The transition from middle school to high school can be a rocky time, even under the best circumstances. But, with COVID-19 resulting in distance learning, special protocols, and intermittent closures, freshmen are facing some serious obstacles this year.

This is hardest for students who enrolled in distance learning. After all, the first few months of high school are an important time for students to adjust and learn the ropes. How can you do that if you can’t physically be at school?

That’s not to say it’s easy on kids who attend class in person, though. The fact that we have to maintain social distancing protocols means that many extracurricular activities like sports, clubs, and events are either limited or canceled entirely. On top of that, the social distancing makes it even harder to develop bonds and friendships with students at your new school.

Yeah, we know that social distancing is important for the protection of students, teachers, and administrators. That doesn’t mean it’s not disappointing, though.

With all this in mind, here are a few things you can do that might make this adjustment period a little easier.

#1. Be Real

We always want to hope for the best; that’s just human nature. If we always expect the best, though, we’re going to be disappointed most of the time. That’s why it’s important to set some reasonable, realistic expectations for this school year.

COVID-19 isn’t going to go away any time in the immediate future. If you’re realistic with your expectations, it will be easier to accept certain things that you’re unable to change. This will let you be a little more flexible, so it won’t feel like the end of the world any time something goes wrong.

Things will get back to normal eventually. You’ll be able to hang out with friends and participate in sports and clubs soon. In the meantime, though, it’s best to just take each day as it comes, without setting too many expectations.

#2. Keep in Contact

Another way to keep yourself grounded is to remind yourself that this isn’t something happening only to you.

There are millions of other students out there sharing your experiences all across the country. It could be helpful to speak with your peers, whether that’s people in your friend group, or other kids you don’t know, to talk about what you’re going through.

On an intellectual level, you already know that this is something that everyone is dealing with at the same time. However, talking through it with other people makes it feel more concrete. When you remind yourself that everyone is living through something similar right now, it can make you feel less alone in the struggle.

#3. Look Inward

Freshman year is a pivotal point. You end up learning a lot about yourself during this period, but a lot of that growth tends to come from interacting with other people. You’re effectively learning about yourself by learning about others. So, where does that leave us now?

It’s true that you can’t interact with people on the same level that you would have been able to before COVID. What you can do, though, is spend some time meditating on yourself.

Ask yourself: how do you feel? How do you think? What do you believe? This can be a great opportunity to learn more about the thoughts in your own head when removed from the influences that other people have on us. Then, when things go back to normal, you can come at it with a stronger understanding of who you are as an individual.

#4. Explore a Hobby

Even though we’re not under strict quarantine right now, most of us still aren’t leaving the house all that often these days. It can be tempting to just spend more of that free time indulging hobbies you already have; for instance, a lot of us are probably spending more of our time gaming than we were before. But, this can be a good time to try something new.

People of all ages are taking this opportunity to pick up new hobbies and learn new skills. Some popular ideas people have been talking about online a lot lately include:

  • Learning to bake
  • Taking up running or cycling
  • Improving your drawing or painting skills
  • Learning a new language
  • Starting a journal or blog
  • Taking up photography

It could even be something as simple as reading more. Any new hobby or skill will work; it just needs to be something that gives you the feeling that you’re investing time in improving yourself, rather than wasting it.