College commitments during corona

College+commitments+during+corona

Graphic illustration by Medha Upadhyay

Medha Upadhyay

The Class of 2020 has lost our prom, our senior game, our graduation, our picnics, our ditch day. We’ve put on a brave face and let it go. As everything around the world has ground to a halt, we are trying to make the best of a bad time. I’ve learned to enjoy the winding down of senior year with ten weeks out of school, sleeping in and watching Netflix. On the other hand, it’s been a lot harder to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve committed to a college without ever stepping foot on its campus.

I’ve spent the last four years of my life working toward this, and I’ll spend the next four years of my life at the college I’ve chosen. Yet I have made this decision without getting to see the culture of the campus, the location, the people, the classrooms, the dorms, the city, or anything about the personality of the place. 

I’ve done my best to not complain; I know I’m lucky. My personal favorite positivity mantra has been, “You don’t have to stay home, you get to stay home.” I know that it’s true and I’m doing my very best to remind myself of every privilege I have. For almost every “complaint” I’ve had, I’ve practiced being grateful. Can’t hang out with friends? I’m thankful to have a loving family that is doing their best to keep me safe and happy. Missed out on my final year of swimming, my magnum opus before I sidelined it to a recreational hobby? I’m thankful that I’m not a 2020 Olympian that will have to add another year of training onto their four year plan. 

The class of 2020 has lost a lot. Most of these were milestones, celebrations of how far we’ve come. To me, these things were merely celebratory. They are big moments, events that many of us have been looking forward to for years. But as I remind myself over and over again, they are meant to be fun. Fun, and nothing else. Yes, I’m sad I missed out on these experiences, and I’m upset that they were snatched from me, but I know that they won’t affect my future. So I apply my gratefulness mantra: No Prom, no Grad? I’m thankful to have friends that still reach out to me and glad that we’ll see each other again.

College, on the other hand, is important to me. It’s not for fun. It is a long lasting decision with big consequences, both personal and financial. I know that my shallowness surrounding college decisions exposes my first world problems, but I can’t let it go. It’s my breaking point, so to say. I’ve worked far too hard for this to let it go now. College is a big deal. If not for the rest of my life, then at least for the next four years. This should have been the time for me to reap my rewards. I should have been jetting around, going to admitted student tours, fully soaking in the joy of getting in, of having options to choose from. 

I’ve worked so hard for this, and now I can’t even take the last step with certainty. I had a lot of trouble making such a big decision with such little information. It would be unbelievably tragic to work four years in order to earn a spot at the perfect college only to make the wrong decision at the last minute. It’s not like I’m flying blind, but the information I do have is not helping me. I’ve been bombarded by invitations to online tours and virtual Q and As, but it’s only complicating my decisions. Of course every school looks great in an interactive panoramic video. Of course every admissions counsellor will gush about their school. I can’t pick out what the pitfalls of each school are because the colleges are experts at hiding them. I know each school wants to put its best foot forward to reel in as many new students as possible, but that might not be in my best interest.

I toured two colleges last summer, and that’s it. One of them felt like it would be a good fit for me, and the other definitely didn’t. It made a difference. Was it a defining factor? No. But I wish I had the chance to go on admitted student tours, to see the campuses, the dorms, and the city around the school. By not being able to visit the campus in person, I’ve missed out on experiencing the college’s atmosphere. It isn’t the biggest thing for me to take into account. It isn’t even close to the biggest thing, if I’m being honest. The strength of the program, the class sizes, the cost of the school, and the distance from home are all more important factors that I, and every senior, had to weigh. Still, I wish I could have driven down to these schools, just to be absolutely sure that I wasn’t making some irreparable mistake. 

At the end of the day, I committed to a school that I have never seen. It’s a school that isn’t too far from home, isn’t too expensive, and has a stellar program for my major. I know that I’m lucky to have found such a perfect place to continue my education. It is what it is. We’re all doing the best we can. For me, that means extra sleepless nights and an ongoing sliver of doubt that I will hate the campus when I finally land there. Now, however, I’ve got another problem to deal with: whether or not colleges will even have in-person classes in the fall. Cheers to the class of 2020!