This year, college is not what the freshmen were signing up for. COVID-19 tests, distance learning, no campus activities, parties banned, very little of the true college experience available. In the Boston Globe, Thomas Farragher tells the story of University of Massachusetts students, who are now on campus and facing a very different experience than the one they thought they’d receive. He writes:
“I can’t believe this is our life now. I’m really speechless about it,” said Caroline Ricciardi, a 21-year-old senior from Cherry Hill, N.J., enrolled in the UMass College of Nursing. “I’m sad. Just because it’s not what you signed up for when you were a freshman, you know?
“But I’m not angry. I’m sad. That would be the overwhelming emotion.”
There’s a lot of that going on these days.
If your image of college life is playing Frisbee on the quad, or sharing laughs with roommates in a dorm room overflowing with friends, or small-and-intense seminars dissecting the literary works of Shakespeare, you need some remedial assistance.
And if you think the students are now facing some alternate higher educational universe, listen to UMass administrators like Jeff Hescock and Ann Becker who this year faced the academic equivalent of building the boat while it’s already steaming offshore.
Hescock is UMass’s executive director of environmental safety and emergency management. Becker is the UMass public health director, a post she’s held for nearly 20 years.
They’ve seen viruses. They’ve seen waves of flu. They’ve never encountered anything like what has swept over one of the largest residential campus housing systems in the United States.
A college campus is a preplanned city, and living there is about as far as you can get from “living the island life.”
Your proximity to others in a dorm is reduced to the bare minimum. Probably only in prisons would you find less personal space than in a dormitory. Near-zero isolation.
Those students who do end up on campus this year will be facing a two-fisted foe of both isolation and anti-virus measures that will sap the vitality from their time at school. They need to create their own island where they can recharge and regroup.
Action Line: Make your own island. Whether you’re moving to a secluded place, or simply carving out some space for yourself on the quad, give yourself some room to breathe.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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