Now more than ever, I’ve been appreciating the personal notes of understanding and encouragement. So here’s mine to you. Folks—this is HARD. I miss the energy and activity of campus. I miss morning chats with officemates. I miss the motivation I get from weekly meetings with my Tiger Family Leaders. I miss the stress ball collection that I left behind when packing office essentials to bring home (and am questioning why I didn’t see them as essential!) I miss normal life.
I know that I’m not alone. For me—and perhaps for many of you—this is the strangest period I’ve ever lived through. Some days I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry at how crazy this all is (I usually go for the reasons to laugh!) I’ve sought out normalcy as we face the unknown the best that I can. Daily 7 a.m. workouts with my partner and friends on Zoom help me start my days on the right foot. I look forward to Friday night takeout not only as a way to support local businesses, but to mark the weekends in what can feel like an endless loop of the same day. The sunshine and fresh air I get on afternoon walks (when it’s not snowing) revive me. I’ve been embracing my hobbies: crocheting a new blanket, reading from the stack of books I got from the library the day before they closed, learning new songs on the piano, and planning a trip for later in the year. This is how I hold it together.
I’m inspired by the people in my life who are conquering challenges and unknowns—transitioning in-person programming in so many creative ways; parenting small children while working from home; coping with loved ones who work in the medical industry; always remaining positive even when things looks bleak. When I see the resiliency of those around me, I know that I too can make it, and will come out of this a stronger person.
I firmly believe that you will too! I have many hopes for you and your family during this time:
First off, I hope you and your family remain HEALTHY.
For those that have students at home, I hope that you enjoy this extra time with them. There are sure to be ups and downs, but this may be the last extended time you have everyone (or most) in the same place.
I hope you are learning new things about your Tiger! Even if this is their first year at RIT, they have likely changed during their time away. This is a perfect time to get to know them as the adult they are becoming.
I hope you have embraced the power of technology. Not only does it help you connect with friends and family members now, but you can use those newfound skills when your student returns to campus.
For parents of graduating students—know that my heart breaks for the losses you are experiencing this spring. I hope you find special ways to celebrate your Tiger. Even without a ceremony, this is perhaps the biggest accomplishment of their lives and they deserve it!
I hope you are finding community—those people that support you and get you through the tough days.
I hope I get to see you and your students SOON back on our beautiful campus.
Hang in there, Tiger Parents! As was shared in the We’re All in This Together video, RIT is a community that cares. You are a valued part of that community, and we are here for you.
A Few More Tips
Information about what you should and should not be doing during this pandemic are everywhere and, frankly, can be overwhelming! I don’t mean to overwhelm you, but want to keep including tips for those who need extra encouragement and tips to handle your situation:
Listen. Your student may be very frustrated right now. Online classes may be harder than they expected. They feel disconnected from their friends and classmates and are missing their typical activities on campus. They are feeling a loss of freedom at being “stuck” at home. Right now, your student may need a listening ear to share these feelings and vent—let them. Empathize, validate, and let them know you understand. And find a listening ear for your own frustrations as well.
Find routines. Routines can help the abnormal feel manageable. Even if they look very different than the norm, encourage your student and family to stick to some sort of schedule. This could be a morning exercise routine, family dinners, takeout every Friday, or Saturday movie night. Leave some room for your student to have their ‘college’ schedule (late mornings and later nights) but encourage them to find a routine that works for them.
Re-establish expectations. We gave this tip a couple weeks, but you are now more familiar with how your family is all chipping in with the management of the household. Now that you are settling in to this new normal, it may be beneficial to revisit your expectations and adjust responsibilities as needed.
Manage conflicts. Conflict during such stressful times is unavoidable. When it occurs in your home, encourage listening as all sides share openly. Don’t speak out of anger and remember that what you mean to say is not always what others hear. Compromise is key—you may have competing needs but hopefully you can find middle ground. Finally, if you need a break from one another, find a way to have some space!
Don’t neglect your mental health. Be honest with yourself about how you are feeling. Manage expectations about what productivity and success looks like today—it is not the same. Find ways to distract yourself and have fun. Now is the perfect time to pick up old hobbies that you didn’t have time for before!
Campus Support Services
Even though most staff are working remotely, RIT offices are still available to assist students. These include:
Academic Advising: Advisors are available to meet with students virtually and will work directly with students to make a meeting plan.
