You’re Not in This Alone: Tips for Students During COVID-19

Today’s guest blog features tips and advice for students graduating in what has become an unusual year. Co-written by LG Youth Advisory Council members Samer Rihani and Furqana Khan, they share advice on finances, international studies and helpful resources for confusing times.

Samer Rihani is executive director of the SFU Blood, Organ & Stem Cell Club and conference director for the Red Cross Student Movement, initiatives supporting humanitarian causes such as refugee awareness and stem cell donation. Furqana Khan is a mental health clinician and social worker, who is passionate about health and health equity matters, especially as they relate to youth.

Although everyone has been affected by the unprecedented worldwide pandemic we’re currently in, the youth of today are in additional uncertainty. Specifically, students who were graduating or almost graduating high schools or post-secondary schools may feel lost. So, for all the anxious students out there, we wanted to share some key pointers and resources that may be helpful. Difficult and unusual times often lead us to try new things and approach ideas that we otherwise would not have, and these tips may provide a new approach you may not have thought of.

Although everything may seem chaotic right now, rest assured things will be okay. So what if you never really grasped that last chapter of the chemistry lab, it’s quite likely that nobody did. And professors know this. Remind yourself that your difficulties and stressors are most likely identical to thousands of other students across the country and across the world. Remember that you are not in this alone – students across the world are learning and growing during these times just as you are! Don’t believe us? Check out all these meme posts on Instagram to relate!

In terms of job hunting, you may have to alter your approach. Whether you are just leaving high school or graduating with a degree, this excellent blog from Forbes post may provide you with some actionable next steps about how to navigate a changing workforce. While many companies and industries are altering their approach to business, keep a close eye out for changes to industries and stay up-to-date on platforms such as LinkedIn where you can see how your skills may be useful in the ever-changing job market.

In terms of finances, keep an eye out for new resources. Along with the federal government’s emergency benefit, the provincial government in BC has also created an emergency workers program. And if you’re ineligible for both of them, the emergency benefit for students may be for you. Even other institutions, aside from educational ones, may be sympathetic to your situation in the coming months. For example, resources such as BC Hydro’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and Fortis BC’s Customer Recovery Fund may temporarily assist you. Make use of the extra time and resources by managing your finances using tools and services like budgeting apps and financial advisors you can trust.

In terms of travel, your plans need not disappear – they just need shuffling. Ask any international student stuck abroad during the pandemic, there are major pros and cons to this situation. While you may have thought about travelling during your studies, our new reality may pose additional hurdles. Nevertheless, there are ways to secure internships despite the pandemic. Meanwhile, check on your international peers – this is a crazy time and they could use support like all of us!

Engage locally with some incredible initiatives. Now more than ever, B.C. has seen some incredible initiatives that are working to help individuals across the province, all while being spearheaded by local youth! An amazing example is 1,000 Donors – a nationwide initiative by health services, undergraduate students, and other Canadians to help support blood donations and stem cell registry during COVID-19. Visit their page online or take the time to explore other such local programs to keep yourself busy. This is just one of many ways to get involved in your community while also making a meaningful change and potentially even save a life with these unique opportunities arising in unprecedented times.