Forging a path to college is a daunting pursuit, even in a normal year. But during a pandemic, pursing higher education is more complicated than ever.

Students of all ages are getting a crash course in time management and personal responsibility, which could prepare them well for future studies and careers. But the past six months has also been a stressful time. Here are some of the top tips that we’re sharing to help students make the most of this time:

For college students:

  1. Be mindful of safety, for both yourself and those around you. Even though some of the traditional college experiences aren’t available this year, there are still plenty of ways to stay healthy. Spend time outdoors, try meditation and explore hobbies to maintain a balanced mindset. This is a great time to build resiliency.
  2. Continue to be involved. College students today are struggling with missed experiences, and their expectations of a more traditional college atmosphere are not being met. Many clubs and student organizations still meeting online and career centers are offering virtual office hours.
  3. Be optimistic. Even though your college experience looks different than you thought it would, the world won’t be like this forever. And your experiences will make you stronger. You’ll be more creative and willing to take on big problems, because that’s just what you’re doing today.

For prospective college students:

  1. Treat this like a normal year. The FAFSA is open and ready to be completed. If you have questions about the FAFSA, Ask Benji can help answer them via text. And don’t forget about priority deadlines for university applications. Seek out scholarships, most of which are still available. Applications for College Success Arizona scholarships will be available in January.
  2. Get help when you need it. If there are counselors at your high school, they can provide guidance related to college admissions. Or reach out to College Depot online or over the phone. There are so many people out there who want to help you!
  3. Keep your long-term goals front and center. Pursuing postsecondary education is more important than ever. Most jobs today require education beyond high school, and those with a college degree are less likely to lose their job during a recession.

advice for college enrollment There’s endless potential in our students today. These unusual and challenging times are an opportunity to build resiliency, explore interests and prepare for the future.

Matthew Sotelo, M.Ed, is a Success Adviser and Workforce Development Coordinator at College Success Arizona.