Academic Success Center: All services are available online. Services include tutoring (math, physics, biology, and chemistry), supplemental instruction, assessments, and academic coaching. College tutoring centers (e.g. GCCIS, KGCOE, SCOB, CET, and NTID) also offer tutoring support online. Information on how to access college tutoring services as it becomes available will be posted here. Students can also request a virtual meeting with the ASC.
Counseling & Psychological Services: Counseling and Psychological Services and NTID Psychological Services remain open for remote clinical services. This includes Support Groups that occur on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays each week. Students do not need to already be engaged in counseling to attend these groups which create an opportunity for students to connect with each other, discuss reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic, and receive support. See the CAPS website for information on other services available.
Office of Career Services & Cooperative Education: Students are able to virtually meet with their career services coordinator with any co-op and career questions. Students should continue to use online resources such as RIT’s Handshake Platform (the primary source of co-op and full-time jobs posted for RIT students).
Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships: Although the office is closed, staff are working remotely during regular office hours and are available for questions. Forms and documents should be uploaded to this secure site which protects confidential information.
Writing Commons: The Writing Commons provides online consultations utilizing the WCOnline platform. RIT students can make appointments to meet with a writing consultant through chat, video, and shared document functions.
Advice from Alex Alex, a Tiger Family Leader, offers advice from the student perspective each month.
Moving to online learning has presented itself to be a less-than-simple switch for a variety of students, many of whom have essentially had to uproot themselves to move back home on short notice. Some students are adjusting very well to this new method of learning, and others, like myself, feel like they’re missing out on the hands-on experiences that our lab and studio times once provided. Either way, this sudden switch can come with a lot of stressors. Luckily, there’s also a variety of things parents and families can do to support their students during this time:
Communicate about schedules: Who has classes, work, or meetings, and when are they?
Designate work spaces: Make sure everyone has a space that they can work where no one will be distracting or disruptive for each other. If there are certain spaces or materials, like a computer, that need to be shared, refer back to tip 1.
Carve out some family time: Now that our social interactions are limited, take advantage of the time you now have with your student that you may not have had before. Have family dinners, or a family movie or game night where you can all have fun and de-stress.
Check in with your student: Every student and family is unique. Ask your student to see how they’re doing personally, and if they have any specific needs you might be able to help fulfill.
Information and Updates
We know there are ongoing questions about Coronavirus topics. RIT’s Coronavirus website continues to be primary place for updates and information for things like:
How can students get the belongings they left in housing?
How will housing/dining credits be issued on student accounts?
What is RIT planning in place of Commencement ceremonies?
What will happen with summer classes?
Please continue to monitor that site for updates. If your question is not answered there, you can reach out to the Call Center at 585-474-3500.
Last month, we sent you information about how your student should fill out the 2020 Census, but your student’s residence may have changed in that time. Here are updates to how your student should fill out the Census:
If your student was living off campus, they can respond to the census at www.2020census.gov.
Students should provide their off-campus Rochester address where they lived during the 2019-20 academic year as their primary address even if they are currently at home or living elsewhere at this time.
If your student lived in RIT-owned housing, they don’t need to do anything. RIT is working with the Census to make sure they are counted!
If your student is an international student, they are eligible to be counted for the census, so the same information as above applies.
It is important that students be counted at RIT. The census results not only determine where federal funding should go to support communities like the greater Rochester region, but they also impact the distribution of federal funding for educational purposes such as Pell Grants and support for engineering, science, health services and other important federal programs.
Final Exam Dates
The academic calendar and exam calendar for the rest of the semester has not changed. While all students’ individual schedules vary, here are the dates for final exams:
Last day of classes: April 27
Reading Day: April 28
Final exams: April 29-May 6
Final grades due: May 8
Each month, we ask parents to respond to our Parent Poll and provide feedback on a topic related to RIT, your student, and you. In March, we asked how important it is that your student engage in a religious/spiritual community. This was very important to 17% of you, and very unimportant to 30% of you. Please take a moment to answer our April question. Note: When responding to the April question, please think about a typical semester and not your current situation.
We are unable to post our usual photos of campus, but still encourage you to follow the Parent and Family Programs Facebook page for updates, tips, and discussions with other RIT parents. We recently shared printable signs help your family with needed boundaries as you share a work space.