and listen to their feedback. It is an opportunity to create new and better ways to support them.
Our students are all amazing and have done so much already this year. They have revamped their study systems and learned how to be students all over again. Our freshmen completed their first full college term. Others have gotten internships and secured jobs for after graduation. Transfer acceptances are starting to come in, and students are applying for graduation. They are celebrating their loved ones being healthy and also trying to stay strong when others are not. They have been kind to and patient with us as we have also been learning along the way. They have shared all of this and more with us, and we couldn’t appreciate them more for it.