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Tips for a fantastic fall semester


The upcoming fall 2020 semester at colleges across the country will no doubt be unlike anything students have experienced before. STC offers some tips to help students stay safe while moving forward with their education and career goals.

After an exhausting summer of labor and logistics, South Texas College is 100% open and committed to hosting students — online and in-person — beginning August 24.

To help students get up to speed, we’ve asked two veteran South Texas College leaders for advice, suggestions, and hot tips for this first-of-its-kind fall semester.

Tip #1: “Expect the Weird.”

With the “new normal” shaping up to be anything but, STC English Professor Dr. Brett Millan is urging open-mindedness:

“This is uncharted territory,” says Dr. Millan. “We know things are going to change. Just expect the weird. Accept the ‘I don’t know.’”

Tip #2: “Settle in.”

There’s no avoiding it, says VP for Academic Affairs Dr. Anahid Petrosian: the first week of fall classes will be something of a whirlwind. According to Dr. Petrosian, however, it’s a time for preparation, not for panic.

In fact, all South Texas College classes will be held remotely during the last week of August, to ensure communication and compliance regarding COVID-19 protocols.

“We want to give faculty and students a chance to settle in during that first week,” says Dr. Petrosian.

Tip #3: Seek Support.

From first-time students to veteran administrators, virtually every member of the campus community is feeling the pressure to bring things “back to normal.” And while STC’s support services have largely migrated online, they’ll continue to play a crucial role in giving students the tools they need to persist.

“[Last semester] we delayed withdrawal dates and worked with students on grades and deadlines to help them reduce stress,” says Dr. Petrosian. “For our part, we just try to be very flexible.”

Visit studentservices.southtexascollege.edu for assistance with applying, registering, making a degree plan, or transitioning to online learning.

Tip #4: Keep Focused.

It’s a myth, according to Dr. Millan, that online learning makes it harder for students to connect with their curriculum and classmates. In fact, the decreased anonymity of online sections, coupled with increased focus and intimacy, can actually improve engagement for some types of students.

“It changes the dynamic,” says the professor and online learning innovator. “Maybe they’re too shy to ask a question in class… [but] online they send me 10 questions, so they’re not stuck or confused.

“For some students, I’ve had both online and face-to-face… it’s the same person, but it’s a different student.”

Tip #5: Stay Safe.

When in doubt, urges Dr. Millan, always prioritize personal safety. From making a habit of applying (and re-applying) college-provided hand sanitizer, to practicing social distancing in classrooms and on campus quads, student safety will ultimately depend on the actions of individuals.

“I like to avoid clichéd phrases, but it really does take a village,” says Dr. Millan.