Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Student Stressed About Switching to Online Classes

DEAR HARRIETTE: My school has recently gone online for the duration of the spring semester due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. The professors are scrambling to adjust to these new changes. I am worried about how I am going to adjust. I am anxious about taking online classes; I work better when I can physically see the professor. I have been doing well, and my GPA is decently high; I don’t want this to drop my grades. What can I do to stop thinking of the worst-case scenario? And how do I adjust to the sudden changes? -- Virtual Student

DEAR VIRTUAL STUDENT: You and your professors are all in this together. The learning curve is significant, and hopefully your professors will keep that in mind when it comes to teaching and grading. What you can and must do is submit questions whenever you do not understand something. Be insistent when you are unclear. Ask your professors for guidance, and make it clear whenever you are struggling. Find out if your professors will offer virtual office hours when you can speak one-on-one or in small groups to address your concerns. The more you ask for what you need, the better your professors will be able to design the curriculum and support services that will help all students learn in this new reality.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just started “talking to” a guy before school was canceled and we were told we can’t get together with friends. We talk on SnapChat because that’s how kids communicate, but this can only last so long. Normally kids my age start hanging out by now so that they get to know each other better. I’m not quite sure what to do. I have never dated before, but I like this guy, and I know he likes me. How can we keep things moving forward without it getting awkward? I have no idea when we will see each other in person again. -- Puppy Love

DEAR PUPPY LOVE: Years ago, people became pen pals when they couldn’t physically be in each other’s company but they wanted to stay close. SnapChat is a modern version of this idea. You are right: It can grow old fast if it feels like it’s time to go to the next level. It’s time to get creative. Since you both like each other even though it’s new, you can continue to send your funny messages by Snap, but also consider literally talking on the phone or texting as a bridge to talking. Engaging in lengthier conversations will help you to get to know each other better. The question will be who introduces the idea first. Consider putting it out there -- ask if he would like to text you sometime. That could feel scary because it is a next step toward intimacy, but someone needs to make the move to keep your interaction alive.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)