How Newman University Is Preparing Seniors for Life After Graduation Amidst COVID-19

Sheridan Sommer / Newman University »

The year 2020 has been a wild ride. There have been so many changes within schools, jobs, and lifestyles. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is Newman University’s ability to prepare students for anything, even in the midst of a global pandemic. From classes being moved completely online to moving out of the dorms, last semester was nothing short of disappointing. The one good thing that did come out of the pandemic was the character it built in all the students. The unexpected twist in students’ lives taught them to lean into challenges instead of shying away from them. The professors even encouraged students to challenge themselves and to think outside the box with different projects. It wasn’t easy, but with the help of Newman’s faculty and staff, students were able to finish their second semester successfully online. This helped many May 2020 graduates to expect the unexpected in life after graduation and to never be afraid to ask for help.

How Newman is helping students adjust to the pandemic

Newman University has done a great job of helping students adjust to the pandemic. Not only are students following mask and social distancing guidelines, but we also have sanitation stations located all over campus. There is also an online COVID screening tool with several medical questions to help students determine if they should go to class or not that day. Newman is also doing hybrid courses this semester, where students have the option to physically go to class or to Zoom into the class. These hybrid courses are very helpful in the case where students are sick and/or quarantined. Class sizes are very limited this year to ensure enough physical distance for students’ health. 

Toward the beginning of the pandemic, when classes officially moved online for the rest of the semester, it was very difficult for some students to adjust. Thankfully, the professors understood the challenges of online school for students and made accommodations accordingly. Last semester, I was in one particular class that was more difficult than the rest. I ended up Zooming with my professor to ask for help with some of the assignments and, not only did he help me with the assignments, but he also gave me extensions for the remaining ones. The professors are still very understanding this semester and have extended office hours, whether they face-to-face or through Zoom.

Newman also has dedicated a space for students who must be quarantined, with food and drink delivered three times a day. Not only does Newman have this space for students to physically recover, but it also provides mental health services to help students recover mentally as well—one of the greatest challenges in quarantine. Personal counseling services with a licensed counselor is available to students at no cost for the first six sessions. This helps students freely express their emotions and feelings to a trusted adult about everything that has happened in 2020. 

Advice to students on ways they can use their last year at a university to set themselves up for success

As a senior this year, I have some good advice for students on how to set themselves up for success in their last year at a university. 

  1. Talk to your advisor: Advisors can be really helpful to you if you take advantage of their help. For example, my advisor recommended when I should start applying to Physical Therapy programs and also helped me figure out what classes I will need to get into a program. It never hurts to ask for help from your advisor if you are struggling with knowing what to do in the future. 
  2. Use your resources: Make sure to use all the available resources your school offers. For example, the career services center we have at Newman offers many resources to help students prepare for life after graduation. They offer résumé help, tips on how to dress for success, and how to get you the perfect internship. 
  3. Take on as many opportunities as you can: As a senior, you may have the chance to take classes unrelated to those required in your major. I highly recommend that you take a class that sounds different and interesting to you because you may end up really enjoying it. You may even learn a new skill from that class. For example, I ended up taking Introduction to Theatre and thoroughly loved it. I never realized all of the little details that went into a theatre production, but now I do. So take a new class if you can, because you may never get the chance to again.

This year has been full of unexpected challenges, but Newman University has helped students through it all. From successfully completing a semester online to helping seniors prepare to graduate in the midst of a pandemic, Newman faculty and staff continue to amaze everyone with their hard work and dedication. If the class of 2020 can graduate in a pandemic, you can too.