As I enter my senior year of college I’m struck with the thought, “This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen” …
Throughout the summer I watched the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) online scheduler continuously adjust my upcoming fall classes — first moved from building to building and then to later hours in the day. My Spanish class was even deleted off my schedule entirely, leaving me to scramble in August to find not one, but two replacements, since it was a five-credit class.
The scramble has felt constant since COVID-19 hit this past spring. I was originally planning to spend this fall semester studying abroad in Spain. In March, when that no longer seemed like a safe option, I decided to spend the fall at CU and continue to be a Resident Advisor (RA), as I had last year. As summer continued, with little to no communication from the school about safety measures in the dorms and an ever-increasing student population within them, I decided the residence halls were no longer safe either and resigned from my position.
Instead, I planned to live with my aunt in Arvada, Colorado, so at least I wasn’t having to find an apartment with unknown roommates or a temporary sublease. However, my aunt is older and has a medical condition. I’m terrified that living with her while attending class on campus subjects her to getting sick. After endless hours of searching for classes that are remote or online, I have created an almost perfect schedule that would allow me to stay off-campus altogether.
But, since I am late to the game in enrolling in alternate courses that fulfill degree requirements and allow me to graduate in the spring, while still being online, I’m on the waitlist for two classes. Another class is a “hybrid” class, which means some days we meet in-person and others we meet via Zoom or another remote method. My advisors tell me the department is supposed to be flexible and help me, but I’ve heard nothing back from this professor after emailing more than once. Graduating in three years, at the age of 20, with a major in English Literature, a major in Women and Gender Studies and a certificate in LGBT Studies is no small feat, let alone having to coordinate with multiple advisors and professors and scouring the class search for something that suits my unique situation.
As an out-of-state student, I’m trying to figure out travel plans with my family. Both of my parents have to take off work in order to help me drive back to Colorado since flying doesn’t seem like a safe option. But, the car I was planning to take out there in order to commute to school is having transmission issues and we have to sell it. In sum, I’m feeling overwhelmed and uncertain and stressed out and frustrated and tired.
I’m feeling overwhelmed and uncertain and stressed out and frustrated and tired.
I think most students start their last lap of college with anticipation and hope, and maybe some burnout, but are overall full of excitement about what the future will hold. I’m more hesitant than anything else — afraid to sit in class, afraid to get my aunt sick, afraid to enter a workforce that’s smaller and more cutthroat than normal.
I’m also sad that I can’t hang out with friends and go explore the area now that I finally have a car, sad that I can’t study in the library, sad that I can’t meet people for coffee or go to football games.
What was touted to be the best four years of my life (now shortened to three) have flown by. I thought I’d be okay with graduating early, but now I feel like I’m missing out on certain experiences, because I can’t go out without the risk of getting sick. I wish I could offer some hopeful note to end this, but I’m feeling pretty hopeless right now — a feeling I’m sure is close to universal for the class of 2021.
This pandemic has taught me to be more appreciative, because you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. My main goal for this last year is to take classes I’ve always wanted to, to relish in attending class instead of dreading it and to ultimately just be more intentional in my work.
Really all we can do is take life day by day and not be afraid to sit in the uncertainty of it all. As a big proponent of planning, that’s a bit difficult for me, but I’m trying, and that’s all I can ask of myself.
Really all we can do is take life day by day and not be afraid to sit in the uncertainty of it all.
Maybe that’s the silver lining here … that we are all asking something new of ourselves — an opportunity to grow and stretch. Life will continue to present inevitable challenges, and I guess that’s what college has been preparing me for all along.
Photo by Zino Bang.