web analytics

The College Class of COVID-19

Apr 1, 2020

By Frankie Ralbovsky

It happened. The one thing that students across the world didn’t think would; with half a semester remaining, all classes went online. These are eerie times, not that many of us are reacting, but we are used to an overflow of media. Throughout our lives we have been subjected to an astronomical quantity of scandal, natural disaster, terrorism, economic failure, war, and disease on screens that we now keep in our back pockets. As a generation that grew up on The Hunger Games and shows like Under the Dome and The Walking Dead, I think a lot of young people are unfazed by the state of the world right now, while simultaneously feeling deeply terrified. 

photo by Nathan Dumlao

Being sent home from college unexpectedly was the last thing college students wanted from their spring semester. We left our friends on casual goodbyes for spring break, only to find out that may have been the last goodbye. For many students, they were given 48 hours to evacuate their dorms and even abroad programs. Ryan, a Junior studying at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, feels as if “It’s definitely very disconcerting especially since I live in the city basically year-round. It kinda feels like the rug’s been ripped out from under me because truly every single thing in my routine has changed in the last two weeks.” I think many students around the world can relate to that feeling. We have spent our whole college careers building ourselves a life on campus to have it unexpectedly pulled away from us. Jackie, a junior at Marist College and a very active member on campus said she “[received] a phone call and email that I’ve been laid off from my job working in wholesale sales for a fashion company that I’ve been with for almost a year now. And about an hour later, I got an email that my internship, with my dream company that I worked so hard to get for the summer, has now been canceled.” She feels disheartened by the whole situation, the company she was planning on interning for had been her dream since freshman year. Jackie “went through the very extensive interview process, which included doing a mock presentation. It felt like everything [she] had worked for had finally fallen into place. Especially because [she knew] this company often hires their interns, it just feels like the world has given up on everybody.” Students are looking into the future after the pandemic with hope. Ashley, a senior studying at Marist College, is one of the directors of the Silver Needle Runway show as her senior capping project. Having the show canceled has presented her and her team with new challenges, and they are now working to create some form of virtual show, which has allowed Ashley to become comfortable with quick adaptations. When asked about how she feels going into the workforce after this pandemic is over she stated: “While it is scary to be entering a struggling job market due to the pandemic, I feel like a stronger candidate than I was a month ago because I now know I can handle almost any unexpected situation.”

Katie, a Marist College student studying abroad, was given two days to vacate her apartment in Australia. Prior to receiving the alarming email that the campus would be revoking her VISA if she failed to return home, her family had been in contact with the school attempting to let her ride out the pandemic overseas. Leaving Australia and flying into JFK may have exposed her to COVID-19, and she now worries about infecting her family. Thea, a Junior from the University of Vermont studying abroad in Austria was only encouraged by her university to abandon the program. After denying the severity of the situation to herself, “[she] had a HUGE break down when [she] faced that fact, but then just had to accept it and focus all [her] energy on leaving safely as soon as possible, because travel restrictions were escalating so quickly.”  Aside from her professors being extremely understanding, she is stressed about having to tune into lectures at three in the morning, and stated that “It’ll definitely be interesting trying to make a podcast with someone in Romania about the role of the amygdala in Autism.”

Ryan is also concerned with his education and stated that the college has not been helpful with refunding portions of the semester. When asked about how online classes were going he said “It doesn’t feel much like learning. It’s hard to get engaged on a laptop in your home for me. As a theater major, almost all of our classes can’t exist online in any sort of recognizable way, so we’re losing out on pretty much all of our education since everything is hands-on work.” Katie expressed that she is nervous about taking classes online and like Thea, she has a time difference she has to navigate when tuning into lectures or communicating with professors. In the past she never took the option to participate in online classes because she knew with her learning disability learning online would be extremely difficult, “I now have to teach myself at home with no educational support.” Jordyn, a senior studying at the University of Vermont, is concerned as to how her classes that require lab practicals and other in-person assignments will be conducted. 

As a generation, we were born in a state of high anxiety and uneasiness about the world and we have just had another life experience snatched away. One student I spoke to left me with a few wise words: “Right now is a great time to reset and refresh, think about what you’re doing and who you care about. I think a lot of us are missing people and feeling lost. If anything good could possibly come from this, it’s a greater appreciation for people and for what we have” (Liam, senior, Marist College).  However, whether we know it or not, as a generation we are experiencing profound loss and grief. In these early days, most of us are still in shock, many of us have expressed anger, and it is hard to guess what acceptance will look like. I didn’t write this piece to draw attention to how sad this is for college students because believe me we know this is bigger than any one of us. I wrote this piece to give you a glimpse into the minds of those about to enter the workforce, those figuring out not only themselves but their positions in the world as well and how we are facing this pandemic together. 

Sign up for our newsletter to receive news & events.