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Your New Normal: Making the Most of a Year Back on Campus

Back to school season is exciting for so many reasons this year. All of the things we have taken for granted as students, like in-person classes, meeting up with friends on the Drillfield, and enjoying the on-campus lifestyle, are more valuable to us than ever. More students are getting involved in organizations and enjoying all of the fun adventures and activities Blacksburg has to offer.

While we take advantage of campus coming back to life, we should always keep our personal wellbeing in mind. The volume of opportunities, activities, and responsibilities to keep track of can be overwhelming, and engaging in countless social events can be exhausting. For students who are finding the transition from online to in-person learning stressful, this article is for you! We’ll walk through some of Virginia Tech’s health and wellness resources and help you stay on top of your game this semester.

Academic Wellbeing

As students, our minds are always on our next class. Returning to, or experiencing for the first time, in-person lectures and labs, can have your head spinning trying to keep up with your new course load and assignments.

Seeking help sooner than later with a difficult class is key to preventing burnout later on. The Student Success Center offers a few primary services:

  • Peer Academic Coaching

  • Seminars

  • SSC classes

  • And tutoring

Peer Academic Coaching helps students develop their academic skills, such as improving study methods, strategizing for test-preparation, and building goal-setting strategies. You can meet with a coach on an as-needed or regular basis. Additionally, the Student Success Center hosts frequent seminars and semester-long classes on learning skills and strategies for pursuing academic success. Tutoring services are also available in a variety of subjects, for varying durations and meeting frequencies. You can even request help with technical issues on Zoom!

If you need help with broader questions about your academic plan or career path, then your first stop should be to your academic advisor’s office. Your assigned advisor (if you are unsure of who that is, you can check via the “General Student Information” time on HokieSpa) is knowledgeable about your school’s opportunities, the best classes to take for your goals and circumstances, and where to go for help with other related issues. They are great at talking you through a certain problem and helping you find the best course of action.

Many classes require lengthy research papers and thoughtful essays. Learning how to write the perfect paper is within arm’s reach at the Writing Center. Both virtual and in-person one-on-one tutoring in crafting a great essay and improving your English speaking skills are available via appointment.

You likely have already heard about this resource from one of your classes, but if you believe you need accommodations with regards to activities like test-taking or accessing class notes, you should contact Services for Students with Disabilities. They can help you work together with your teachers to ensure that you are comfortable and able to perform your best in class.

Of course, all of us run into tech troubles. VT 4Help is staffed with knowledgeable students and faculty to help you work through software issues on your devices. You can file a problem on their website and communicate with them on what causes you issues further.

Physical Wellbeing

Feeling under the weather can be both physically and academically taxing. Paying attention to your nutrition and taking time to rest can contribute to your health, but we all can get sick from time to time. Whether it’s aches and pains or the sniffles, the Schiffert Health Center is here to provide dedicated medical and physical care. You can make an appointment in advance or walk in for more urgent needs.

Not only is exercise important for maintaining your strength and stamina, but the endorphins from your daily run or lifting weights can boost your mood and improve your focus in other areas. For those who like to break a sweat, Recreational and Intramural Sports may be a great way to get some exercise and make some new friends! The McComas gym offers group classes in addition to open gym hours, and with a semester pass, you can join a wide range of fitness classes. From Zumba, to HIIT, to cycling, to yoga, there is a class for everyone. Intramural sports teams are also open to anyone looking for a way to become more involved in sports on campus. Apply for an intramural membership pass to join group games or schedule your own games-- e-sports included!

Mental Wellbeing

Regularly tapping into your mental and emotional state is crucial to feeling and performing your best-- in class, in your social life, at your job, and in your private life. Journaling, meditation, and creative activities are popular methods for keeping tabs on how we're feeling, but if these accessible strategies don't satisfy your needs, then you should visit VT’s primary resource for mental health is Cook Counseling Center. Apart from one-on-one counseling, they provide information by way of workshops and presentations and offer group-based therapy. If you are passionate about mental health and want to help the Cook Counseling Center spread its mission across campus, you can also join the Peer Assistance for Learning program. Find out if you could benefit from their services on their Online Screening Module!

Making an impact in your community can make your time on campus more meaningful and helps you feel closer to your fellow students. Hokie Wellness is a campus organization that promotes mental and emotional health in a more educational manner. They host addiction recovery communities, wellness-focused events that promote mindfulness practices, and accessible online content. You can join their team as a peer educator in one of their programs dedicated to a particular health topic, or as a part of the Hokie collective. The Hokie Collective allows students to become agents for positive change in their communities by educating them on socially relevant topics; accessibility and disability, microaggressions, and indigenous identity are only a few of their courses.

CWIB loves to support women, so of course we wanted to mention the Women’s Center as a great resource for our members. The Women’s Center is a place for female students to go to seek help for problems regarding safety, mental wellbeing, and professional development. They host a collection of programs and workshops that educate students about women’s issues and encourage women to succeed in the workplace.

Your mental health is supported by your social and emotional health, and engaging in your community is one way to satisfy those social needs! VT has so many organizations that allow students to explore their interests, build certain skills, or bond with their fellow Hokies. Many of these extracurricular groups can be found on Gobblerconnect.

However, if you want to connect with those of a similar cultural heritage, check out the Cultural and Community Centers. Located in Squires Student Center, these groups serve their cultural communities through personal and professional information, cultural events, and more! Keeping your culture alive and sharing it with others can enrich your academic experience and provide a source of support from a community with whom you share a special connection. Some of our school’s cultural centers include:

  • El Centro

  • American Indian and Indigenous Community

  • Asian Cultural Community

  • Black Cultural Center

  • LGBTQ+ Center

  • Intercultural Engagement Center

Being a student can be challenging as-is. Being a student in current times can be simply overwhelming. Before burning out, turn to some of VT’s on-campus resources and take the time to invest in activities and practices that support your academic, physical, and mental wellbeing. What do you do to feel and perform at your best?

By Lauren Miles

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