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How to Manage COVID as a Student and Graduate

When today’s students and graduates first dreamt of student life, the state of studying under COVID-19 is not quite how they imagined it to be. 2020 and 2021 classes had to show greater resolve and imagination than any generation of students in recent history. Those commencing, continuing, or graduating from university over the next couple of months will have a unique study experience to remember. Many international students are grounded in their homelands, while on-campus classes have moved online. The assessment process has been reimagined, and library usage involves strange new rituals. These semesters are a great lesson in adaptability. Let's take a look at how to manage COVID as a student and graduate.

Aug 3, 2021
  • Education
How to Manage COVID as a Student and Graduate

Those commencing, continuing, or graduating from university over the next couple of months will have a unique study experience to remember. Many international students are grounded in their homelands, while on-campus classes have moved online. The assessment process has been reimagined, and library usage involves strange new rituals. These semesters are a great lesson in adaptability.

Through his campaign, Hickle, as the Student Body President of the Southern Methodist University, shares an inspiring example of positive thinking for these challenging times. Back in June, Hickle initiated the College Health Alliance of Texas (also known as CHAT) with the aim to advise students on how to stay in ‘contact’ with each other safely as we ride the pandemic out. Now that students are back on-campus in Texas, and COVID-19 cases are on the rise again, CHAT’s advisory brochure has become essential reading. The booklet contains information about how to protect yourself and others on and off-campus.

Besides the standard safety advice, CHAT give tips on how to make the best of quarantine time, and the tricky matter of dealing with a friend or roomie who isn’t following safety practices.

CHAT also identifies some of the long-term worries of students and graduates. “Finding work post-graduation has always been a bit daunting,” CHAT adds. “However, due to COVID-19, it is harder than ever to secure traditional jobs. For some, COVID-19 has completely derailed meticulously set plans and demotivated and discouraged many others.”

How graduates can seek jobs during COVID-19

In some ways, new graduates have it toughest of all. The emerging “coronavirus economy” is looking very much like a recession, and good jobs will be at a premium. This is one reason student enrolment is up at some colleges: with fewer jobs available, it makes sense to use this period to ‘skill up’ ahead of the search for work.

Just as the present generation of students will be valued for their adaptability, graduates who can demonstrate innovation and flexibility while job-hunting will enjoy a distinct advantage. Conditions make it even more essential to get an early foothold on the career ladder, rather than waiting for things to get better.

Coronavirus-era students and graduates can boost their employability by:

  • Networking and sharing personal projects online.
  • Identifying the problems that businesses face in today’s circumstances and offering solutions.
  • Identifying sectors that are booming despite or because of the lockdown.
  • Creating your own internship by volunteering ‘from home’ for a local charity or proposing an internship to a company you admire.
  • Organizing personal finances, applying for aid, and taking short-term work to stay afloat – it is much easier to hunt for your dream job when you are not panicking about money.
  • Developing your online/remote work-oriented skills.

According to Dan Hawes, the co-founder of Graduate Recruitment Bureau, a key question interviewers will probably ask you is, “What did you do in lockdown?”. Thus, make sure you have something exciting to share.

How universities are evolving

In terms of reconsidering the way education is done, the coronavirus pandemic is a mixed blessing. Of course, nobody wanted the present conditions, and the sector is experiencing a lot of hardship because of them. But like any crisis, the pandemic and its lockdown are forcing urgent change – and some of it is overdue.

In a few short months (okay, they felt like pretty long months), universities have evolved very quickly to cater to students’ present and future needs. Schools which had only dabbled in online learning and digital networks have had to figure out the technical, strategic, and behavioral elements necessary to achieve excellence through socially distance learning.

Online learning is becoming the future of eduction. Institutions are grappling with existing software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Canvas, and they are learning to get the most out of their systems and infrastructures. They are figuring out how to wrangle a seminar where multiple voices require to be heard. And they are trying to make sure that students with financial or access limitations are not short-changed. Many are switching to online-only courses, which require a fresh outlook from students and professors alike.

Tips for online classes

Students can make the most of their school’s efforts by looking for ways to maximize participation and interaction while minimizing risk. Thought of something your professor may have missed? Don’t be shy about sharing ideas – some of these tools are new for everyone. Much of the etiquette is new, too. Students and faculty have individual preferences about sharing online contact details, appearing on-screen, or being available around the clock. These are issues through which everybody is evolving together. Students should play a part in developing and respecting the new communication etiquette involved in online courses.

Students also face a greater burden of responsibility to structure their studies and motivate themselves. This could be a blessing in disguise if you embrace the challenge of maximizing school resources and restructuring your study in a way that benefits your education and the other elements of your life. But students should not be afraid to ask for help with study skills or support. Ironically, social distancing makes community more important than ever.

The Unicaf experience

While universities are trying to adapt to the new requirements, others have gone unaffected by Covid-19. Unicaf is a great example of online learning experience - as a leading online learning platform, it was already adapted into online learning environments. Unicaf offers scholarships in collaboration with reputable universities in the UK, US, and Africa to students anywhere in the world.

Unicaf is the pioneer of online learning. To date, even pre-coronavirus, their Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) was well established. Through this platform, students are able to communicate with their tutors, access study materials, e-library and online forums. Unicaf offered $100 million worth of scholarships to more than 43k students around the world, so far.

“I came across so many friends in the Virtual Learning Environment, where we had a lot of discussions – which really helped us during our assignments,” says Mary Nkandu, a graduate of Unicaf’s Master in Education Science. “It was just like we were in a full-time class.”

Although Unicaf is well adapted into online learning during the pandemic, the university's leaders are aware of the negative impact of covid-19 on student's wellbeing. In order to battle against this negative impact, Unicaf introduced virtual coffee meetings with the aim to keep students connected to each other. This was their change to socialize, exchange experiences and share lockdown tips.

Unicaf has also reached out to support The University of Rwanda during this difficult moment. The two institutions have strengthened their special partnership by utilizing Unicaf’s online infrastructure and expertise to put the University of Rwanda’s programs online.

“Unicaf has provided me with a great opportunity to obtain an MBA degree from a very remarkable university in the United States, and at a very affordable price,” says Rania Bou Salih, MBA student and full-time Department Head for Policies, Procedures and Quality Assurance for a Lebanese bank. “I work a full-time job and I’m a mother of two, it’s hard for me to go and watch classes and contribute, or pay a lot for my MBA studies, so my only opportunity for me was with Unicaf.”

Thanks to Unicaf, it is possible to study at your own pace, from the comfort of your home, while still being able to fit all your social responsibilities. Unicaf is ideal when you are busy with work or family commitments.

Article written in association with Unicaf.

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