What does the “new normal” look like for students?
April 29, 2020
 

So, online school and quarantine is the “new normal?” Nothing about this situation is normal. My entire education lives inside of my laptop now. When I wake up to go to class, I have to go no further than the desk on the other side of my room. The connections and relationships I have with people have become strictly virtual. I can attend class, talk to a friend, and have office hours with a professor just by connecting through a link in Zoom. Modern technology can make this quarantine seem so simple. However, I think I speak on behalf of all college students when I say that it isn’t all that it seems.

Online school can seem glamorous. The self-paced lectures and not having to actually get out of bed to go to class seems great until you’re actually living it. Looking back, I regret complaining so much about having to go to class because now I wish that I could. When I knew I had a class to attend, I could use that as motivation to get myself out of bed. I don’t have that anymore. Now, I have the safety net of knowing the lecture in most of my classes will be there waiting for me whenever I decide to watch it, and that’s no way to get motivated about something. This makes me super grateful for the classes that do require Zoom meeting attendance because it gives me a reason to get out of bed and not waste the day away. To be honest, online school has taught me a lot about self-control, discipline, and organization. 

Not being in the college setting has made school much harder for me, which means I have to work that much harder to be successful at it. As great as online school sounds sometimes, it’s made me realize how much I did love going to class and being on campus.

I can say with confidence that, for most of us college students, our social life has also become non-existent. Snapchat, Zoom, and Facetime have become our best friends. Seeing the faces of those we care about through a screen is some of the closest interaction we have right now. It’s easy to start feeling a little stir-crazy when all we have to do is stay home and “go to school.” 

Even though I feel isolated in these times, I am an introvert and am completely fine just hanging out with my horse and avoiding people. Human interaction is healthy though, so it’s important to find ways to do so even amongst these circumstances. All of this free time on my hands has allowed me a lot of time to think outside of the box and find creative ways to stay in touch with friends and family, despite the shelter-in-place order. It’s so much more productive to beat the stereotype of a lazy college student and make the most of this drastic change in our lives. 

I realize that education and human interaction only amount to a small fraction of the parts of our lives that have been turned upside down. Many have lost on-campus jobs and a source of income, a graduation ceremony, various campus resources, structure, and more. There’s no doubt that the impact of this quarantine is everywhere we look. It’s easy to lose sight of things in the middle of a literal pandemic. However, I do my best to remember that although we may not be physically all in this together, we are all fighting the same fight right now. Choosing to come together and look after one another in these difficult times can help normalize our “new normal.”