The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Back to College, With Social Distancing

Ellen Levitt

Posted on August 25, 2020 22:54

1 user

My older daughter has returned to college, and my younger daughter will be starting her term soon. Their college terms will be vastly different than what I experienced.

I don't get overly nostalgic about my Barnard College undergraduate experience, although I enjoyed it very much. (I have more of a sentimental feel for my high school, which both my daughters also attended.) But I have many fond memories of my classes and clubs, aspects of dorm life and part-time jobs. 

I recall the measles fear that gripped schools in the mid-1980s. I was one of thousands of students who either had to get a booster vaccination or show proof of my earlier shots. The biggest health fears most of us students had were either contracting mononucleosis or getting sports-related injuries. 

Did any of us dream of the COVID-19 pandemic? Only if we were reading or writing sci-fi works. 

Fast forward to late summer 2020. College students are going back to universities, and their lives will be vastly different than those of many generations of scholars. Classes online, clubs redesigned, sports teams without fans and with very different training, and school libraries, gyms and cafeterias being used so differently.

When we brought Jessica back for her junior year at SUNY New Paltz, a mid-sized state school in the Hudson Valley, we saw all the students wearing masks. Only students were allowed to lug in luggage; no more helping our kids unpack in the rooms and suites. Jessica has most of her classes via computer screen, although two music courses will be in person, but with spacing between each musician.

She's been deeply involved in two school activities; a musical theater ensemble called the Miami Players, and the Jewish student group Chabad on Campus (this year Jess sits on the Student Board of her Chabad chapter). Both of these groups have been figuring out ways to conduct meaningful, enjoyable activities in different ways than in the past. It's a learning experience tempered with bittersweet decisions, but they are all innovating as best they can.

Mealtime is so different; no more lingering at the cafeteria tables, getting seconds. Now the kids order food in advance by app, and then pick up ("grab and go") their meals. 

Dorm life, casual socializing, labs and practices, study groups: all are being reconfigured. 

I hope they still have a good time, still learn a lot, still make friends and good connections with their professors. It won't be easy.

Meanwhile, Michelle's first frosh year term at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan is starting in late September and she will have NO classes in person. She is not dorming this semester, and likely won't next either. She is unhappy about having a seven-hour art studio course online, without the professor walking around and the students checking out each other's work. She is becoming resigned to this, reluctantly.

I know my daughters have had media-shaped lives so far: cell phones, emailing homework in high school, texting pals, and using Instagram, SnapChat and What's App and so on. But this is so different. And challenging. And strange.

Ellen Levitt

Posted on August 25, 2020 22:54

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

STOCKTON — Fall semester classes at San Joaquin Delta College will be mostly online in order to limit the spread of COVID-19,...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest