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College and Coronavirus: Distance Learning, Risk vs. Reward, My Verdict

by | Lifestyle Advice, Walk The Plank | 0 comments

College and coronavirus: My key considerations

College and coronavirus. Very early in the pandemic crisis, it became clear that they’re not birds of a feather — they don’t flock together. As the crisis ramped up, colleges shut down operations. During the 2020 spring semester, the “traditional” college experience became a thing of the past. Distance learning displaced in-person classes. Students struggled with the work-life-home experience. And I became dismayed. What would my college declare for the fall semester? Would I spend my senior year learning from distance?

As of today, Tufts still hasn’t made it clear what’s going to happen in the fall. But I’ve decided what I’m doing. I won’t be returning to college. I’m taking at least a gap semester, more likely a whole gap year. I’ve spoken to my parents about it, and they think it’s a good idea. So do I (obviously). But it wasn’t necessarily an easy decision to make. Here are some of my key considerations.

 

The 2020-21 school year would be my senior year, so…

I’m only two semesters away from completing my degree. Which meant that I was tempted to tough it out. Especially since I could actually finish my history degree in only one semester. I just wouldn’t be able to get my math minor.

I’m sure that a lot of other students, especially seniors, have gone through the same considerations. Freshmen students, on the other hand, have a different consideration. Do they want this crazy year to be their first year of college?In some ways, it makes even more sense for a freshman-to-be to take a gap year! I’ve been urging younger friends of mine to do it if they feel at all unready or unprepared for the world of higher education, post-COVID-19.

 

Regardless of whether or not a college opens, a lot of professors won’t be back.

One of my favorite professors, who also might become my thesis advisor should I decide to write a thesis, told me quite bluntly that even if Tufts reopens, she’ll be teaching remotely. And I totally understand! While college students have a very low chance of dying or even suffering from the novel coronavirus, many if not most professors are in the at-risk range. They won’t teach in person, which means many classes will be remote. And…

 

I absolutely hate remote classes, distance learning, whatever you want to call it.

I’d always suspected I wouldn’t be one for online learning, but I found it out last semester. And the blow hit full-force. Suddenly, classes I’d loved attending fell by the wayside. I couldn’t get myself to attend the “lectures.” And the discussion sessions? Totally awkward! I could no longer rely on people’s body language or even their expressions to understand the points they were getting across. To say it didn’t work for me would be an understatement. I found it impossible to focus on my computer screen during my hour and fifteen minute lectures.

I had one class where the professor went for a forum-type approach rather than a Zoom discussion panel. I liked this slightly better, but still! One week, I completely forgot to turn in my assignment. It totally slipped my mind, because I had no actual physical class to attend to.

It was a disaster. Luckily, I was able to keep my grades up and actually achieved straight A’s, probably half because my professors decided to take pity on all their students.

To say the least, the above convinced me that distance learning wasn’t for me, and that if most of my classes were going to be remote in the fall semester, I’d probably be better off taking a gap year.

 

I also have something pretty good going here…

… on the blog, that is. I’ve been loving the work I’m producing here, and I’ve gotten great feedback and great support from so many people. It gives me a little kernel of hope that, someday, I could make this my life. That along with writing fiction, of course. Now, I’m just waiting to see how my Metamorphosis launch will go. Metamorphosis is my rapidly-upcoming collection of short stories and poetry. It’ll be out mid-July. You can check out the cover reveal here!

And I was hoping to have lots of time in the upcoming year to devote to both the blog and my fiction writing — I’m hoping to have the first draft of my fantasy novel and the final draft of my mystery novel done by the end of this year, and that’s only going to happen if I put in the time. A gap year will give me the time. (I’ll have to do some work, mostly transcription and copywriting, on the side. But I’ll have time!)

Anyway, all those factors led up to my decision. The fact that my parents think it’s a good idea is the icing on the cake. Gee, I’ve finally made a decision my parents like! Sort of kidding, but sort of not. Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my life right now. 

 

In terms of advice for other collegians…

Do what you think will work for you. If you dislike distance learning like I do, this might not be the best year to go to college. If you’re worried about the job economy and think that taking a gap year will be great for your prospects, heck, I’d go for the gap year.

If, on the other hand, you think you can get through, why not get through? You’ll be done with college. And if you’ve been doing online learning for college anyway, then why not finish? If you think you’ll have nothing going for you during a gap year, maybe stay in school. But if you’ve got something great going… Maybe you would’ve been thinking about a gap year even outside the present situation. 

Whatever you do, take your time making your decision. Take as long as you need. Just, maybe, don’t leave it till the last day before classes start. That might leave you and your loved ones a little on edge. If you need advice, feel free to reach out to me if you think I can help you think things through. You can reach me on Twitter @VoyageoftheMind or find my email on my contact page here. I’m here to support you if you need me — for college and coronavirus worries or anything else.

college lecture hall with empty seats

In conclusion

It’s a tough time to make any major decision. All the parts are moving a bit too fast to keep track of. I wish you luck in all your endeavors over the next year, and I want to thank you for all the support you’ve given me in mine. 

If you enjoyed reading this reflection on college and coronavirus, please pass it along! You can also follow Voyage of the Mind using the buttons in the sidebar at the top of the page, or subscribe to our mailing list at the bottom. If you’re loving the content we produce, please consider supporting us on Ko-fi

Add your voice to the comments. Are you a college student? If so, what are you doing next year? If not, do you have fond memories from your college days? I’d love to hear your voice. 

And thank you, as always, for reading! 

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