Younger generations are facing unique challenges when dealing with the effects of the pandemic. At the height of their social prime, students were looking towards milestones like prom, graduation, starting their careers, and so much more before the global economy halted. These changes have led to significantly higher levels of loneliness and boredom, as well as lower levels of connectedness for Gen Z compared to before COVID-19.
Although this is a time of hardship and change, here are 4 things students can do right now to look forward to the future.
Keep planning for your future
One of the biggest questions on your mind right now might be “when are things going to go back to normal?" That could be in relation to schools or job opportunities reopening, living situations, or even the possibility of travel. It's tough to plan your future when you don't know if you're going to be able to return to your university campus or get a new internship. One of the best ways to mitigate this uncertainty is to plan for the things that you can control.
If you're graduating high school this year, and looking forward to beginning your college or university experience, keep on track with your planning. Create a list of things that you are looking forward to the next chapter in your life – maybe that includes what you want to accomplish in the next year, some of the activities you want to try out when you get to campus, or things you want to learn even if you’re taking online classes. Start thinking about how you're going to budget for your education. If you were planning on taking a trip that has since been postponed, come up with a list of activities that you're excited to do once you can take that trip. This will also give you a good opportunity to re-evaluate your budget for the trip.
Re-evaluate your priorities and make plans
With school being out, summer jobs and extra-curricular activities on hold, and social-distancing limiting your interactions with others, this can be a time to pause and reflect. This can mean reflecting on what’s most important to you, thinking of the different areas in your life, maybe school, work, family, health, financial health and wellness overall. Knowing what you know now, how would you have planned for your future? What would you have wished you had done differently? How about your financial plans? Would you have saved a larger emergency fund? Would you have planned your budget and spent your money differently? Would you have paid for your education in a different way? Would you have made that first step to start your own side business?
The current economic situation has affected a large number of people, but it is not too late to re-evaluate your priorities and plan for a better future. To increase your financial savvy, we’ve put together a guide on the main financial topics and how to get started on a financial plan here.
Recreate your routines
Having your routine completely disrupted makes it hard to stay disciplined, focused and motivated. An easy way to keep yourself on track is to recreate some of your regular routines.
- Are you used to commuting to school or work? Go for a quick walk in the mornings and afternoons to stimulate your senses and get some fresh air.
- Feeling distracted? Get rid of major distractions while reading/studying and focus on completing one task at a time, and use designated breaks between study sessions to check your phone.
- Not feeling engaged in your online classes or other learning activities? Try to simulate a library or study environment, schedule a call with someone in your class to discuss what you’re learning. Just because you can't physically be together, it doesn't mean that you can't engage in the same types of conversations and structure that you previously had.
Lastly, having something to look forward to at the end of the day will help you feel as 'normal' as possible. If you typically spent your evenings playing a sport or hanging out with your friends, plan something in the evenings that will give you the same sense of enjoyment. You could host a virtual trivia night, try a new recipe in the kitchen, go out for a run, or simply sit on your couch and listen to a podcast – only you know what will make your evenings entertaining.
Keep connected and be mindful of your boundaries
Keep connected with friends, family, and online communities by way of technology. If you missed out on a celebration during the pandemic, plan a virtual celebration in lieu of an in-person one. Set up your own virtual hangout, trivia game, or another online game that you can play together. Check out Netflix party, a Chrome extension that allows you to watch anything on Netflix online with your friends, chatting with them as you watch.
Connecting with your network will give you a sense of comradery and shared experience. Across the country, families, partners and roommates are spending a lot more time together as a result of self-isolation. This is a big adjustment from regular routines, and it can put you in stressful situations. To help ease the tension of spending more time in close quarters, it's important to have open discussions with each other about expectations and boundaries. Tell those around you how you best communicate in times of stress and let them know when you need some personal space, what your routine is, when you expect to be busy and don’t want to be interrupted. If you're used to living away from home, being back at home can be a big adjustment – you're all facing this situation together, so do your best to be kind and understanding to those around you.
All in all, remember that this is something that you, and most of those around you, have never experienced before. Don't put too much pressure on yourself – we're all in this together.
Check out our Student Hub for more student-related information, tips, and updates, whether it’s relating to general student life, advice on landing your dream internship or job, or tools that will help you better manage your finances.