How It Feels To Be A College Senior In The Midst Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

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How It Feels To Be A College Senior In The Midst Of The Coronavirus Pandemic

A lot of changes have been made to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

While they are incredibly warranted, that doesn't mean people aren't getting fed up with the rules and regulations. 

We all want things to go back to normal but unfortunately, there’s no telling when that will be. 

Although the safest option would be to keep the world closed up, it’s not realistic. People need to work and kids have to go back to school. For students, we’re lucky that most of the threat of coronavirus has been during the summer. 

But the truth is, coronavirus has taken away a lot from students. 

I am by no means diminishing the effects of the virus or the hard work put in by healthcare professionals. 

However, I believe it’s important to hear what this virus has caused for the everyday college student. 

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My boyfriend and many other college students missed out on the opportunity to walk across the stage and get their diplomas. 

They missed out on the final two months of their college careers. It was upsetting to see and I can imagine even more upsetting to experience that heartbreak. 

The crazy thing was that no one knew it was coming. 

For my school, Ashland University in Ohio, we were on spring break when the news of possibly not returning got brought up. 

At first, we were told that spring break would be prolonged for two weeks in the wake of coronavirus stirring up. 

Then the next day, it was official that we would be completing the semester online. 

As a junior in college, I moved out on March 17. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this would affect my senior year. 

I was disappointed for the current seniors but honestly grateful that coronavirus wouldn’t impact my class. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

Fast forward to the beginning of summer, where talks of not returning to school began to unfold. 

Would we be going back in the fall? Or would I have to complete my first semester of senior year online and away from professors and friends?

It seems as if about a month of my summer was spent worrying about the possible outcome. 

Once I became comfortable with knowing that I had no control over the decision of my university, the answer came — we would be going back. 

The announcement came on June 15 and I was thrilled to see an email entitled, “Fall 2020: Stronger Together, Safer Together.”

Despite the uncertain circumstances, it felt very hopeful. 

I was grateful that I’d get the chance to return to school and finish out my final year of college with some sense of regularity. 

It wasn’t until I began to read the contents of the email that it became very apparent nothing would be regular. 

Move-in days are scheduled to be staggered over the course of several days to ensure people are maintaining their distance. 

Those with underlying health conditions are encouraged to request a single-room accommodation or commute from home. 

Everyone is required to wear a mask when outside of their personal living space. 

Off-campus travel is limited with no fall break and the semester switching to fully online after Thanksgiving break. 

There will be no returning back to campus before Christmas break — finals will be online. 

Clubs and organizations are not allowed to accommodate meetings or events for more than 50% of their group. 

Meals will be provided to-go and we must maintain a 6-foot distance if we choose to eat in the dining hall, which also has a cap at 50% occupancy. 

Classes will be offered both face-to-face and online, depending on the professor’s discretion. 

For courses that require unavoidable close contact such as science labs, Plexiglass and other barriers are being installed. 

Meetings with professors and advisors will be conducted virtually unless absolutely necessary. 

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As you can imagine, that was a lot for me to take in. Very quickly, I felt my senior year slip through my fingers. 

Do I even want to go back if there are so many changes? 

I thought about campus looking scary with everyone walking around with masks. I thought about the dining options being limited and the chance that our recreation center won’t be open. 

I thought about missing out on final laughs with friends in my classes. And most of all, I thought about my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, and how I won’t be able to see all my sisters at once. 

Important Greek events such as our fall Lip Sync competition or spring Greek Week will most likely be canceled or enjoyed virtually. 

Our annual homecoming football game will be held without people cheering in the stands. 

My final senior semi or formal dance probably won’t be happening. And my time with college friends will be overshadowed by the fear of someone contracting the virus. 

Suddenly, I began to wish to be in my boyfriend’s shoes. Yes, he missed out on his final two months of college but it was beginning to look like I might miss out on every month of mine. 

I have a great love for my school, the organizations I’m involved in, and the people that I have grown close to.  

I want to enjoy everything to its fullest and knowing that nothing will be full is a tough pill to swallow. 

Considering that the force of coronavirus is beginning to speed up again, there’s still a chance my university and many others change their mind on returning in the fall. 

The thought of this breaks my heart even more than the changes we might have to endure. 

That said, I’m learning that there is no mask-wearing or limited capacity that could ruin my senior year of college. 

The home I have built in little Ashland, Ohio is bigger than the changes to come my way. 

I would not be who I am today without my friends, sisters, professors, and mentors at Ashland University. 

With them by my side, I am not afraid. With them by my side, I am strong — we all are. 

Like the motto says, we will be stronger and safer together. And for right now, that’s enough for me. 

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Isabella Pacinelli is a writer who covers relationship, self-love, spirituality, and entertainment topics.