This school year will certainly be one like no other. For college students like myself, the idea of another remote semester can be incredibly frustrating, and it is hard not to feel anxious about the opportunities and experiences we have lost. College is built around time spent with peers, from living together in dorms to cheering on our school teams. With so much surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic still in flux, many college students do not know what this fall will bring.
I will be beginning my senior year at Fordham University in the Bronx this fall. I am incredibly grateful to be attending school in New York, where cases are considerably lower than the rest of the country. The process of moving in will not be as complicated, as I do not have to quarantine myself, nor do my roommates. Even so, I have struggled with a lot of anxiety throughout the summer already, wondering whether I am missing out on so many precious senior year traditions and whether we could potentially be sent back home.
Universities are taking many different approaches to the situation, and it largely depends on where the school is located. I was given the opportunity to opt for remote classes or in-person (with the professors being given the final say). I am able to live in my apartment on campus regardless of which method I choose.
With many classes being held online, whether by choice of the students or the professors, the financial benefits of still paying for on-campus housing or an apartment nearby are uncertain. Many students are grappling with paying large amounts of money to live with their peers and attempting to preserve what they can of the traditional college experience. Others are opting out, choosing to take online classes from home. Students from universities across the country have even urged for their schools to lower tuition due to online instruction.
There is no right answer in navigating the college experience amid the unprecedented pandemic we are facing. The decision to move on-campus, live in off-campus housing or stay home, as well as to take online or in-person classes, are deeply personal. Each student must consider their own comfort level, their physical and mental health, their financial situation and much more.
No matter what you have decided, the uncertainty looms above us all. It is hard not to feel like we are still losing so much as things continue to be cancelled or changed. Knowing that my senior year will, at least for the first half, be held largely online with a much quieter campus environment is upsetting, but I am comforted in knowing that we are all in this together. We are putting the health and safety of the community first, and that is what matters most.
I have found that this experience has taught me so much about myself. What I can handle, how much I can overcome. This generation that is experiencing such upheaval in times that are so precious will emerge with a strength that we will carry throughout our lives.
The uncertainty has brought many of us together, and this shared experience will be a deeper bond for the classes of 2020, 2021 and so on that we will not forget. We are also living in an age of technology that has allowed us to stay connected above all. While undoubtedly not the same, this technology is a vital tool for us to continue to remember those who are still by our side and who are struggling with the same worries and fears.
Anxiety is normal amid any kind of uncertainty, and we must learn to never feel guilty or ashamed for being worried. If you feel that you are struggling, do not hesitate to reach out to family or friends. There is no shame in seeking help — if you feel that you need assistance, mental health resources are here for you, including North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, which is seeing clients remotely. Remember that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Just months ago, many of us could never have imagined a situation like this. But here we are, and here we continue to go. We cannot make up for the time that would have been spent on campus. It is a reality we must come to terms with in order to move on. However, college is much more than the campus itself. It is the community forged from the shared experience of an institution and, if anything, going through this together, as a school community, can strengthen that. We know now that we can handle whatever is thrown our way.