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Re-entering College Life with Care

May 18, 2020

COVID-19 has created a lot of uncertainty and has upended our normal way of life. Such an event may instill feelings of confusion, anxiety, and nervousness about the future. Some may, for example, feel nervous returning back to work or school. It is important to afford space to validate and care for ourselves in these reactions. They can alert us to the pain and suffering we may directly be going through or indirectly experience as we observe the impact of the pandemic. And yet, in contrast to all of this, we also need space to hope, connect, and progress forward. We can both validate the apprehension and hope we have for the future.

In an effort to move forward our primary concern ought to be for our personal and others wellbeing. It is vital to consider our physical and mental health when looking forward to the future. Second to this, it can also be important to hope for the future through pursuing personal values and goals, like achieving educational or occupational goals. During this difficult time it may be challenging to make a decision about how we may pursue these primary and secondary considerations for the future. Allowing ourselves some flexibility and patience as we plan for the future can be helpful as we face current uncertainty.

When making difficult decisions, it is helpful that you stay well informed about what Purdue University is doing, by vising the University’s COVID-19 Information page. It is also encouraged that you seek the support from trusted family members, friends, primary care providers, and other professional/institutional supports, like academic advisors or ODOS Student Support Services.

Moving toward the future, during such a difficult time, we can do so by caring and supporting one another. As we do so in healthy and creative ways, we can feel more confident in the decisions we make and hope for the future.

Jonathan Ishoy, Purdue CAPS Staff Therapist

Making Decisions using Your Values

As the university looks ahead to the fall semester, both students and staff are thinking through their own personal “whens” and “hows” of re-entry into academic life. Returning to normal is desirable, but rushing to that return can lead to taking shortcuts and missing out on the values that have define our lives. Instead, the best decisions come from identifying how to satisfy both our immediate desires and our life-long values.

What is important to you? This can be as broad as your health or caring for your family. There are also several guides to help identify your values (Values Checklist by Russ Harris, for example). Consider what your four or five most important values are; write them down! As you think about your plans for the fall semester, think about how those plans are informed by your values and how they are informed by a desire to be done with the restrictions of the stay-at-home orders. How can you get back to living your life without ignoring or compromising your values?

How we re-enter the university, we will be creating a new definition of “normal.” It is up to each of us to ensure that normal is the result of our best long-term options, not just quick fixes to relieve our immediate stress.

Drew Zaitsoff, Purdue CAPS Staff Therapist