Fall Semester lessons learned for back to school in 2021
By Karyn Cook
Fall 2020 proved to be a semester like none other, with social distancing, maximum occupancy rules, mandatory classes held solely online, parties not being an option and homecomings and other fun activities cancelled. It is safe to say, it is quite an interesting time to be a college student. Trying to learn, have fun, and prepare for a future career can be tricky during a pandemic.
Some students never stepped foot on campus and spent an entire semester at home, saving thousands of dollars for room and board; others came to campus for a few weeks until they were ultimately sent home after those around them became infected. It can be agreed that Fall 2020 was full of lessons for all, from learning and instruction, to social activities, there was much to be learned.
It is very well known that college can be exhausting and stressful. Limited interaction and online classes can prove to be quite lonesome for some students, so taking care of yourself is important. Kailyn Hayes, senior studying communications with a minor in Journalism and Digital Media, puts an emphasis on the importance of self-care.
“I’ve learned that self-care is extremely important. Whether it is an hour of doing something or only 20 minutes, a little bit goes a long way”, said Hayes.
Putting work and effort into yourself can be just as beneficial as school or other work. Doing a facemask, watching your favorite show, even treating yourself to a nice dessert is beneficial during times like these.
Having a social life is important. With many not attending in-person classes or being able to come to campus to see friends or go to events, it can feel quite lonely or isolated. Game nights, speaker series and other events were ultimately moved online, resulting in learning different ways to be engaged and still enjoy yourself. In past years, guest speakers including The Exonerated Five, and actors Yvonne Orji and Jay Ellis of HBO’S Insecure, were seated in packed auditoriums at VCU, but this year Actress Keke Palmer was interviewed by VCU’s Activity Planning Board, with over 400 participants – all watching on zoom. A very fun and informative interview with a loved celebrity – all within the comfort of our homes and dorms.
Due to many classes required to be online, many had to adapt and learn new learning skills, which some enjoyed, and others did not. Some believed they did not get the full college experience being at home while others felt like they benefitted from saving money on dorms, dining plans, transportation for those who commuted and more. Online instruction is quite different than weekly classes, especially when attending at home with siblings or in dorms with 30 other kids on one hall. With only classes previously being just an option for some students, the change was not welcome to all.
“I decided to take an extra class so I could graduate early and dodge the spring semester” said William Cashimir. “I struggle to pay attention in virtual classes and I’m not going to risk putting my family in danger”.
While some are adjusting to the modified college experience, others are looking forward to change in 2021. 2020 proved to be a trying year; it can only get better from here.