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My message to students: Keep going

Stay on your academic paths. The rewards for doing so will last a lifetime, long after the coronavirus pandemic fades.

Dear U students and family members,

This is an unsettling time. With classes moving online, you are adapting to new ways of learning. With your part- or full-time jobs changing and, in some cases, disappearing, you may be facing real and immediate financial challenges. With family, friends and the community not gathering as usual, you may feel anxious and alone.

It would be tempting to stop out, withdraw and not finish the Spring 2020 Semester—with the idea that you will pick up your studies when things return to routine. And that impulse is very understandable.

My advice to you: Don’t do it.

Now more than ever, stay in school. Complete this semester and remain on track for earning your degree. You’ve already invested a lot in this semester and are well on the path to a life-changing achievement, one that sets you up for the best opportunities in the future. In times of economic downturn, having a degree really matters, with degree holders earning more and at significantly less risk of unemployment than their nondegree-holding peers.

At the University of Utah, we are doing everything we can to support you. We announced grading options last week designed to relieve pressure if needed. You may opt to continue your classes with a traditional letter grade or switch to a credit/no credit grade, with no impact on GPAs or the limit on taking credit/no credit courses. Details about this are available through the Office of the Registrar.

All of Utah’s colleges and universities are invested in your success and have resources to help you through the present challenge. At the University of Utah, we have implemented and enhanced many resources, such as:

  • An emergency fund that provides financial help, with support of generous donors, through our Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid
  • Online support from our Student Success Advocate team, including a new guide on how to succeed in online courses
  • The LEAP first-year learning communities’ faculty have rallied to provide engaging instruction for the remainder of the semester through online platforms, phone calls and encouragement
  • Telephone and online assistance from our Academic Advising Center
  • Counseling options that include telephone, online and telemental health for enrolled students and online resources for dealing with stress and anxiety

My message to you is to stay on your academic paths. The rewards for doing so will last a lifetime, long after the coronavirus pandemic fades. Your university or college is here to help. We will get through this together.