When The University of Alabama sent the email stating that the student body would not be returning to campus for face-to-face classes, I cried – a lot. Even though I knew the probability of us returning was extremely low, I had hope that I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of the semester in my hometown. Since being home, I’ve seen countless posts talking about how it’s not OK for students to be acting so selfishly about their classes getting canceled. But, students have every right to be upset. They left their hometowns and essentially lived a new life in their college towns, only for it to be ripped away from them.
They were all nervous their first day, especially as freshmen, whether they already knew people at the University or not. Maybe they were worried about not fitting in right away or that the distance would be too hard. By the end of the first month, however, everything was going better than expected, and as the semester continued on, life only got better.
The people who lived down the hall turned into best friends. Professors turned into acquaintances. Students were comfortable – happy, even. Something they were so scared to do and something they didn’t think they could do turned into their biggest accomplishment. But as the second semester continued on, the threat of not returning after spring break escalated and the jokes about class being canceled became reality. Students locked their dusty dorm rooms for the last time – the same room they complained about months ago but that they would now give anything to be back in. The friends who were just down the hall are now hundreds of miles away.
Many students didn’t realize how many lasts they would be experiencing before they went on break: the last time they would have to shower in a communal bathroom, the last time they would see their roommates, the last time they would see one of their professors. So many lasts without much warning. That’s what makes students so upset. With a snap of a finger, it was the last time they would be with people they spent months with.
Online classes are causing panic. They can cause a decline in the quality of education for some students and can make them lose motivation. Some students need face-to-face contact to succeed, thus making it even more difficult to adjust to college at home. Sending emails to professors who take two-plus days to respond is going to be a critical hit to grades and their understanding of topics. Students could easily fall behind.
All of the events for March and April are gone. There will be no more darties, no Honors Day tappings, no end-of-year banquets and no more sporting events. Students are cooped up inside instead and thrown into environments they haven’t seen in months. Their social and academic plans just got a giant wrench thrown in them for a period of time that no one knows. Graduations are being canceled; something people work tremendously hard for is thrown away.
College students are hurting after getting told they can’t come back to their second homes. Some of them are stranded due to the immediate move-outs and extended spring breaks. They aren’t able to see their friends or be in environments where they felt safe and comfortable.
If you know a college student, understand that this isn’t an extended vacation. This is a complete turnaround from what they’ve grown to know.