College Students Are Getting the Ultimate Life Lesson Right NowBy Ernest Hamilton, UniversityHerald Reporter
The coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19 has changed our lives in so many ways it's hard to even keep track. This extends into the world of college and higher education as well. There were already some major transformational trend lines visible from the last decade, but the pandemic has drawn them all into sharper focus.
Thousands of colleges closed their doors prior to the Fall 2020 term even starting. Many of them switched their courses over to online virtual classrooms, which angered some families that had paid top-dollar for access to some of the vaunted educational brands in the country.
The impact has been dramatic with college life and higher education possibly permanently altered.
Getting grub and staying caffeinated
College-aged students are one of the demographics least likely to die from covid-19 but most are still being smart about it and staying inside. While total quarantine may not be possible, many students are either working remotely from home ("hello again mom and dad, thanks for having me back") or their dorm rooms. Fortunately, many corporations and local businesses have altered their business models and supply lines to cater to this.
Many pizza places (a college favorite) are offering contact-free pickup and delivery. Additionally, services like GrubHub and DoorDash have made it possible to get virtually any kind of food you want...virtually.
Another college favorite, coffee shops, has seen major changes as well. While some coffee shops are open to those who wear masks, many have switched to curbside service or to-go orders only. For college students, one of the great draws of coffee shops was having a safe study-haven for late-night cram sessions. That's out of the equation in most cities, though some restrictions are gradually being rolled back.
Fortunately, the coffee industry is undergoing the same kind of digital proliferation we saw with food delivery in the last decade. College students (and adults, too) can get an online coffee subscription that will allow them to select beans from the country's best roasters, personalize their orders, and get pounds of coffee delivered right to their doorsteps. Now they just have to make sure they use the right filters.
Completing coursework online and no shared campus experience
No doubt, one of the biggest changes to college this year has been the mass exodus of coursework and lectures to online platforms. Thousands of colleges around the country made this change and there's no telling how long it could be in effect for.
There's no escaping the reality that a big part of the college experience isn't just coursework and book learning but also the social education that occurs when students live and go to class on campus. Some of the best college memories come from that shared experience, as teenagers and young adults in their 20s experience life on their own for the first time. Sadly, the pandemic has ruined that aspect of college for the foreseeable future, even those living on campus have to worry about constant testing, distancing, and sanitizing. Students are left to stay in their small dorms and buy everything from food to bathroom products online.
The big question is whether education will suffer from the remote learning model. Many employees claim to get more work done when working remotely, but there's no guarantee that will carry over to college coursework. Many college and university campuses are equipped with vast libraries, labs, facilities, and educational resources that simply can't be reproduced by logging into a web portal.
Fortunately, many campus administrators, educators, and professors are doing everything they can to reproduce the best learning experience they can for their students.
Right from the beginning of the pandemic back in March, many college administrators realized the gravity of the situation and canceled in-person classes for the coming 2020 fall term. Many smartly listened to medical experts and healthcare professionals who warned that allowing for the usual college semesters would act as massive superspreading events that would cause hundreds of thousands of students to infect each other, their teachers, and eventually their families.
There's no way to know at this point how long students will have to sacrifice the in-person, on-campus aspect of their college experience, but for right now they should take solace in being part of a historic teachable moment that is educating all of us. When we look back at this time in the years and decades to come, will we be able to tell our children and grandchildren that we did the best we could to save as many lives as possible?
At the end of the day, college students may not be getting the usual college experience but they could very well be receiving the ultimate life lesson in how to conduct yourself and do the right thing during a difficult situation.