Aug. 7 2020 09:30 AM

Hi, welcome to college — here’s your unsolicited advice and a face mask!

Three years and a lifetime ago, I was preparing to start my college journey. I was scared, though I didn’t admit it to my parents, family members, or even my friends. I was also excited. I went college shopping with my best friends from high school and fretted over staying in touch as we went our separate ways. I printed out pictures to put up on the walls of my room, messaged with my future roommates, and awaited move-in day.

Keep in mind that while you may be dually anxious and excited, your parents are similarly overwrought. They might get a bit clingy or weird in the weeks before you leave (I know mine did), and you should expect that. This is hard for them, too. It may seem annoying, but some extra time with your family in the coming weeks will be worth it.

If you are attending a school that is going to allow families to help with the move in process, let your mom help you unpack. I’m going to say that again, because it’s important: Let. Your. Mom. Help. You. Unpack. You can reorganize everything later. She’s probably freaking out, and if she wants to help, let her.

If your school isn’t allowing families into the dorm buildings this year, let your parents help you pack or participate in the college shopping. Having a kid leave for college is tough anyway, but the circumstances this year may make it exponentially worse.

Blast off
Once you’ve completed the move-in process, you’ll probably have some sort of virtual orientation or icebreaker activity. This might seem lame, but you should participate. It’ll give you something to do besides watch Netflix, and it’ll help you connect with the people around you.

I was only an hour and a half away from home, but I quickly realized that college life was not anything like life at home. At the time, I wasn’t sure that I was going to join any of the ag clubs, or even interact with the other farm kids. I thought that I was going to college to escape my dairy upbringing, which seems to be a common sentiment.

Yet, I found myself missing cows within the first week. Our professor brought a Brown Swiss into our lab for a demonstration, and I almost cried. I had taken for granted the normalcy of interacting with animals on a daily basis. Later that week, I joined the dairy club, which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

This brings me to my next piece of advice: Regardless of your major or your career intentions, join the dairy club. It may be virtual this year, but it will still be worth it, and it’ll make college feel a little bit more like home.

You will find yourself missing your family. It’s okay to tell them that. Call them and keep them updated on how your classes are going. Stay in touch with people back home but engage with those around you just as much. I want you to know that the upperclassmen are all just as unsure as you are about how to go about this new semester, but we are there to help and provide advice in any way we can.

This global pandemic is hanging over all of our heads like an ominous, COVID-filled cloud. Will the semester last until Thanksgiving? Will there be an outbreak on campus? Will students follow social distancing and mask guidelines? None of us know the answers to these questions, so the best we can do is hope and get through this together.

Abbie Cox

Abbie Cox grew up in Cato, N.Y. on a first-generation dairy farm and currently attends Cornell University as a member of the class of 2021, majoring in animal science with a minor in education and a focus in dairy. On campus, she is involved with the Cornell University Dairy Science Club, Sigma Alpha, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and is a Peer Adviser with CALS Student Services. Cox has interned with the MILC group, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, and is the 2020 Hoard’s Dairyman summer editorial intern.