The New Normal 

As social distancing efforts continue, we all find ourselves trying to adjust to the new normal; not the permanent normal, but the way life is going to be right now. Reflecting on this past school year, college students, especially freshmen, have been trying to find their new normal all year, but with all of this upheaval, that has been really difficult and very disorienting. College students started off the school year with a whole new set of expectations and a lot of uncertainty. Some were living on their own for the very first time and learning to navigate this new world of independence—juggling school, social life, family and their own self care. This is no small feat, yet many of them had just started to feel more comfortable and competent with this whole adulting adventure. They were just getting into their groove when, just like that…our entire planet found itself knee deep in a pandemic.

Now students are back at home, having had this small taste of freedom, trying to navigate being isolated from friends, online classes, exams and cabin fever. Very normal feelings are extreme disappointment, sadness, frustration, confusion, and longing for things to just go back to they way they were. Students are worried about family and friends and trying to find a way to grasp this new normal to finish out the semester. Finals week has always been hard on students and now they are facing those same stressors while figuring out telelearning and without a community of fellow students (technology communities are good but not the same as person to person study groups), which causes students to feel even more isolated. Trying to stay focused learning from home has been difficult for them and now with all this added pressure, it is even harder to study.

It’s important college students feel heard, supported and assured as they go into finals week. Here are just a few ways you can support them.

  • Help them to limit distractions.
  • Encourage them to form study groups over zoom or whatever conferencing technology you may have.
  • If they haven’t already heard of him, have them check out College Info Geek on YouTube. It has really great science-based information on best ways to study.
  • Let them figure out their study schedule (don’t get back to managing their school work).
  • Encourage them to eat some healthy food and remind them of the importance of sleep


This time is so hard for everyone. So many of us are scared on a level we haven’t really known before. Our college students have been on an emotional and mental YoYo all year and we want them to finish this semester as seamlessly as possible. We hope that this offers you some support and perspective as you carry your family through this tough time.

Angie Cook

Angie Cook, co-founder of Bridge Box, graduated from Kent University and works as an Canine Behavior Consultant in Asheville, NC. Angie’s passion for working with young people began with teaching drama and directing plays for adolescent theatre groups about 20 years ago. She has worked for, designed and taught summer camps for K-12 focusing on theatre, science, art and outdoor education. Angie is the technical mastermind of Bridge Box who takes care of all the operations, products and systems.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Carey J. Cook, LPC

Carey J. Cook, LPC

Carey J Cook is a Licensed Professional therapist in Asheville, NC. She has a private practice and is the co-founder of Bridge Box which was inspired by her work with college students. In different capacities, Carey has provided education and therapy to college students and families for over a decade. Carey seeks to understand and support college students during this phase of life and provide tangible tools to students via Bridge Box.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.