It's old news at this point that college life is going to be very different for students come fall. Before spring semester was even over, many universities closed down due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and were already making announcements about their plans for the fall semester. My school has decided to resume in-person instruction and residential life starting in August, and even though all I want is for normal college life to return this fall, I know that won't be the case.
While this pandemic has affected people in far different and worse ways than it has affected me, I know my senior year is going to be nothing like I imagined or hoped it would be. And what makes it harder is that I don't know what to expect at this point. Every week I get a new email outlining the updates about how my university will function when classes resume. There will be an accelerated schedule. Random COVID-19 testing. No classes larger than 30 students. Weekend classes.
It's hard to prepare for a senior year I don't know will happen and potentially miss out on things I've been looking forward to for years.
Now, I understand that those things are by no means terrible. They're reasonable and safe precautions and measures my school has to take so that we can return to campus. But with so much uncertainty around it all, I can't imagine or prepare for what things will truly be like. With the new accelerated schedule, classes are going to start a week earlier and end before Thanksgiving break. After that, students won't return to campus before Christmas, and we'll take finals online. Because of this, some Friday and weekend classes are going to be required to make up for reduced class sizes (to ensure social distancing is possible) and the lost time.
Professors have been asked to think of how to host their office hours outside. Study spaces are being transformed to allow for social distancing. We're going to be able to return to campus and take classes, but at what cost? College isn't just about the classes. It's also about studying with friends in the library, having meetings for the clubs you're in, eating in the student centre, talking with professors in their offices, and going to guest-speaker lectures. While I still prefer this all to online classes, I still feel like I'm going to be missing out on so much while having to attend classes in the most impersonal way. Not to mention all the extracurricular and social events, activities, and traditions that will be cancelled.
Even with all of these precautions, I'm still not sure my school will really open this fall, as COVID-19 cases are still rising at an alarming rate and many states are shutting things down again after they started to slowly reopen. It's hard to prepare for a senior year I don't know will happen and potentially miss out on things I've been looking forward to for years.
But through it all, my friends are keeping me going. The lease for our seven-person house started on June 1, and we're still planning on making the most of it. Despite the uncertainty around school, this will be my first time living with my six best friends. No matter what classes or campus life looks like, I'll at least be with the people that matter most to me — people who are going through the exact same things as I am.
I know that my senior year of college will be pretty unconventional come August no matter how my university decides to handle things, but my friends and I will get through it together. And regardless of the ways the pandemic has affected us all, we're doing our best to support each other and have the best last year together. Is it the senior year we asked for or imagined? Of course not. But we're going to make the most of it and cherish the extra time together we've all been afforded. And that's enough for now.