Give thanks

Finding Reasons to Be Thankful in 2020 Despite A Turbulent School Year

While this year may have been quite a challenge to say the very least, it’s important to take some time over your holiday break and reflect on everything positive that still surrounds you – and to be grateful. Gratitude, after all, is a powerful human emotion that can help instill positive moods, relish positive experiences, feel more positive emotions, improve your mental health, and help you deal with adversity. All persuasive reasons for a stressed-out college student to work more gratitude into their life, even after the Thanksgiving holiday.

So, before we start counting the days of Christmas and all the random birds and golden rings involved, let’s count off a few reasons to be Thankful this year.

Increased College Affordability

The pandemic may have negatively impacted the educational system in a lot of ways, but one thing it didn’t change for the worse is the pace of college tuition increases. The increases are among the lowest in decades and at some schools – didn’t increase at all.

In late March, the CARES act was passed – which suspended payments on federal student loans and waived interest through the end of the year – and with fingers crossed, hopefully indefinitely. Modified fall plans at many Universities also offered tuition discounts for students, helping them save in the range of 10-15% off at some elite colleges, and more than 30% at less-selective Universities. Southern New Hampshire University is even offering a free year for first-time freshmen. But that’s not all! Some colleges waived or refunded student-activity fees, which can average almost 2k per year at a public four-year college. So, while college is still pretty expensive, let’s be thankful for these aids and discounts that have made it a little easier for us to focus on our education and less on our financial hurdles.

The Opportunity to Have A Higher Education

Your spring or fall semester of school may not have been ideal this year, but it’s important to remember what a privilege it is to be able to get a higher education. Everyone wants one, but not everyone can receive one.

And though it’s hard to be grateful while temporarily burdened by student loans – know that the hard work and perseverance to finish your degree and accomplish your goals and dreams will one day pay off. Employment is steadier for those with higher education, and graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn $32,000 more on average than those with a high school diploma.

Online Education

Attending university online probably isn’t the ideal way for some students to learn, study or get the full “college experience”, but why not be thankful for even having the ability to continue our education throughout a pandemic. Not only that, but online education opens doors for students everywhere– including those who need the flexibility of online courses to work around full-time work schedules, childcare/family and other personal responsibilities.

Your Friends, Family and The Technology That Keeps Us Together

If anything, this strange and difficult year has made us recognize the importance of our family and friends, so let’s be thankful for one another’s presence, love, comfort, support and despite an undisputedly rough year – that we’ve made it this far together. And while we’re being all mushy-gushy, let’s not forget to show a little gratitude for technology like Zoom and Facetime for giving us the opportunity to virtually hang “face to face” when obstacles like lockdowns or a general concern for one another’s safety have forced us apart.

Here are a few other important (if not more important) things to be thankful for this year:

  • Frontline workers – medical professionals, police officers & firefighters.
  • Essential Workers – teachers, delivery people, grocery store clerks and other essential people who risk their health to make our lives easier.
  • Our Pets
  • New Hobbies
  • Humor
  • Religious Faith
  • Books
  • Food Delivery
  • Movie and TV Streaming Services
  • The Snooze Button
  • Coffee
  • Toilet Paper

About the author

Phil Smyres
CEO and Founder of
I graduated from Ohio State University, and I’ve been in Columbus, OH ever since. In 1994, I started buying and selling books on campus with two brick and mortar stores. Those stores have since closed but has remained a premier online retailer for all your textbook needs. During this time, we’ve also added two additional online retailers, and

My interests include spending time with my family, traveling everywhere and watching Ohio State football.